Monday, January 3, 2011
A Hero is....
“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”
. . . . Christopher Reeve
Recently, I attended a most extraordinary event: the 2010 Real Heroes Breakfast, sponsored by the American Red Cross, Snohomish County Chapter, WA. This is an annual event, popular at venues around the country. This year about 1,000 people attended the breakfast in Marysville, WA. Because of their huge capacity conference rooms, the Tulalip Resort Casino hosted the event. The facility, recently built and equipped with all the amenities for handling large crowds, was perfect for the occasion. Rather than straining to see the podium, guests watched the program on one of many video screens mounted throughout the room.
The Real Heroes Breakfast grew out of a desire to develop an event that is closely related to the American Red Cross mission of responding in times of emergency. The event honors the longstanding tradition of heroism by recognizing local citizens who have made a difference through individual acts of courage.
Seated at 8-person tables, we were served a delightful breakfast. Just as we were finishing our meal, the emcee, Pat Cashman, a humorous, inspirational speaker, began an introduction and, as he launched into the actual reason for the gathering, I could see why this program has been so popular around the country.
Several Northwest people were nominated for the special Real Heroes award. Stories of those chosen were presented to us on pre-screened videos. Following are brief stories of those honored:
Real Heroes happened to be...
...on a mountain: Dr. Rick Thurmer, while descending from the summit of Mount Everest, with diminishing oxygen, severe fatigue, and facing inclement weather, risked his own life to save a fellow climber.
...on a ferry: Kingston D Watch, Washington State Ferries, while on a routine crossing, rescued two distressed divers, administering CPR on a “blue” and unresponsive woman, saving her life.
...at a store: Fred Meyer employees, Raquel Geisler, Chuck Kern and Brandi Scott, administered first aid to a woman suffering anaphylactic shock. Brandi Scott sprinted across the store to her purse which contained an epinephrine pen. The injection was administered just as the victim had stopped breathing, saving her life.
...at a golf course: William Byerley, Cabe Benedetto, Erik McCaughan and Tyler Mayerchak just happened to come together at the right time and stepped up to save a woman whose car drove into a golf-course pond.
...at an athletic club: Greg Boland, Eric Brunson, Kevin Kleya, Marc Lainhart and Dr. Duncan Riddell, employees and clients at the Harbor Square Athletic Club in Edmonds, WA, worked together to save the life of a man suffering from sudden cardiac arrest.
...at sea: Fishermen Glen Gobin, Tony Gobin and Steven Gobin came to the rescue of two other fishermen as they clung to an ice cooler and their lives when their boat took on water and sank in the frigid waters of Puget Sound.
...at school: Scott Justesen, Eric Lemus and EllRoy Oster, jumped into action when one of their fellow school district maintenance workers had a heart attack. They performed CPR to keep blood pumping to vital organs and oxygen to his brain until help arrived.
...on a country road: Priscilla Trivisonno and four other teens were trapped in a car that rolled over and subsequently caught on fire. All were injured, but managed to escape, except for the driver who remained trapped inside. Working alone, Priscilla, finding the driver’s door stuck closed, went to the passenger side and pulled the male driver, much larger than herself, a safe distance away. Although the driver suffered burns and massive injuries, Priscilla kept him calm until aid arrived.
...at a company party: Linda Coan, at a holiday function with fellow employees, noticed a manager coughing and bending over her plate. Linda asked the manager if she was having trouble breathing. The choking woman nodded “yes.” Linda performed the Heimlich maneuver, giving two quick upward thrusts, releasing the obstacle.
Also honored were Chris Isenberg, Josh Estes and David Herrera, employees at the Kimberly-Clark Everett Mill, who made a commitment and implemented a plan for safety and personal accountability. The Everett Mill reached the milestone of “one million hours safe,” a tribute to those who designed the plan that made a significant difference in personal safety.
We applaud these ordinary people who effectively responded to extraordinary emergency situations. More often than not, that’s the true definition of “hero.”