Red Cross recognizes its local heroes

They pulled a man from a burning truck, plucked a woman from frigid water, extinguished fires, gave First Aid, traversed mountain trails, performed the Heimlich maneuver, resuscitated pets, kept calm and relied on their training.

They saved lives.

Fifteen “ordinary people doing the extraordinary” were honored at the 5th annual Red Cross Heroes Breakfast held Thursday at the the Kitsap Golf & Country Club in Chico.

“Your efforts to help someone, no matter how small or how great, will echo in the lives of those you’ve touched,” said Phillip Jorgensen, an emergency medical technician who received a Heroes Award last year.

He, like many honored this year don’t describe themselves as heroes no matter how courageous or quick thinking their actions were.

David Stewart posed for pictures with family following the ceremony. He, his two sons and Michael Living are credited for saving homes in the Sun Fjord Apartments from fire. Stewart and Living who were neighbors, evacuated their families, and then repeatedly went into the burning apartment to extinguish the flames. Central Kitsap Junior High students Brandon and Nicholas Stewart, both 13 searched for extinguishers and pulled fire alarms.

Stewart and Living relied on the training they received in the military.

“It’s just natural,” Stewart said of his actions.

The audience got a glimpse of the nerve rattling and life threatening situations through the heroes own words.

“They looked like pretzels on the ground. They were bad,” said Kenneth Martin describing two co-workers who fell 40 feet after their scaffolding collapsed.

He was working on a basement staircase, while a father and son painted outside. The fall rendered one man unconscious, bleeding heavily from leg injuries.

Martin took off his shirt and applied it as a tourniquet and found a cell phone in the victim’s pocket to call 911. Because the construction site had no address, he could only give directions to the location. When he heard sirens, he ran about a quarter mile down the road to direct the rescue crews to the house.

“I’m just glad I had the proper training from high school,” Martin said.

When a dispute Feb. 4, 2003 in a Safeway parking lot ended in gunfire, Janet Anderson relied on her experience as an emergency room nurse at Naval Hospital Bremerton. The man had been shot at point-blank range and was going into shock. She checked his vital signs, then treated him, raising his feet. She told bystanders to put their coats on the man so he would stay warm.

“It’s comforting to know there’s people like that in the community,” said Craig Loidhamer, manager for United Moving & Storage as he presented Anderson’s award.

In the past year the American Red Cross West Sound Service Center assisted 126 people, provided 1,100 meals and taught 9,000 youth life saving skills.

Two days after Calie McDonald, a junior at Olympic High School, completed a CPR/First Aid class she had to use what she learned when she saw a man lying in the middle of the road. McDonald stopped her truck, leaving it in the lane so no other vehicle would hit her or the victim.

The man was conscious but unresponsive and bleeding from the mouth. She got help from other drivers who stopped. She told someone to call 911 and another person to direct traffic. She then focused on the victim, checked his vital signs, treated him for shock and provided first aid until Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue paramedics arrived.

Hal Angel, Jr. and Washington State Ferries employee Joe Malono came to the rescue when a truck crashed and burst into flames near the Southworth Ferry Terminal. The driver had suffered a seizure and was unconscious and trapped inside.

Angel and Malono ran over to the truck and Angel broke the passenger side window with his elbow, unlocked the door and then opened it. He tried to pull Patrick Queri out, but he was stuck. The men managed to pull him out. Seconds later the truck was engulfed in flames.

Getting help to those who need it is an everyday occurrence as a 911 dispatcher, but one call in particular earned Monnet Engelke recognition.

“My whole world at that time is what’s going on at the other end of the line,” Engelke recalled. The call came in August 2003 from a woman who reported “possibly the death of my son.”

The 26-year-old son had collapsed and was unconscious and not breathing. Engelke guided the untrained, distraught parents in giving CPR to their son. It succeeded long enough for paramedics to arrive and get the man to the hospital.

“To get someone back from the dead, the edge of death — it’s an amazing thing,” she said.

Bethany J. MacLay knows that feeling as well. She was babysitting 18-month-old Molly Brisling and a 3-year-old neighbor boy. As Molly was eating pretzels, Bethany suddenly noticed she wasn’t saying anything. The toddler, whose face turned red, grabbed her throat and lost consciousness.

MacLay recognized the signs of choking and applied infant abdominal thrusts. The pretzel final came out. Molly started crying, as did a relieved MacLay.

Thursday’s heroes breakfast also brought together the rescued with the rescuers.

Bill Hoke presented his rescuers Jesse and James Tinker with an award. Hoke and friend Terry MacDonald, were traversing Bailey Ridge in the Olympic Mountains when MacDonald’s retina detached. Hoke injured his shoulder while trying to establish a camp in the dark.

Hoke and MacDonald waited three days before deciding to continue on to seek help. They met up with James Duncan Tinker and Jesse Townsend Tinker of Bremerton. The young men built a camp and planned for all of them to hike out together. The men’s injuries were too severe. James and Jesse made a cross-country sprint of more then 17 miles in nine hours and got help.

“A hero is someone who takes your life into their hands,” Hoke said, adding Jesse and James did so with a “quiet grace.”

One of the reasons Kitsap Sheriff’s Deputy Heather Wright went into law enforcement was to “leave this world a little better than how it was when you came into it.”

Wright responded to reports of an intoxicated woman yelling obscenities at the Kingston Marina. When she arrived, she found that Washington State Patrol Trooper Joseph Pudlo was there. The two saw a partially clothed, wet and apparently intoxicated woman at the end of a dock. The woman attempted to jump up onto her boat, slipped and fell backwards, hitting her head on the dock. She disappeared into the water between the boat and the dock.

“I’d love to say we were calm and cool, but we weren’t,” Wright said.

Wright and Pudlo jumped to the edge of the dock, got on their stomachs searched under the water. They locked arms and Pudlo eventually grabbed the woman’s arm. Together, he and Wright pulled her onto the dock, unconscious, but still breathing.

They provided care until aid units arrived and the woman was transported to the hospital.

Lt. Rick Christensen and Firefighter Mick Lewis of Fire District No. 7 found what they described as “a pile of laundry” during a house fire Oct. 15, 2003. It was two dogs that needed help.

“Buddy” and “Levi” have recovered fully, but needed first aid after being overcome by smoke. They both looked to be near death,but gasped for air. The men administered oxygen and rubbed the dogs’ chests to revive them. They also commandeered one of the department vehicles and transported the dogs to an emergency animal hospital. Both dogs are doing well, said owners Dale and Sara Webb. Ironically, fire investigators believe the dogs started the fire by bumping a knob on the stove.

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