Mark Adams and Linda Backus, staff members at CHAMP Homes Hyannis, and Austin Davis, a resident, had just completed their CPR certification. They did not expect to be called upon to use it so soon. George Dakin, a visitor to Cape Cod, was walking to the ferry when he suddenly collapsed on the sidewalk of the CHAMP Homes campus. Although George was not breathing, Mark immediately began CPR. He was quickly joined by Linda and Austin. They continued chest compressions until the Hyannis Fire Department arrived to take George to Cape Cod Hospital. There is no doubt that George would not have survived this heart attack had it not been for the courage and quick thinking of Mark, Linda and Austin.
Melissa and her husband, Stuart Schulman, were at their home in West Barnstable on a Friday morning, October 13th, when Melissa witnessed her husband collapse in cardiac arrest. Melissa dialed 911 and began manual CPR on her husband as prompted by the operator and which she had learned previously at a West Barnstable Fire Department course. Melissa credits the quick response of the West Barnstable Fire Department and their expert care for saving her husband’s life. Today we recognize Melissa as the hero she is for keeping her wits about her and applying the skills she learned so the Fire Department could promptly and skillfully care for her husband. Only about 6% of “at home” cardiac arrests survive and Melissa’s husband’s prognosis is for a complete recovery!
Lance Benjamino is the Chief of the Middleborough Fire Department. He recently chaperoned a high school trip to Europe. During a hike in Switzerland, one of the students fell 200 feet down the side of the mountain. Chief Benjamino and one of the mountain guides made the treacherous decent down the mountainside to the injured student. Together, they got the young man on a longboard and carried him 150 feet up the mountain until they reached the rope. After tying him to the longboard, the other students and chaperones were able to pull the student up to a safe spot. They all hiked 90 minutes to the mountain top only to discover that the rescue chopper could not reach them. They trekked back down the mountain to the tram where the injured boy could receive medical help. Chief Benjamino’s heroism is to be commended – he risked his life to save this young man.
One day last spring, Lt. Thomas Lanman III, a firefighter and paramedic with the Hyannis Fire Department, was off duty and shopping at BJs in Hyannis. He noticed a shopper nearby who fell and seemed to be in cardiac arrest. Lt. Lanman immediately began CPR, sent others to find an AED (automated external defibrillator) and instructed those nearby to call 911. Lt. Lanman along with on- duty Barnstable Police Officer Kevin Shaw, continued CPR and delivered shocks via the AED. By the time the Barnstable Fire Department arrived on site, the victim, John Howard, had regained respiratory and cardiac functions. John was alert and verbally responsive during transport to Cape Cod Hospital. The quick heroic actions of Lt. Lanman unquestionably saved this man’s life.
Last December, John McLaughlin was on his way to work as a firefighter with the Brockton Fire Department when he received an alert of a nearby fire. Just a few streets away, John drove over and noticed that the home had a handicapped access ramp. Concerned about who might need help inside, John entered the smoky building and found a woman in a hospital bed, needing assistance. He quickly removed her from her bed and carried her outside to safety. The Brockton Fire Department responded and took the woman to Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital. Thanks to the quick thinking and heroic actions of John, she survived and was able to spend the holidays with her family.
David Sprague of West Tisbury and Peter Jackson of Edgartown both have what they call “The Fishing Disease”. Fishing whenever they can, in spite of the weather, particularly during the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass & Bluefish Derby. Both men put aside their concerns about the bad weather that night and ventured out, separately, to fish. It didn’t take long for Peter’s line to tug with a good fish. As he turned to work the fish, he did a flip off the dock. Looking around from the water, he saw that everything was about eight feet above him and the water was running so fast that he dared not let go of the piling he was hanging onto. Few fishermen braved the nasty weather that night – those who came immediately left and did not hear Peter’s calls for help. Four hours went by. Peter wasn’t sure how much longer he could hold on. When David Sprague arrived on the scene, the weather had not improved. He was heading back to his truck when he heard a faint cry. Searching for the voice, he saw Peter still clinging to the piling. David dialed 911 and got into his car to drive around the pond to the Menemsha dock where Peter was holding on. The Coasties got to Peter first, and with a life ring and a ladder, they were able to get him back onto the dock. Had it not been for “The Fishing Disease”, David and Peter would not have been out that night. Fortunately for Peter, David was there and saved his life.
Bob Hollis, a Plymouth resident and business owner, has long been involved in community service. In 2016, his efforts took a new direction. His son, after being clean and sober for two years, died of a drug overdose. Bob knew that something needed to be done to help those former addicts. His dream was a place that offered continued care and treatment to former addicts who were struggling to hold onto their sobriety. With the help of many and the financial assistance of many more, Bob opened the “Peer Recovery Center” in Plymouth in the summer of 2017. Fully staffed, it serves a growing number of clients who can get the help they need whenever they need it.
Lori Miranda, an officer with the Dennis Police Department and the head of Dennis’ Animal Control Department, works tirelessly as a volunteer for community causes. She raises funds for and participates in the Relay for Life and a bowling night for the American Cancer Society. For Special Olympics, she organized and physically ran Dennis’ leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run. During the holidays, she raises funds for the Malone Dog Park by holding the Pet/Santa Photo Day. Every year the Dennis Police participate in Stuff the Cruiser which provides gifts for needy children. Officer Miranda is there. She serves on the Board of the Dennis Police Association which hosts a 5K to raise scholarship money and donates funds to various community groups. She also helps to coordinate the Shamrock Shuffle 5K. Beyond her job description, Officer Miranda is an Executive Board member of the Cape Cod Hoarding Task Force which helps identify people with a hoarding issue and connects them with assistance. She helps organize the “Neuter and Spay Wagon” and also blood drives at the Dennis Police Station. What an incredible woman!
Last summer, Jake Avery, 17, of Harwichport was working as a lifeguard at Craigville Beach. One day while he was on the tower, a father rushed up to him, holding his 14-month-old son who had stopped breathing. The child was choking on watermelon. Jake performed the Heimlich maneuver by giving the baby a series of five back blows and five chest compressions. The food dislodged and the baby boy began to breathe. The baby and his parents returned a few days later, forever grateful, for this young hero. Jake received his Life Guarding, CPR, and Waterfront Skills Certifications from the American Red Cross.
Lieutenant Matthew Bass is with the MA Environmental Police; Adam Murphy is the Assistant Harbormaster of Marion and Michael Margulis is a commercial diver, also from Marion. On July 26, 2017, a distress call went out from a power vessel in the vicinity of Stony Point Dyke, Wareham. Lt Bass and HM Murphy heard the transmission and immediately raced to the scene in their respective vessels. They found a boat overturned in the water and two adults screaming that a child was trapped under the vessel. HM Murphy jumped into the water and attempted to fix lines to turn the boat over. Lt Bass assisted him but they were not successful. Lt Bass and HM Murphy made several attempts to dive under the vessel to free the child but were thwarted by poor visibility and rough seas. Diver Margulis arrived in the area, jumped into the water in full dive gear and said, “I’m going under”. In less than a minute, diver Margulis located and freed the child. Margulis passed the child to Bass and Murphy and the two began two-person CPR. They continued CPR aboard the Wareham Harbormaster’s vessel until they reached shore and the care of Wareham EMS. The bravery of these men is beyond measure.
Last summer, Barnstable County Deputy Sheriff Eric Iverson was driving on Rt 6 in Yarmouth when he noticed a State Trooper fighting with a recently stopped suspect. The suspect had been stopped and cited for OUI. Eric instinctively pulled over onto the shoulder and immediately began to assist the officer, uniformed Trooper Anthony Chatigny who was assigned to the Yarmouth barracks. The scuffle with the suspect had already included a struggle for the trooper’s handgun and an attempt by the suspect to run over the trooper. Eric jumped into the foray and after an exhaustive grapple, helped Trooper Chatigny subdue the suspect. Were it not for Eric’s quick response and disregard for his own safety, the trooper or the suspect might have been seriously injured.
Cory Palazzi, a Taunton resident, was an honors student at UMass. He played football and baseball in high school and college but suffered a shoulder injury. After surgery for his shoulder, he was prescribed Percocet for the pain and became addicted. In July 2013, he survived an overdose but an anoxic brain injury left him disabled. His life was forever changed. Cory is a true hero – he takes his story of addiction and recovery on the road to thousands of teens. Together with his family, he started a non-profit agency called Cory’s Cause which awards scholarships to local students. He speaks to adults at community forums, to police officers and to the medical field. He partners with the Bristol County District Attorney’s office to speak about addiction and is on the Board for Attorney General Healy’s “Project Here” which is an initiative to bring drug education to every middle school student in MA.
Aviation Survival Technician Third Class Brendan Kiley is a US Coast Guard swimmer assigned to the USCG Air Station Cape Cod. During Hurricane Harvey, AST3 Kiley was deployed to the greater Houston area for rescue operations. He logged 21.3 hours during his three days of operational activity with his helicopter and crew. Rescues included a young boy on dialysis, an elderly couple out of meds, a woman who had her two babies in a plastic tub, a family of 14 on the roof of a one-story house, a woman carried from her hospital bed in her home. Depth of the water ranged from 4-5 feet to over his head. Water rushed down the street like a raging river. Incredibly, AST3 Kiley was able to save 112 lives.
If you ever wondered what inspires a child to go the extra mile, ask Luke Stringer. When the 11-year-old resident of Nantucket met a veteran, his life changed. The veteran and Purple Heart recipient, suffered severe injuries in the Afghanistan war and is now deaf and blind. Because of his extraordinary service to our country, the veteran was given a retreat on Nantucket by an organization called Holiday for Heroes. He told Luke he needed a service dog specifically trained to help him with his complicated physical needs. Luke decided to help raise funds for the training of a veteran’s service dog and enlisted other local kids to host a dog walk and they raised $30,000! With Luke’s perseverance and dedication, a hero now has a service dog. Luke and his friends got to name the service dog. Luke and his friends are a testament to never being too young to make a difference! Luke’s story is mirrored in the fictional story “Max and Charlie Help a Hero” in an example of life imitating art.