Hawaii Heroes

  • Hawaii Heroes of the Year
The American Red Cross of Hawaii will be honoring their Heroes of the Year during the Red Cross Heroes Breakfast on October 13, 2012, at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. The kind, courageous, and selfless deeds of these heroes are directly linked to the Red Cross mission of preventing and alleviating human suffering. These inspiring individuals demonstrate that inside each human being is a hero, ready to step up to the plate and assist those in need.

Community Hero Lifesaver Heroes – Shannon Yonamine and Billy Newell

Shannon Yonamine became a lifesaver on May 4, 2012. Iolani School teacher Peter Greenhill was playing basketball during a lunchtime student-faculty game, when he suddenly felt light-headed and ill. Peter immediately headed to the infirmary and as he reached the doorway, he collapsed. Iolani Nurse and Director of Health Services Shannan Yonamine observed that Peter was sweaty, grey in color and gasping for breath. She immediately checked for responsiveness, called 911, and started CPR. Shortly after, another parent took over the CPR while Shannan retrieved the AED outside of her office. Shannan prepared the AED and allowed it to assess and administer the shocks to Peter as needed. Shannan continued to administer CPR and monitor the AED until paramedics arrived. EMS reported that Peter started to respond while in the ambulance. Thanks to Shannan’s calm and quick action, Peter’s life was saved.

Billy Newell, a security guard and Navy base police officer, was dining at Kauai’s Pacific Missile Range Facility when he noticed a military officer gesturing for help. A woman was choking on a piece of steak. Billy quickly went to her aid and took charge of the situation. He instructed bystanders to call 911 and started to deliver abdominal thrusts, chest thrusts and back blows to clear the obstruction, but was unsuccessful. Billy advised bystanders to clear the area as he knew the woman would lose consciousness, and he would need an area to lay her down. Upon losing consciousness, Billy looked for the obstruction and provided rescue breaths to no avail. The woman started turning purple, so Billy began CPR. After the fourth set of CPR, Billy again attempted abdominal thrusts and was able to clear the obstruction. The victim regained consciousness and was placed in the recovery position until the Kauai Fire Department and EMS arrived to assist. Billy’s efforts saved her life.

Community Hero: Military Hero – Shaun Toy

As a Colonel in the Army, Shaun’s father often shared stories of injured soldiers and his experiences in Afghanistan. These stories inspired Shaun to do something to give back to the courageous men and women that serve our Country. At the age of 16, Shaun created his own non-profit organization called Air Soft Warriors of Hawaii which holds quarterly air soft tournaments with proceeds donated to the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). Since 2010, Air Soft Warriors of Hawaii has raised close to $40,000 for the WWP. Tournament participants include air soft enthusiasts, veterans preparing for deployment, and individuals wanting to support this worthy cause. Shaun has amazingly juggled this, while excelling at school, sports and Boy Scouts. He aspires to join the Army, hopefully one day as an officer and fourth-generation soldier, with dreams of attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. A role model to classmates, scouts, team members and our Country, Shaun truly exemplifies the spirit of humanitarianism.

Community Heroes: In the Line of Duty Heroes – Officer Marc Cobb-Adams and Officer Christian Sahlen

During a routine call on September 11, 2011, police officers Cobb-Adams and Sahlen observed black smoke billowing from a high rise building on Ala Wai Boulevard. They immediately raced to the building, notified security of their observation, and activated the building’s fire alarm system to evacuate residents. Officer Cobb-Adams located the fire on the 7th floor and made a forced entry into the apartment where he found a distressed man with sustained burns on his body. Officer Cobb-Adams rescued the victim and took him to a safe area. Officer Sahlen arrived shortly after with a fire hose in hand, and both of the officers battled the blaze until the Honolulu Fire Department arrived. Both men are honored for saving the apartment residents from the fire and for their bravery in the face of danger.

Community Hero: Youth Hero – Riggs Silva

Seventeen-year-old peer mentor and Junior lifeguard, Riggs Silva, was assisting in a junior guard program outside of Magic Island when he heard a cry for help and saw a child in distress in the ocean. Without hesitation, Riggs used a rescue board to paddle to the child. Riggs instructed the child to stay calm and he helped him onto the board. Riggs navigated the board through the surf and shallow reef and got the child back to shore safely, exhibiting an enormous amount of control and calm. Once on shore, Riggs provided the child with first aid for minor injuries from the reef. After several years of training in the City & County Ocean Safety Junior lifeguard program, Riggs was certified as one of six Junior Leaders. Riggs has shown that years of training and volunteering paid off and has given him the skills to save a life. Riggs’ leadership, courage and commitment make him a true Hero!

Community Hero: Animal Hero – Indy Otsuka

In August 2008, Indy, a retired show dog, was flown from Makawao to his new owner, Liane Otsuka. Liane recognized Indy’s compassion for people and after numerous hours of training, Indy passed the American Kennel Club Good Citizen test and Tripler Medical and Temperament Training to become a certified therapy dog. Indy began as a Red Cross Human Animal Bond program volunteer in September, 2008. Indy regularly visits patients, families and hospital staff, and even participated in traumatic brain injury group therapy sessions at Tripler Army Medical Center. Indy also volunteers at the annual Red Cross Hats Off fundraiser, encouraging the public to make donations, and has provided comfort as a member of the Red Cross First Aid Station Team at various community events. Indy spends well over 400 volunteer hours on Red Cross activities as well as other public service activities. Indy deserves recognition as the Animal Hero for bringing so much joy to those in need of healing, and for supporting the mission of the American Red Cross.

Volunteer of the Year Hero: Oahu – Robert Via

A Korean War hero, Robert “Uncle Bob” Via began volunteering with the Red Cross in 1951. While stationed in the Army in Japan, he realized that he didn’t really know how to breathe in the water or stroke properly, although he had surfed and swam “Hawaiian style” for years. After mastering aquatic skills in the Army, Via became the water safety director for various military branches, U.N. and Red Cross. Upon retiring from the military, he became the Kaneohe District Park Pool Manager and taught hundreds of children to swim, and lifesaving techniques to Water Safety Instructors and lifeguards. Uncle Bob has logged in over 13,000 volunteer hours teaching Red Cross aquatic lifesaving skills. At 85 years of age, he continues to teach Red Cross swim classes and schedules quarterly lifeguard and instructor trainings. Bob says, “The first thing I try to teach kids is to not be afraid of the water, the rest will come.” Having trained over 20,000 people how to swim and still continuing to do so is a credit to the passion he has in saving lives.

Volunteer of the Year Hero: East Hawaii – Laurine Carvalho

Laurine has been an active American Red Cross Volunteer since 2003 and volunteers in both Disaster Services and Health and Safety Services. As a Disaster Services volunteer, she coordinates, prepares and implements the Red Cross response plan to all pending or occurring threats and assists in training and responding to disasters in Hawaii County and on Kauai. Laurine is also a Disaster Action Team leader in East Hawaii. Laurine has been deployed to help with national disaster relief efforts in Texas, Tennessee, Georgia and American Samoa. As a Health and Safety volunteer, Laurine serves as an instructor for the many classes offered by the Red Cross---Lifeguarding, First Aid/CPR, and Pet First Aid, to name a few, and also trains instructors to teach classes. Laurine holds a full-time job, is a wife and a mother and still finds the time to give of herself to the Red Cross.

Volunteer of the Year Hero: West Hawaii – Tom Kaneo

As a small business owner, Tom does what it takes to get a job done and maintains this attitude as a Red Cross volunteer. A disaster volunteer since 2001, he is now the Disaster Action Team captain for Kona. In this role, Tom is on-call 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, and is the first to respond to a disaster. After making an assessment, he works with a team to coordinate the needs of those affected. Tom also opens and coordinates logistics for shelters, maintains two emergency supply storage areas, services the Red Cross generators and teaches Red Cross disaster courses. He is a licensed HAM radio operator, which allows him quicker access to communication between the fire and police departments and is on the Community Emergency Response Team and often recruits members to support the Red Cross. His efforts help ensure the Red Cross is there for communities in West Hawaii.

Volunteer of the Year Hero: Maui – Shannan Pyland

Shannan has been a dedicated Red Cross volunteer since 2009, holding several key positions on Lanai and Maui. On Lanai, Shannan served as the Disaster Action Team Captain, recruiting and setting up trainings for residents, working to identify potential shelter locations and food resources, and connecting with local vendors to improve the sheltering and feeding capabilities during times of disasters. Her experience in opening Red Cross shelters was put to the test during Hurricane Felicia, Honoapiilani Highway road closure, Kihei flooding, and a Maui police standoff. Shannan currently serves as a volunteer Red Cross Hotline Operator who receives calls from first responders and deploys disaster volunteers to the scene. She is also a Disaster Services instructor and Sheltering Lead volunteer for the County of Maui. Shannan’s enthusiasm, coupled with her strong leadership ability during disaster responses, has helped the volunteer team in Maui County reach new levels of success.