American Red Cross Honors Real Heroes of Tompkins, Cortland Counties

ITHACA, N.Y. (April 4, 2014) — The American Red Cross of Cortland County and the American Red Cross of Tompkins County will honor several individuals and organizations for their heroic actions during the past year at the Fourth Annual Cortland-Tompkins Real Heroes Breakfast from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 16, at Greek Peak Mountain Resort.

The Real Heroes Breakfast celebrates the Red Cross mission of alleviating human suffering by recognizing people from throughout Cortland and Tompkins counties who performed heroic acts in life-threatening situations. Among this year’s honorees: Two bystanders who performed CPR to save the lives of strangers; first responders who saved a man who lost his arm in a farming accident; and a Cornell University veterinarian who restored eyesight to a 5-year-old Yorkie.

Proceeds from the Real Heroes Breakfast benefit the Red Cross of Cortland County and Red Cross of Tompkins County, which provide relief to victims of disasters and help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies. From July through February the Red Cross provided nearly $21,000 to 127 people from 56 families impacted by home fires, floods and other disasters in Cortland and Tompkins counties.

Award sponsors for the 2014 Real Heroes Breakfast are: Cayuga Medical Center, CFCU Community Credit Union, Cortland Regional Medical Center, Dryden Mutual Insurance, Maguire Family of Dealerships, NBT Bank and Pall Corporation.

A limited number of tickets remain for the Real Heroes Breakfast. Tickets are $30 each, or $250 for a table of eight. To purchase tickets, call 315-234-2225 or email For information on how to become a Real Heroes Breakfast sponsor, contact Michele Whalen, Manager, American Red Cross of Cortland County, at (607) 753-1182 or

Here’s the list of this year’s Real Heroes Breakfast awards and honorees:

• Adult Good Samaritan Award: Gordon Guest
On Valentine’s Day, Guest was plowing snow at a rental property he owns on Clinton Avenue in Cortland when he noticed a crowd and heard someone yell, “Does anyone know CPR?” Guest, of Dryden, performed CPR on a 66-year-old man who had suffered cardiac arrest and kept him breathing until TLC Emergency Medical Services arrived.
• Honorable Mention: TLC Emergency Medical Services, Cortland
A team of five TLC members responded to the emergency on Clinton Avenue on Valentine’s Day and moved the man to the ambulance, continued CPR and started Advanced Life Support Care. About three minutes after the ambulance arrived, the man regained consciousness.

• Animal Rescue Award: Dr. Eric Ledbetter and Wendy English, Cornell University Hospital for Animals, and Shamrock Animal Fund
In January, Veterinary Ophthalmologist Ledbetter performed successful surgery to remove cataracts from the eyes of Zacky, an otherwise healthy 5-year-old Yorkie. Zacky’s owners received financial assistance from a Cornell grant, arranged through English, and the Shamrock Animal Fund, a not-for-profit organization that helps pay for veterinary care.

• Education Award: Clark Rodman
Rodman is a lead instructor for the American Red Cross Healthy and Safety training team who often teaches at the Red Cross office in Ithaca and has trained more than 14,000 people in CRP/AED/First Aid. Rodman trained Good Neighbor Award winner Katie Aldridge.

• Fire Rescue Award: David Jensen
Last May, Captain Jensen and the Cortland Fire Department responded to a fire on the 10th floor of the Senior Housing Complex on Church Street. Jensen located a barely-conscious person in a room filled with smoke and pooling water and carried the person to safety and medical help.

• Good Neighbor Award: Katie Aldridge
Last May, Aldridge, of Ithaca, was out for a jog at Cass Park when she saw a man lying on the ground, surrounded by people. Aldridge, who had recently been trained in CPR by American Red Cross instructor and Education Award winner Clark Rodman, performed CPR on the man and kept him alive until the ambulance arrived.

• Law Enforcement Award: Cortland County Sheriff’s Department Officers Caprice Van Auken and John Gallagher
On Jan. 4, Officers Van Auken and Gallagher were on DWI patrol in Homer when they discovered a male in a car who had attempted suicide and was in critical condition. The officers administered medical assistance until the ambulance arrived, and the man survived.

• Medical Award: Marathon Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps (MAVAC)
On Aug. 20, MAVAC was dispatched to Freetown, where a farmer had accidentally amputated his arm while operating a hay baler. The crew stopped the bleeding, established an IV, provided oxygen and prepared the man for his helicopter ride to a Syracuse hospital, where surgery to reconnect his arm was unsuccessful but the man lived.

• Industrial Safety Award: Garrick Henry
Henry, of Cortland, is the Security and Safety Coordinator for the Cortland Regional Medical Center (CRMC) and a member of the Cortlandville Fire Department. Henry led the team that rescued 70 Walden Place Nursing Home residents in the aftermath of the flooding on Aug. 8.

• Youth Good Samaritan Award: SUNY Cortland Emergency Medical Services
Comprised of more than 60 students, SUNY Cortland EMS is a first-response unit on the SUNY Cortland campus that also teaches life-saving lessons to the campus community and in Cortland schools. SUNY Cortland EMS receives more than 200 emergency calls during the school year, and its crew members provide care until a TLC ambulance arrives.

• 9-1-1 Dispatch Award: SUNY Police Officer C. Austen
On Aug. 29, Officer Austen answered a Cortland City Police Department dispatch about a man who was involved in a fight and was severely cut and bleeding. Austen responded to the scene, applied pressure to slow the bleeding and rode in the ambulance to maintain pressure on the wounds, enabling the man to survive.