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North Country Red Cross to Honor Community Heroes

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"We are very excited to be honoring local heroes at Fire and Ice this year"

The North Country Chapter of the American Red Cross will host its annual Fire + Ice event on Saturday, April 9 at the West Side Ballroom in Plattsburgh. For the first time in this event’s history, the 2016 Fire + Ice program will feature a “Real Hero” awards presentation in which several outstanding North Country citizens will be honored as community heroes.

John Stafford, a seasoned member of the CVPH ambulance crew, will be honored with the Real Hero Military Award for the role he played in escorting a WWII veteran on a North Country Honor Flight. Stafford was on duty when 93-year-old Rudolph “Rudy” Chapola was transported to the CVPH emergency room from his home in Champlain, NY. Stafford and Chapola became fast friends, and got to know each other better while Chapola was in the hospital. When the Honor Flight opportunity arose – a chance Chapola had to turn down twice before because of health concerns – Stafford agreed to serve as his escort to our nation’s capital. Thanks to Stafford, WWII veteran Rudy Chapola was able to experience a military honor 60 years in the making.

Trooper Bryan J. Caron, of the New York State Police in Keeseville, will receive the Real Hero Law Enforcement Award for his lifesaving actions during a call in the Town of Chesterfield last May. On Monday, May 18, 2015, police responded to a report of an adult male in cardiac arrest. Upon arriving at the scene, Trooper Caron quickly initiated CPR, administered a shock from an automated external defibrillator, and continued CPR until the arrival of Keeseville EMS. Thanks to Trooper Caron’s quick thinking and lifesaving training, the patient made a complete recovery.

Four employees from the Ausable Club in Keene Valley will receive the Real Hero Education Award and the Keene Valley Volunteer Fire Department will be honored with the Real Hero Fire Rescue Award following a joint emergency response this summer. When a 79-year-old man suffered a heart attack while playing tennis at the Ausable Club in August, a team of exemplary employees sprang into action to help. Tennis pro Pete Rapelye immediately began CPR, and was eventually joined by Mark Guennel and Richard Plank, two greens keepers from the golf course. Front Desk operator Claudia Hernandez called 911 and administered the AED to deliver a shock to the patient in cardiac arrest. From there, a member of the Keene Valley Volunteer Fire Department arrived on the scene and took over CPR. The patient had regained his pulse and begun to gasp for air by the time he was transferred to the hospital, where he recovered fully. Thanks to the teamwork, training, and selflessness of all involved, a tragic situation was avoided.

“We are very excited to be honoring local heroes at Fire and Ice this year,” said Jane Gendron, executive director of the American Red Cross North Country Chapter. “These are people who have really exemplified the lifesaving mission of the Red Cross, so it seems only fitting that we celebrate their heroic acts at our signature event in this community.”

Tickets to Fire + Ice 2016 can be reserved online at Proceeds will benefit the American Red Cross North Country Chapter and support local Red Cross programs and services. For more information, contact Jane Gendron at (518) 561-7280 or email