Real heroes in our community

The American Red Cross honored a very special group of people Thursday morning — heroes who work and live in Kitsap County.

Real stories of courage and bravery filled the room at the ninth annual Real Heroes Breakfast at the Kitsap Conference Center at Bremerton Harborside. There was a common theme among the 13 individuals honored: They didn’t think of themselves as heroes, rather they were helping someone in need.

“Am I hero? No. In 17 total years I have had a lot of opportunities to intervene in crisis and some of it has been a lifesaver,” said Kitsap County Sheriff’s Deputy Ron Zude, one of the 13 honorees. “We look at it more as our job and our responsibility.”

He and Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Grant worked quickly to save a distraught woman who had locked herself in her garage as carbon monoxide from her car’s tailpipe filled the air. Despite the dangerous gas burning their eyes and throats, the two deputies didn’t give up and saved the woman’s life.

Had it not been for the proper training, Pam Nelson-Kimball, a registered nurse with Group Health, and Dr. Mark Swaney, a Bainbridge Island veterinarian, may have not saved the life of a school bus driver who had a heart attack behind the wheel.

They were the only two people in the whole crowd on the side of the road who knew CPR and because of their training, they saved a life.

“The best preparation is to take first aid and CPR training,” Nelson-Kimball said.

Another honoree, whose preparedness was key in a critical time of need, is former Red Cross board member William Benson. An avid motorcyclist, he was with 14 other riders who were exploring Northern California when one of the bikers suddenly lost control and crashed into a large rock, throwing him off his motorcycle. Benson was quick to react and used his first aid kit to tend to his badly injured friend. Benson was the only rider who had a first aid kit.

“I don’t think I’m a hero, I think I helped a friend,” Benson said.

Benson and his fellow honorees were quick-thinking, courageous and put others before them. Their selfless acts earned them the distinct honor as Real Heroes of Kitsap County.

Everyone has the potential to be a hero. It’s only one day out of your life to learn CPR skills and you never know when someone will truly need you when their life depends on it.

The American Red Cross offers a number of classes on adult CPR, first aid basics, infant and child CPR and more.

Standard First Aid classes (first aid and CPR) feature techniques for controlling bleeding, splinting injuries, treating burns, poisonings and sudden illness, an obstructed airway, rescue breathing and CPR for adults. Classes will be offered on the following dates at the West Sound Service Center at 811 Pacific Avenue in Bremerton for $55, call (360) 377-3761 for more information.

• March 19, 1-8 p.m.

• April 2, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

• April 16, 1-8 p.m.

• May 7, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

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