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Hundreds Attend Red Cross Lifesavers Award BreakfastTo Honor Local Heroes


The American Red Cross St. Louis Area Chapter honored local Lifesavers during the inaugural Lifesaver Awards Breakfast this morning at the St. Louis Frontenac Hilton in Frontenac.

The event was sponsored by 11 local companies. AAA, Ameren and Peabody Energy were presenting sponsors. In addition, BP, Centene, Energizer, Drury Hotels, Hardees, American Direct, Ekon Benefits and KMOX Radio also joined the Red Cross in support of our local Lifesavers.

Through this event, the Red Cross recognized those who courageously acted to save others, and inspire individuals to get lifesaving training. While this is the first year as a breakfast celebration, the St. Louis Red Cross has honored Lifesavers for 20 years. More than 500 individuals have been honored.

Here is a look at the categories and the respective winners:

Good Samaritan Youth Award

Honoree: Austin Roberts; saved a friend from choking

Sponsor: AAA

Austin Roberts, 10, stood in the lunch line every day at Webster Elementary School in Collinsville, Illinois, looking at a Red Cross poster for “Conscious Choking.” One day at lunch, Austin noticed his friend’s face was turning purple, and then the boy began pounding on the table. After staring at the Red Cross poster every day, Austin knew exactly what to do. He stood behind his friend, Jordan Durbin, and repeatedly squeezed up and in on his abdomen. These actions dislodged the food – a corn dog. The boy says Austin saved his life.

Good Samaritan Adult Award

Honorees: Phil Stassi, Keeleigh McAfee; performed CPR on heart attack victim

Sponsor: BP

The gods must have been smiling on James Wardein last winter. James suffered a massive heart attack in the parking lot of the International House of Pancakes in Wood River, Illinois. He fell in a location not visible to those inside the restaurant. Keeleigh McAfee was driving past the IHOP when she saw James lying on the ground. She jumped out of her van and proceeded to give him CPR. She caught the attention of the people in the restaurant. A patron, Phil Stassi, joined her and started chest compressions. Keeleigh continued with CPR until an ambulance arrived. The fire and rescue officials on the scene say their quick and continued actions saved James’ life.

Animal Rescue Award

Honoree: Julie Dubman; has rescued and nursed to health more than one-thousand animals

Sponsor: KMOX Radio

Julie Dubman has been an animal lover most of her life, starting as a little girl when she would give her lunch to hungry looking strays. A long-time supporter of local and national animal advocacy groups, she has carried a rescue box in her trunk and set up a “rescue room” in her home to care for stray, abused animals until she can find new homes for them. She estimates she has placed more than one-thousand animals in new homes. Dubman considers animal rescue her full-time job, and devotes forty percent of her income to the cause.

Health Care Professional Award

Honoree: Dr. Josh Glaser; saved a friend’s life after heart procedure

Sponsor: Centene

On Super Bowl Sunday, Dr. Josh Glaser went to the hospital to visit a friend who wasn’t doing well. Doctors had recently performed a stent procedure on Judy Navarre, who had suffered a heart attack. The minute Dr. Glaser reached her bedside, he knew something was terribly wrong. He took her blood pressure, and it was crashing. She was having an adverse reaction to blood pressure medication. Dr. Glaser immediately worked with the emergency staff to treat her, and started by opening her IV to force fluids. Medical professionals say Judy was just seconds away from cardiac arrest and total organ failure.

Blood Services Award

Honoree: Laura Lebedun; acted as direct blood donor to mother with leukemia

Sponsor: Ameren

Laura Lebedun is being honored for helping to save her mother’s life. Kathy Lebedun was receiving blood transfusions to treat her leukemia. Her daughter Laura, who was away at college at the time, got tested and became a direct donor so that she could give her genetically-matched blood directly to her mother. It’s been 20 years since Kathy was diagnosed. She now volunteers at local Red Cross blood drives, and Laura continues to donate her blood for others to use. She knows first-hand how one person can make a difference.

Disaster Relief Award

Honoree: Roy Gillespie; assists in logistics operations during local and national disasters

Sponsor: Energizer

Roy Gillespie is a Red Cross disaster volunteer who choreographs logistics in large scale disasters with such command and grace he’s earned the title “the Master of Disaster.” Roy moves stuff. In Joplin when deadly tornadoes struck, leaving a path of destruction one mile wide and six miles long, the national Red Cross office called Roy to help get supplies to disaster operations set up throughout Jasper County. Spending 18-hour days orchestrating deliveries, pickups and warehousing, and sleeping in the Downstream Casino at night, Roy coordinated a recovery effort that will be studied and copied for decades. Today, Roy gives on-going advice on logistics for disaster operations both here at home and around the country.

Emergency Medical Award

Honoree: Alex Stock; used firefighter and EMT training to rescue car accident victim

Sponsor: American Direct

Alex Stock, a security specialist at Monsanto, witnessed a car accident on his way to work. With his firefighter and paramedic training, he knew how seriously the driver would be injured. When Alex got up close to the car, he saw the unconscious driver slumped over the center console. Alex knew he had to act. The car was so severely damaged, the doors were inoperable. Alex broke out the back window and climbed in to reach the driver, who had begun to suffer seizures. Alex realized the driver might have spinal injuries, so he maintained spinal immobilization while applying jaw thrusts to make sure the patient’s airways remained open. The fire department arrived and began working to pull the car from around the driver. Together, everyone brought the victim to safety.

Firefighter Award

Honorees: Captain Jack Ley, Tony Kirk, Scott Quick, Kurt Ellermann, Kyle Wilken, Kyle Sanders (Fire Department); Dawn Wilcox, Lori Gruendler (Dispatchers); Sgt. Margaret Trittler, Travis Knoop (Police); worked together to resuscitate and transport young boy to hospital

Sponsor: Ekon Benefits

When Valley Park Fire and Rescue received a call about an unresponsive 12-year-old boy who was not breathing, dispatchers Dawn Wilcox and Lori Gruendler tried to calm the caller while alerting police and emergency medical technicians. As the ambulance and fire truck raced to the boy’s home, the dispatchers radioed to alert the responders that the parents had decided to drive the boy to the hospital. The crews on board the ambulance and fire truck worked to try to intercept the family’s car, but then learned they had stopped at a local precinct where police were administering CPR on the boy. EMT officials got there, took over, and transported the boy to the hospital, where advanced lifesaving measures continued. The patient was able to walk out of the hospital less than a week later, and has fully recovered.

Water Safety Award

Honorees: Cara Merritt, Darla Hollowood, Whitney Brickner; saved young girl from drowning

Sponsor: Peabody Energy

In August last year, a St. Charles Daisy Troop was having a pool party to kick off the new scouting year. Six-year-old Ellie Kleffner went down the slide, into the pool, and did not surface. A mother at the party, Darla Hollowood, noticed that Ellie had been in the water too long. Whitney Brickner jumped in to get her out, and troop leader Cara Merritt helped lift her to the side. Ellie was blue and not breathing. Cara began rescue breaths, and Whitney started compressions, while Darla called 911. Ellie spit up water and began to cry. She was conscious when the paramedics arrived, and is doing fine now.

Law Enforcement Award

Honoree: Corporal Christopher Moore; rescued car accident victim from vehicle on fire

Sponsor: Drury Hotels

Corporal Christopher Moore answered a dispatch call about an injured driver in an overturned car. When the Corporal arrived, he found a vehicle on its side and in flames. Inside, the semi-conscious driver was pinned under the steering column. The passenger and a bystander had tried to free him but could not. Without regard to his own safety, Corporal Moore worked to free the trapped man. As the flames spread, the young Corporal refused to give up. Just before the car became completely engulfed in flames, Moore carried and dragged the man to safety. According to the emergency medical crew at the scene, Corporal Moore’s actions saved the driver’s life and prevented severe burns.

Military Award

Honoree: Master Sergeant David Pinkham, U.S. Air Force; defused live bombs during missions

Sponsor: Hardees

If you who have seen the movie “The Hurt Locker”, you know what Master Sergeant David Pinkham does. He is an “explosive ordinance disposal” team leader. He defuses live bombs. In Afghanistan, Master Sergeant Pinkham led teams that diffused 50 live bombs. During one mission on a heavily traveled road, Sgt. Pinkham donned the bomb suit and separated the bomb from the activator and power source. On another mission, he navigated through a narrow and treacherous culvert to remove two jugs of homemade explosives to protect a road vital to Coalition Forces. As bomb diffusor, Master Sergeant Pinkham is an ultimate lifesaver. We will never know how many lives he saved.

The American Red Cross, St. Louis Area Chapter, is a proud member of the United Way of Greater St. Louis.