By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio
March 11, 2019- During the evening of March 7, the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio and the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter celebrated heroic acts and bravery accomplished by local heroes.
The 23rd annual Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter Act of Courage event, which was held at the Hilton Akron-Fairlawn, celebrated selflessness and the quick action of eight individuals, who sprang into action to assist others in need.
Marea Ludwig of Ravenna, one of the eight honorees, said her family and coworkers were excited for her. “I feel like it’s a great big balloon of thank you,” she said prior to the start of the ceremony.
Marea was honored for performing CPR during her first day at Litehouse Pools & Spas in Ravenna, when one of her co-workers collapsed in the backroom.
Along with the Acts of Courage Award, Marea, who received her CPR training with the Red Cross, also received the Certificate of Merit from the Red Cross’ national headquarters in Washington, D.C. The Certificate of Merit is the highest award given by the Red Cross for saving a life.
Along with Marea, here are the stories of the other brave award winners.
Eric Peterson of Atwater, during his morning commute to work, noticed his neighbor’s home was on fire. He stopped his car, ran to the house and began to bang on the windows and doors to alert anyone who was still inside.
Suddenly, a noise grabbed Eric’s attention and he watched as the attached garage door opened. A young girl and a dog, who Eric had seen playing in the yard many times during his daily commute, stumbled out of the home. As another neighbor called emergency services, Eric ran into the home. As smoke alarms blared, his shouting alerted the remaining family members to the danger. A mother and two children fled the smoke-filled home after hearing Eric’s warning. Assured that no one else remained in the home, Eric escaped through a window.
Outside, a mother and her three children huddled together with other neighbors, watching the smoke billow from the home.
Unruffled, Eric called his wife to tell her what was happening down the street, and continued his commute to work.
Detective Susan Hackbart and Tonya Gardella
Last August, Detective Susan Hackbart of Akron was called to work at the Goodyear Public Library, where Tonya Gardella of Brunswick is the branch manager.
A few minutes into the shift, Detective Hackbart was alerted to a patron who was in distress. As she was examining the situation, the patron slipped into unconsciousness.
Tonya took control of the scene and she called for one of her employees to get the branch’s AED and for another to call 911.
Detective Hackbart began CPR, pausing only to place the sticky pads from the AED on the patron. They started the AED and followed its directions until EMS arrived. Thankfully, the individual was fully revived at the hospital.
Officer Timothy Hunt
Officer Timothy Hunt of Barberton, a member of the Akron Police Department, was dispatched during a night shift in July to attend to an unresponsive 2-year-old. Police and EMS arrived at the same time to find the child not breathing and without a pulse.
While EMS rushed to start an IV and other life saving measures, Office Hunt jumped in the ambulance and performed CPR while the medics continued to work on the child during the 20-minute ride to the hospital.
The child survived due to the heroic efforts of EMS and the resolute hands of Officer Hunt.
Paul Miroewski of Northfield was driving home on I-271 from his maintenance job in Lyndhurst when he witnessed a semi-tractor trailer smash into another vehicle, flipping the vehicle onto the passenger side. As Paul pulled his vehicle to the side of the road, he could see flames already licking the side of the road and the undercarriage of the truck.
He paused to check on the semi-driver, and learning that he was fine, continued to the overturned vehicle. Another driver, an off-duty fireman, stopped and, together, he and Paul tore off the windshield and helped pull the victim from his truck. Nearly two minutes later, both the car and semi exploded.
Brandon Waterson of Kent was on summer break from school and had been playing at a friend’s house across the street when he returned home for a quick lunch.
Before entering his home, Brandon noticed that his next-door-neighbor’s house had smoke billowing out of it.
Brandon called his mother to alert her and she told him to call 9-1-1. He ran to another neighbor’s house who helped the shy boy contact emergency services.
The owner of the home had left a candle burning while she was at work. By alerting an adult, and, in turn, the authorities, Brandon helped save the neighbor’s dog and home.
Tave Constantine of Mogadore heard his mother, a thyroid cancer survivor who sometimes has difficulty eating due to her many surgeries, make distressed noises. He calmly asked her if she was okay. When she was not able to answer him, he ran to her and began administering abdominal thrusts and back blows.
His mother could feel herself passing out, but Tave’s continued effort and care helped dislodge the food and she was finally able to breath.
Like Marea Ludwig, Samantha Balaj also received the Certificate of Merit from the Red Cross.
During a theater class at Slippery Rock University, a student collapsed and became unconscious. Originally, Samantha thought her classmate was having a seizure, however, as she was assessing the scene, she noticed the student did not have pulse. At that moment, Samantha’s Red Cross training kicked in and she began CPR on the student until emergency services arrived.
Samantha also helped lead a demonstration of hands-only CPR for those in attendance.
In addition to recognizing the heroism of area residents at the event, the Red Cross of Summit, Portage and Medina Counties presented the H. Peter Burg Community Leader Award to Virginia Addicott, for her leadership as the president and CEO of FedEx Custom Critical® and in the community.
While CEO of FirstEnergy, and chair of the local Red Cross Board of Directors, H. Peter Burg established a legacy of dedicated service to the Greater Akron community. Following his death in 2004, the Red Cross established an award in Pete’s name to honor his memory and inspire others. By bestowing the award on Virginia, the Red Cross recognizes her lifetime of community service.
You too can be a local hero. If you are interested in taking a Red Cross training, such as CPR, life guarding and babysitting, please visit redcross.org/take-a-class to see upcoming classes and to register.
You can also be a hero to someone in need by donating life saving blood. Visit RedCrossBlood.org to find a blood drive near you and to schedule an appointment to give now.
If you would like to have the Red Cross provide a FREE hands-only CPR training for your business or organization, please fill out our event registration form.
To view more photos from the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter Acts of Courage event, visit the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio’s Flickr page.