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American Red Cross honors local heroes

From KITSAP NEWS Reports

The American Red Cross Serving King and Kitsap Counties recently announced those who will be honored on March 6 for their heroic acts in the past year. Ten award categories will be represented by 13 individuals at the ninth annual American Red Cross Real Heroes Breakfast.

The 2008 Real Heroes Breakfast will be from 7 to 9 a.m. Thursday, March 6, at the Kitsap Conference Center at Bremerton Harborside. Reservations are required and available by calling (360)-377-3761 ext. 10203; a $100 donation is suggested. All proceeds will support Red Cross services in Kitsap and North Mason counties.

Law Enforcement Heroes

A distraught woman called her daughter and said she didn’t want to live anymore and was about to take her own life. The daughter lived miles away and quickly called 911 which dispatched Sheriff’s Deputies Michael Grant and Ron Zude to the mother’s home to check on her.

Based on the 911 call, they knew the woman was threatening to take a large dosage of pills, start her automobile and lock herself in the garage, succumbing to the carbon monoxide gases.

Standing at the front door of the home, Deputy Grant immediately noted the sound of a car motor running inside the garage. The home was locked. Without hesitation, Deputy Grant kicked in the front door. Together, Grant and Zude rushed to open the garage and found the victim slumped over the driver’s seat of the vehicle. They turned off the car’s ignition and searched for the victim’s vital signs. They removed the victim from the vehicle and carried her out of the gas-filled garage to the driveway, administered first aid and monitored her vital signs until emergency medical services (EMS) personnel arrived.

Responders estimate that the woman was exposed to more than 10 minutes of highly concentrated carbon monoxide gas.

Medical Hero

Ofelia Kim, a Licensed Practical Nurse in the Cardiac Care Unit of Harrison Medical Cen-ter, has an interesting hobby. On weekends, Kim and her husband, a ballroom dance instructor, like to don their finest dance attire and join a group of dance enthusiasts at a local lodge to “cut a rug” long into the night.

One such night, as they danced around the room Kim noticed a fellow dancer had fallen from a chair and collapsed to the floor. A group of people circled around him. Kim went into action; she approached the victim, identified herself to the growing crowd as a nurse and knelt beside the body on the floor. She searched for vital signs. The victim wasn’t breathing. He had a heart attack.

Kim ripped open his shirt and started chest compressions as another bystander started giving the victim rescue breaths and a third ran for an automatic electronic defibrillator (AED). Kim kept the compressions going while an AED was readied and pads affixed to the body. “All clear!” rang out and a shock was administered. Still, no signs of life. “All clear!” a second shock was applied. This time, the defibrillator helped the heart regain its rhythm.

Soon the medics arrived. The patient was stabilized and transported to Harrison Medical Center.

A few days later the heart attack victim improved and was transferred to the cardiac care unit where Kim is assigned. She was happy to see him. He didn’t remember a lot about that night, but was pleased to meet the person who knew how important it was to do chest compressions to keep the blood pumping through his vital organs while others prepared a defibrillator to help his heart regain its rhythm.

Military Hero

For admissions corpsmen at Naval Hospital Bremerton, when 1:45 a.m. rolls around, things are usually pretty quiet. One Friday morning this past year it was so quiet Hospital Corpsman Marshall Smith could hear a pin drop. Smith had just finished updating Naval Hospital Bremerton’s admissions log, when the silence was broken by a loud scream — then another. It was coming from the hallway right outside the Red Cross branch office at the hospital.

The source of the screaming was Army Sgt. Ysabel Meek who had gone on a short walk away from the labor and delivery ward, in hopes of speeding up her labor.

The walk did the trick.

Meek said her contractions were about three minutes apart. Smith, a new father who had just been through labor and delivery of his own child, was sure that help would arrive in plenty of time.

Meek’s baby had a schedule of its own. No sooner had Smith lowered Meek to a safe position on the floor and the baby’s head appeared. Then, just as rapidly, a shoulder came out. Smith had just delivered his first baby as a hospital corpsman. He cradled the baby safely and remained on the scene comforting the mom as the staff from Northwest Beginnings, the labor and delivery ward, arrived and cared for the healthy baby and new mom.

Preparedness Hero

If you are a motorcycle enthusiast, nothing beats a long summer ride through winding mountain terrain with 14 fellow bikers. That is exactly what Bill Benson, a former Red Cross board member who received first aid and CPR training while serving on the board, was doing with 14 other Harley owners as they explored Lassen National Forrest in Northern California last summer. A few days into the trip, the weather was hot, the sky was clear and all was well as the group rounded a downward curve. One of the bikers suddenly lost control of his motorcycle, missed the curve and hit a huge rock sending the rider flying 10 feet into the air.

The trip came to an abrupt stop. 

Benson took control of the situation. Cell phones were of no use in the mountainous terrain, so one biker headed back to the nearest town for help. Benson and others cautiously moved the accident victim out of the roadway and onto the shoulder of the road taking care with his neck, back and legs. Benson grabbed the first aid kit he always carried in his motorcycle side bag. Then using the items from the first aid kit, Benson placed a compression bandage on the victim’s badly bleeding head and sent another biker down to a nearby stream for water to keep the victim cooled down in the 100-degree temperature and to wet rags to control swelling in his badly injured ankle and ribs. Benson kept talking to him, checking vital signs and watching for signs of shock until emergency responders arrived about 45 minutes later. The victim was taken to the ranger station, and then airlifted to a local hospital. After a few months he is doing well and looking forward to the next long distance ride. 

Benson has already invested in another Red Cross first aid kit and is glad to have had emergency first aid training before the accident.

“You’d better believe all 15 of us will have first aid kits on our next trip,” Benson said.

Animal Rescue Hero

As Patrick Haley, a tree removal specialist with Darrel Emel’s Tree Service, left Bainbridge Island one afternoon in early August, he received an interesting phone call from his dispatcher. A family visiting the Illahee area noticed an eagle tangled in rope and hanging upside down from a branch of a tree more than 100 feet from the ground.

As required by regulations when dealing with an eagle rescue, Haley met two wildlife rescue professionals at the site. As they drew near they saw a young bald eagle with twine wrapped around its leg tangling it in the tree branches. The bird had been hanging in the branches for a long time and its strength was waning. Knowing time was of the essence, Haley used a large slingshot to shoot a weight line over a branch above the eagle. Down below, a crew got a rope up and over the branch, then secured a line to a tree trunk. Using ascenders that fit around his feet like stirrups, Haley kicked his way carefully up the tree, fighting off branches and leaves as he slowly scaled his way upward.

The eagle came to life as Haley came closer, beating its wings frantically to keep him away. He talked to the bird, trying to soothe it. When he was close enough, Haley used a blanket to carefully cover the eagle’s wings then cut away the twine that had bound him to the tree. Once freed from the strings and wrapped securely, the eagle was placed in a bag for the quick trip down to the ground. The eagle was examined by an animal rehabilitator and taken to the West Sound Wildlife Shelter in Bainbridge Island for further care.

Call to Action

On Sept. 5 as Pam Nelson-Kimball was driving to her job as a Registered Nurse with Group Health Cooperative she noticed her first school bus of the season, only something was very wrong. The school bus was off the side of the road. It appeared to have smashed into one or two cars and crossed a sidewalk before coming to a stop against a power pole. Nelson-Kimball pulled her car over and stopped. Students suddenly started flowing out the back of the bus. Two bystanders were helping them to safety.

She saw the bus driver slumped over the wheel. No one else was focused on the driver. She reached in the window to feel for a pulse. There was none. Then Nelson-Kimball entered the bus and immediately started checking the surroundings, checking the victim, looking for signs of respiration or a heartbeat. She quickly gave two rescue breaths, and then called for help to get the man out of the seat so that CPR could be started.

At that same time Dr. Mark Swaney, on his way to his Bainbridge Island veterinary clinic, was waiting at an intersection when his car was struck from behind in a chain reaction crash started by the school bus. He, too, pulled over and approached the bus, offering assistance. He answered the call for help. With assistance from two bystanders, the driver was lifted out of his seat and down the bus steps to the ground. Pam immediately started rescue breathing and Mark began chest compressions. They kept the series of breaths and compressions going between them. After five cycles of CPR they heard a siren. Medics were approaching. They arrived and quickly applied a defibrillator (AED) to help the victim’s heart regain rhythm.

Fire Rescue

May 4 was a special day for Paul and Becky Wright. They were busy moving into their new apartment at The Firs senior housing unit located in the Westpark community of Bremerton, where Becky had become the resident manager.

As they unpacked their belongings the sound of a fire alarm abruptly filled the air. Instinctively, Paul Wright headed out the door. Gazing at the exterior of the building he saw dark smoke coming from one of the third floor units. He rushed back inside, grabbed a fire extinguisher and headed up the stairs. Once on the third floor he encountered smoke and dropped to the floor. He pounded on doors, making sure everyone was exiting the building. Then, he reached apartment 310. He beat on the door and heard moaning from inside. Running out of air, Wright made his way to the end of the hallway to fill his lungs with fresh air, then headed back to 310. As he opened the door the black smoke began pouring out. Ducking down even lower, Wright saw a body lying on the floor. Thinking quickly, he stayed low, grabbed the unconscious man by his feet and with all his might dragged him out the door into the hallway away from the fire. Wright closed the door to 310, knowing this would offer some protection to the hallway and to other units and give firefighters time to put out the fire. The man was too heavy for Wright to carry downstairs. He turned him over so that his face was to the floor at the level where good air was still available and then he opened a window to help clear the smoke.

According to Bremerton Assistant Fire Chief Mick McKinley, Wright saved more than one individual life that day. By closing that door he saved property and lives.

“It kept this incident from escalating into another community catastrophe like the Kona Village fire of 1997,” McKinley said.

The elderly resident sustained burns over 30 percent of his body, but is making what doctors call a miraculous recovery.

Good Neighbor Award

“One minute I was talking on the phone and the next minute, my wife was saying, ‘the neighbor’s dog has the neighbor lady down on the ground!’” Instantly, Jerry Sage stopped talking on the phone, grabbed the first thing resembling a weapon he could puts his hands on, a small fireplace shovel and hurried out the door to help his neighbor. At first he didn’t see anything, but heard the dog growling. As he left his yard moving toward his neighbor’s, he saw a boot and heard small whimpering cries, then saw a body near the sidewalk.

There was the dog, a pit bull, viciously attacking his neighbor. It had dragged her inside its fenced yard. As Sage approached he raised his tiny shovel and in his best “retired teacher classroom voice” said sternly, “You back up!” The dog looked at him, then, backed up a couple of feet. Sage could see his wonderful neighbor, Coleen Smith was badly injured. Her foot was torn up and she had dog bites on her arms and hands. Sage was concerned about the amount of blood she was losing. He started to pull her from the yard. Suddenly, the dog lunged toward them. Jerry shook his shovel and picked up his neighbor by one arm, moving her quickly to the other side of the fence and to safety. Once outside the fence, Jerry took off his shirt and placed it on Smith’s wounded foot, applying pressure to stop the bleeding. Soon the medics arrived and she was transported to Harrison Medical Center. Smith has had a long recovery and is now up and about.

Adult Good Samaritan

Norm Johnson was busy one icy morning taking his 11-year old son, Jameson, to school in Central Kit-sap. As he approached a curve, a school bus and other vehicles in front of him slowed unexpectedly then continued toward the entrance to the school. Johnson’s eyes darted to the ditch on his right. He and Jameson saw a car that had spun out and was sitting on its roof in a ditch full of water.

He pulled to the side of the road and walked up to see if they could help. Two women beside the car were screaming and pointing toward the back window. There, Johnson saw a woman trapped in the car. She had climbed out of her safety belt and crawled to the back of the car to get away from rising water in the front. She couldn’t escape and was screaming for help.

Johnson, a former professional football kicker, made one kick at the rear window and realized that it wasn’t going to break that way. He looked for an object to break out the window. His son brought him a posthole digger from their car, a tool of Johnson’s real estate trade. Someone else tried to hand him a big rock. He opted for the rock. After two hits with the rock, he smashed the window and the terrified victim crawled out to safety.

Water Rescue

“If you don’t use these skills, you will lose these skills,” were the instructor’s final words to a swift water rescue training class attended by Todd Robbins and Trevor Severance. Two days later, those skills were called into action along the swollen Union River in Mason County as Robbins and Severance struggled to save a motorist and his dog trapped in flood waters.

The driver of a truck was headed into town. Water covered the road’s surface, but the driver, an elderly man, didn’t think it was very deep. He forged on. As the water got deeper, he switched into four-wheel drive. He only made it about 15 feet before the engine died. Water rushed under the truck sending it sideways and filling the cab with water. The driver grabbed his dog and climbed onto the roof of the truck.

Onlookers called 911 and a team of rescue divers was dispatched. When the divers arrived on the scene they anchored ropes to trees, power poles and trucks on shore, then Robbins and Severance swam out in the raging water to the truck. Robbins gave the driver a life jacket then carefully aided him to shore pulling their way along the ropes. The driver was wet, cold and couldn’t walk. Medics were waiting for him on shore. Next, using the ropes to guide him, Severance grabbed Tina, the driver’s dog, in his arms and swam to shore.

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