Several local area heroes – including two young boys – were honored by the American Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties for their bravery and heroism at its 14th annual Real Heroes of Portage County event Thursday, May 16 at Camp Ravenna. The event recognizes ordinary local residents who displayed extraordinary courage during an emergency to save the life of another.
The 2013 Red Cross Real Heroes Award Recipients include:
Seven-year-old Camden and Jackson Buckley are twin brothers. But since birth, Jackson has suffered from seizures. As a result, Camden has learned to keep a close eye on his brother at all times and to be ready to help if he needs to. Recently, when the two boys were sharing a bath together, a seizure swept over Jackson. Almost immediately, Jackson lost consciousness and fell face first into the bath water. Their mother, Tracy, had just left the room to fetch some additional bath towels. Instead of panicking, Camden carefully raised his brother’s head safely out of the water. He also turned it to the side so that Jackson would not choke as a result of the seizure. Only then – with Jackson safe – did Camden call to his mom. Hearing her son’s voice, Tracy raced back to the bathroom. As the two lifted Jackson out of the tub, Tracy realized that Camden’s calmness and resolve had perhaps saved his brother’s life that night.
Katherine Noahr, a switchboard operator at Robinson Memorial Hospital, had just come on duty when her first call came in. On the line was a man who quietly told Katherine that he wanted to kill himself and had just taken a bottle of pills. Calling on her Crisis Intervention Training, Katherine began to engage the man in conversation. Gradually, the man began to tell Katherine about his many personal problems. When Katherine asked for his name and address, though, the man hung up. Using the switchboard’s caller ID, Katherine was able to return his call. Surprised that Katherine had called him back, the man continued their conversation. But when Katherine again asked for his name and address, he hung up again. But Katherine persisted and called him back a second time. Touched by Katherine’s concern, the man finally gave her his name and address. Quickly, Katherine gave the information to one of her colleagues, who in turn called 911. Katherine remained on the phone to reassure the man until help arrived. Without Katherine’s intervention, the man’s attempt at suicide may have succeeded.
Six-year-old Parker Hollender and his mother, Paula, were playing in their backyard last August, when Paula felt faint and lay down to rest. But Parker knew that something was wrong when he could not wake his mother despite all of his efforts. Frightened, Parker found his mom’s cell phone and speed-dialed his father. During their brief conversation, Parker suddenly told his father “I have to call 911.” Parker immediately hung up the phone and dialed 911. The surprised police dispatcher was eventually able to collect enough information about his location that an emergency team was dispatched to the house. Upon their arrival, the team found Parker standing in the driveway waving them down. He led them to the back yard where his mother still lay unconscious. Although the team was able to revive Paula, they insisted that she be transported to a hospital for further observation. While on the way to the hospital, Paula had a relapse and stopped breathing. The medi cs quickly administered a breathing apparatus to keep her alive. Otherwise, Paula might have died. But Parker’s calm, determined efforts to call 911 that day had saved her life.
Streetsboro Police Officer Aaron Coates
While on patrol through the Streetsboro City Park, Officer Aaron Coates noticed a crowd had gathered nearby. As he prepared to investigate, Officer Coates heard reports over his radio from the City Park of a small child choking and unable to breathe. Upon reaching the crowd, he found an off-duty nurse was attempting to administer child CPR to an unresponsive two-year-old. With the CPR not having the desired effect, the two examined the child further. Officer Coates then noticed that the child’s mouth and airways had become severely swollen – preventing him from breathing. Immediately, Officer Coates forced two of his fingers down the child’s throat to force the passageways open. His desperate measure worked as the child began to breathe again. Within minutes an EMS team arrived. With his fingers still in the child’s mouth, Officer Coates carried the child to the ambulance – afraid that if he removed his fingers, the child could still choke to dea th. Once the child was placed on a breathing apparatus, the ambulance raced him to the hospital where he made a full recovery. Later, Officer Coates learned that the child had a seizure brought on by an allergic reaction. He also learned that his quick actions had saved the child’s life.
Streetsboro Police Sergeant Andrew Suvada
When a 911 call came into the Streetsboro police department from a local bar and restaurant that a man was threatening suicide as well as the lives of other patrons, all eyes turned to Sergeant Andrew Suvada. A member of the Portage County Crisis Intervention Team or CIT, Sergeant Suvada has undergone extensive training in managing crisis situations for the safety of everyone involved. Accompanied by two fellow officers as back-up, Sergeant Suvada headed for the scene. As he stepped inside the restaurant, he immediately saw a clearly agitated man pointing a gun to his head threatening to kill himself as well as threatening a man and a woman who were also in the room. Sergeant Suvada immediately caught the man’s attention and engaged him in conversation, asking him about his friends and his family. Gradually, the man began to calm down and open up to Sergeant Suvada. As the conversation progressed, Sergeant Suvada saw the man’s resolve slowly wavering. “Can you put the gun down for me,” asked Sergeant Suvada and to everyone’s relief he did. His fellow officers cautiously approached the man and quietly lead him away. Like countless times before, Sergeant Suvada had defused a life-threatening situation thanks to the training he had received as a Crisis Intervention Team member.
Note: Sergeant Andrew Suvada is also the Ohio CIT Officer of the Year for 2008 and the CIT International Officer of the Year for 2011.
Aurora Fire Captain Bill Lovell, Police Sergeant Andrew Lumpkins and Officers Joe LaPerna and David Prislan
Responding to a 911 call, Aurora Fire Captain Bill Lovell, Police Sergeant Andrew Lumpkins and Officers Joe LaPerna and David Prislan all arrived at the scene of a house fire nearly simultaneously, well ahead of responding fire trucks and ambulances. Heavy black smoke and flames were pouring out of the one-story structure. Neighbors told the four men that a woman was still trapped inside the house. Knowing they had only seconds to spare, the four determined to enter the house in hopes of saving the woman’s life without regard to their own safety and without protective fire equipment. As Sergeant Lumpkins and Officer LaPerna approached the front door, they could hear the woman’s cries for help. Sergeant Lumpkins kicked the door down and the two men forced their way through the thick, blinding smoke. Following the woman’s voice, Officer LaPerna was the first to locate her. He tried to drag her towards the door but was having little success. Finding a nearby bl anket, he quickly rolled the woman onto it and was able to move her more easily. Within sight of the door, Captain Lovell and Sergeant Lumpkins joined him and they half-lifted, half-drug the woman out through the front door to safety. But the smoke and exertion had been too much and Officer LaPerna collapsed still inside the house. His absence was immediately noticed by Captain Lovell, who went back into the fire and smoke. He quickly located Officer LaPerna and dragged him outside. By now, fire trucks and ambulances were everywhere. As medics treated the four for smoke inhalation, an ambulance raced the woman who had received severe burns over most of her body to a nearby hospital. Unfortunately, those burns would claim her life several days later. Nonetheless, the actions performed by the four comrades that day were truly heroic.
Click here for more information about the Red Cross Real Heroes of Portage County Awards.