IDAHO FALLS, IDAHO, One man rescued his wife from a burning camper. Another pulled a victim from a vehicle submerged in water. A third talked a distraught military veteran from taking his own life.
These three and many others were honored Thursday during the Red Cross of Greater Idaho’s fourth annual East Idaho Real Heroes Awards luncheon at the Hilton Garden Inn in Idaho Falls. The event honors East Idaho individuals who put their own safety at risk to help save the life of another. Some of the winners have made careers of saving lives while others answered the call for the first time without any formal training, but all embody the spirit of the American Red Cross.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to bring our communities together to honor some truly remarkable people,” said Christopher Davis, chief development officer for the Red Cross of Greater Idaho and Montana. “Today’s heroes are all bold, humble and selfless and really represent the humanitarianism of the Red Cross.”
More than 150 people including first-responders, community leaders and elected officials attended Thursday’s awards luncheon.
Heroes were recognized in 11 categories:
Fire Safety heroes – The Pocatello Fire Department and Safe Haven Care Center staff were honored for their efforts to safely evacuate the care center’s 49 residents during a fire that completely destroyed the building.
Law Enforcement heroes – Idaho Falls Police Officer Bart Whiting was recognized for keeping a suicidal military veteran with a gun from harming himself or others.
Youth heroes – Lazai Koontz, Joshua Clarke and Whitney Apel were honored for helping authorities locate a vehicle that was swerving all over the road and crashing into mailboxes and fences. The teens called 9-1-1, followed the vehicle and began recording it with a cellphone. The driver was charged with her fourth DUI.
Medical heroes – Highland High School Athletic Director Keith Forkin and off-duty Pocatello firefighter Jake Liday were honored for helping save a 77-year-old who suffered a heart attack while officiating a high school basketball game.
Search and rescue hero – The Teton County Sheriff’s Department, Grand Teton National Park rangers and Randy Lee and Jonathan Cook were honored for helping rescue a man who had a heart attack during a backcountry ski trip to Maverick Peak.
Animal rescue hero – The Idaho Falls Animal Shelter staff and volunteers were awarded for caring for the 1,800 dogs and 2,500 cats that came into the shelter in 2017.
Workplace hero – UPS driver Coy Danner was honored for helping pull a man from a vehicle submerged in water following a crash.
Water safety hero – Idaho Falls Fire Department, the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office and Nathan Fillmore were honored for rescuing a man who had fallen into the Snake River on a cold January day.
Blood donor hero – Taylorview Middle School teacher Jeremy Plothow was recognized for donating blood, and helping save lives, for more than 10 years.
Every Day Citizen hero – Larry Orchard was honored for helping save his wife from an explosion and fire inside their camper. With burns on his hands and back, Orchard ran into the camper, got his wife out and then used his elbows to steer as he drove an hour to the nearest medical facility in Arco.
Spirit of the Red Cross – Pocatello Police Officer Kenny McClure was recognized for helping a homeless man he saw walking down the street barefoot on a cold December day. McClure bought the man a pair of shoes and an also a bus ticket to Idaho Falls where he was trying to go.
All the money raised during this year’s event will be used to purchase a new Red Cross emergency response vehicle in Eastern Idaho. During a disaster, these vehicles are on the frontline, delivering food, supplies and hope to those neighborhoods cut off from the critical services they depend on.
If you would like to donate to the Idaho Red Cross, give blood or become a volunteer, please visit www.redcross.org/idaho to learn more.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or facebook.com/redcrossidaho.