Long Beach, March 19, 2013 - The Greater Long Beach Chapter of the American Red Cross honored fifteen heroic individuals at its ninth annual Hometown Heroes Awards Ceremony on Thursday, March 14 at The Grand Long Beach Event Center.
Business leaders, family, friends and members of the community came to recognize the brave extraordinary acts of individuals who changed someone’s life. Rich Archbold, Community Liaison Director, Editor Emeritus and columnist at the Press Telegram was the emcee.
The Hometown Heroes Award recipients were presented with a medal and plaque for their heroic act by Greater Long Beach Chapter CEO Margaret Arbini Madonna and Board of Directors Chairman Mollie Beck.
Humanitarian Sponsors were BP America, represented by Walter Neil and Edison International, represented by Ben Harvey and Preparedness Sponsors were TABC, represented by Jim Zehmer.
Ryan Gordon and Keith Dodson
On November 13, 2012, Ryan Gordon was working in his office which overlooks the water in Naples and Keith Dodson was out for his morning run. Ryan heard tires screeching, looked out the window, and saw a pickup truck going into the water. He ran down the back stairs and through the fence where the truck had gone. Someone on the bridge yelled that there was a person in the truck. Ryan kicked off his shoes, scrambled down the rocks, and dove in. He could see that the driver, Richard, was trying to get out, but could not open the windows or door due to the water pressure. Ryan was able to open the sliding back window of the truck, but the driver could get only his shoulder and head out, not the rest of his body. The truck was sinking, and Ryan could see the panic on Richard’s face.
Meanwhile, Keith approached the bridge at PCH and River Trail and saw what he first took to be a trash dumpster, but then realized was a truck. As he crossed the bridge, he saw Ryan swim toward the truck, so Keith moved down the rocks, picking one up as he went, and swam for the truck. When he got to the truck, he swung at the window with the rock, but it just bounced off. The same happened with the second swing. The third one broke the window. The pressure of the water rushing into the truck plastered Keith against the truck and pulled Ryan under. As soon as the pressure neutralized they were able to rise to the surface, with Keith pulling Richard up. Ryan verified that there were no other passengers in the truck, then swam back to the rocks
On August 28, 2012, Ian Baldwin’s dad, who was at work in Culver City, got a call from 4 year old Ian, made on his Mom’s cellphone. Ian said “Mommy is having a seizure”. Dad asked if she was breathing, and Ian said she was. Dad called 911, and after being misdirected to the nearest paramedics, was finally able to reach Long Beach and ask them to dispatch paramedics. When they arrived, Ian, who is usually shy, coolly let them in and showed them where his mom, Misty, was.
Because Misty suffers from seizures, she and her husband have been practicing what to do with Ian since he was old enough to use a phone. They would make a game of it; Misty would leave her phone on the table and Ian’s Dad would hide in the closet and they would have Ian call him, then reward Ian with candy. Misty’s biggest fear was that she would have a seizure when out walking with Ian. So, on their walks, she would pretend to have a seizure, fall to the ground, and say “Now I’m having a seizure, call Dad.” Ian had seen his mom have seizures, but she is rarely home alone so he had not had to actually respond before.
Although they had practiced many times, they were not sure how much of the training had stayed with Ian nor if he would connect it to a real event. It was great to see that he remembered to check whether his mom was breathing, get her phone, and call his Dad.
Later, the paramedics noted how great Ian was, as he was able to give them his name and address, his parent’s names, how his mom has a history of seizures and where she keeps her medication. His parents are amazed at, and grateful for, what a four-year old can do, especially with practice.
Chris Rowe and Gary Alban
Around 4 p.m. on April 18, 2012, Gary Alban noticed the smell of smoke while talking to a neighbor. Soon he could see smoke in the air, but could not tell where it was coming from. He went into his backyard and looked over the block wall and saw smoke coming from a sliding glass door in his neighbor’s house. He jumped into his jeep and drove around the block, where he could see smoke in the house and hear the smoke alarm sounding.
Concerned that if he entered the house someone would think he was breaking in. He spotted a neighbor standing nearby talking on his cellphone and called to him and let him know he was going to enter the house. That neighbor was Chris Rowe, an off-duty Long Beach Fire Department Assistant Chief, who was alerting the communications center that they needed to dispatch responders to a residential fire. When Gary reached the sliding door, he saw an elderly lady trying to throw water on the fire. Gary opened the door, and used the garden hose to put water on the fire.
Chris arrived and offered to take over the firefighting, but Gary told him that there was a woman in the house who had gone farther inside, so Chris went in to look for her. He crawled in about 15 feet, and could see her sitting in a chair. He gave her “a big bear hug from behind” and dragged her out of the house. She was breathing and awake, but had soot around her mouth, which indicated that she had taken in a lot of smoke, and she had burns on her hands. While Gary continued to spray water on the fire, Chris went back in to see if there was anyone else in the house.
Not finding anyone, he went out and reported on the situation to the fire crew who had arrived.
Elisah Hollens works with another Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN), and they take care of twins. On February 23, 2012, her second day working with Ethel they decided to walk the twins to get lunch about 2 miles away. After lunch, about a block from the restaurant Ethel said she was out of breath. Elisah suggested they stop and rest, but Ethel said she’d just have a drink of soda and would be fine.
As soon as they crossed the street, Ethel said “I need to stop right now” and fell to the ground, knocking over the stroller. Elisah called Ethel’s name, while picking up the twins in the stroller, but Ethel did not respond. Elisah grabbed her phone and called 911, but realized that she didn’t know exactly where she was, being new to the area. While she tried to describe the location, a man walked up and asked if he could help, so Elisah gave him the phone so he could talk to the 911 dispatcher. Elisah began doing CPR on Ethel. She continued for quite a while, and was drenched in sweat by when the paramedics arrived. Ethel did not regain consciousness until the paramedics used the defibrillator to revive her.
Elisah notes that this was the first time she has used CPR alone. It had been hard for her to renew her training, because without a babysitter she had to take her children to class with her. But she had done so, and just two weeks later found herself using those skills to keep Ethel alive. Elisah was glad that she had learned the newer technique, which focuses on compressions, with fewer rescue breaths.
Dr. Helene Calvet, Maria Bailey, Kathy Dollarhide, Barbara Lindsay, Diane Dewalsche
At The Grand on August 28, 2012, Dr. Helene Calvet was on stage receiving the Soroptomists Distinguished Woman of the Year Award, when she heard someone call her name, and saw people clustered around a guest. Dr. Calvet’s sister, Maria Bailey, got there first and helped lay down the woman, who had collapsed onto the table. Dr. Calvet first thought the woman had a seizure, but when she tried to wake her, the woman stopped breathing. Dr. Calvet could feel no pulse, so she began doing CPR compressions and asked Maria to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Maria found that the woman’s tongue was so swollen that she had to ventilate through her nose.
Barbara Lindsay, a retired public health nurse and nurse Diane Dewalsche, let Dr. Calvet know they were right next to her, and so they began spelling each other doing the chest compressions.
Kathy Dollarhide, an experienced nurse and disaster coordinator, returned from the restroom to find the rescue in process. She took over the rescue breaths from Maria. When the fire department did arrive, they had difficulty starting the IV line because the victim was really clamped down and getting cyanotic. Because of her disaster preparedness work, Kathy knew the firemen who responded, so they let her take over and insert the IV. She told someone to get the AED, and yelled at people to clear the room, as she cut off the fallen woman’s clothes and covered her with a table cloth, to make it easier to work on her.
Thankfully the person survived and is doing well
Edward Newby & Traci Arsenault
Marc Hawkins, who is an officer with the Long Beach Police Department and lives in Huntington Beach, was walking with his wife to the local market on August 8, 2011 to get creamer for their coffee. As they approached the market, they came upon a group of people standing around an older man. At first they started to walk past, because there were about 15 people there, but then Marc heard someone say “Somebody do something!”. Marc stepped in, saw a man on the ground, unresponsive, and realized he needed to do CPR.
Marc began doing chest compressions, and a woman who obviously knew the victim started giving rescue breaths. It turned out that the downed man was the owner of the store, who had had a heart attack, and the woman was his employee. Marc and the employee continued CPR until the paramedics arrived, revived the man, and transported him to a hospital.
Marc had CPR training in college, and had updated his training after joining the LBPD. This was Marc’s first time doing CPR on someone. He notes that you feel an obligation that has nothing to do with being a police officer, but just to help a person in need. Marc notes that “Anybody can do this, right? If you think you can do something even if you’re not proficient at it, I’d rather do it than not do it.”
Although very sad that the victim died after two weeks in the hospital, Marc’s wife noted that he gave the family that much more time together, and the chance to say their goodbyes.
Edward Newby & Traci Arsenault
On July 10, 2012, after an evening of bowling, Edward Newby and his girlfriend, Traci, were heading east on Carson street and had stopped at the signal before the freeway entrance. Traci said ”Check it out, those two women are fighting.” Edward looked, and could see that one woman was stabbing the other.
He told Traci to stop the car, and he got out and ran toward the women, yelling “Drop the knife!” When the attacker saw Edward, she did drop the knife – Edward thinks she thought he was a police officer. Edward told her to stay on the curb, and she did. The other woman had gotten up off the ground and walked a few feet, but then fell back to the sidewalk.
When Edward asked the injured woman if she was okay, she said that she did not want to be touched. Edward called 911 telling Traci that she was probably in shock, and was obviously bleeding. He asked Traci to stay with her while he, Edward, directed the traffic that was trying to go around the incident and on to the freeway.
Traci offered first aid, but the woman again said, since they did not have gloves she did not want to be touched. To avoid touching her, but still assist, Traci used the woman’s backpack to apply direct pressure to the worst of the stab wounds. Edward kicked the other woman’s bag and the knife away from oncoming traffic, and directed traffic away from the scene until law enforcement personnel arrived.
On August 13, 2012, Art Peacock was awakened by a neighbor who said that another neighbor’s house, across the street, was on fire. Art was very concerned because he knew the man in that house could not walk and used a wheelchair to get around. He also knew that the house had bars on the windows and doors. Art ran to the back door which was the easiest way to get into the house, but found that the fire was approaching that door.
So he ran to the side door, but found it was locked. He knew that there was a security bar inside that his neighbor could not open. Lakewood Sheriff’s deputies arrived, and because Art knew his neighbor’s house so well, he was able to direct them to the bedroom windows that had the release mechanism for the security bars. A deputy pulled the bars off and broke the window and slid it open. Art was worried that Tony, the homeowner, might have a heart attack from fear, and so he crawled through the window.
He looked first for the wife and son, but they weren’t there. He helped Tony to the back door, but couldn’t open it. A deputy broke the lock in an attempt to get it open, but to no avail. So, Art had to help Tony to the side door, which was closest to the fire. Art, who had just had open heart surgery, called for the deputies to assist in lifting Tony out of the house through the side door. Together, they were able to get him out. Art credits the Sheriff’s deputy for opening the security bars, which was the key to getting in to save Tony.
Dr. Arthur Ramos
Last year Dr. Ramos was at home doing chores in his front yard when he saw his neighbor, Doug, jogging. He stopped and they started chatting, just a casual neighborly conversation. Four to five minutes later Doug started to walk backward and was saying goodbye and was 8-10 feet away from Dr. Ramos when his eyes all of a sudden rolled back into his head and his body became very stiff. His hands and legs got stiff and he began walking like a robot. Dr. Ramos called out to Doug and was going toward him when all of sudden he started to make guttural sounds and fell backwards and hit his head hard on the concrete. Dr. Ramos ran to him and grabbed his head to check for injuries, Doug suddenly started going into a seizure.
Dr. Ramos supported his head while he was seizing while at the same time trying to grab his phone to call for help. At that moment another jogger stopped to assist and he asked the jogger to call 911. Suddenly Doug let out a huge breath and stopped breathing. Dr. Ramos thought, “OK here it is, now I have to do CPR on this guy”. He checked his pulse, there was a good strong pulse and said to himself, “Thank God at least his ticker is still working.” Dr. Ramos rubbed Doug’s chest telling him, “Doug wake up, wake up” and was getting ready to perform CPR when Doug started breathing on his own. The paramedic’s arrived soon after and took Doug to the hospital where he later recovered.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org