Local pharmacist recognized with national Red Cross Lifesaving Award

By Christy Peters, American Red Cross

Mike Parks, CEO of the Northern Ohio Region of the American Red Cross, Janet Coleman, and Pharmacist Matt Kirby – Photo credit: Christy Peters/American Red Cross

Anyone who has spent any time in Northeast Ohio, driving around listening to the radio could probably finish this sentence in a flash – “Discount Drug Mart saves you the runaround…” If it didn’t immediately pop into your head, it’s “you’ll find everything you need.” The jingle was probably talking about a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread. But, for one North Olmsted woman, being at Discount Drug Mart recently saved her more than the runaround – it saved her life.

Matt Kirby, a pharmacist at the North Olmsted Discount Drug Mart, was going through a normal day when a fellow employee ran to the pharmacy and alerted him that someone had collapsed near the deli. Matt sprang into action and found a woman lying on the floor. She was not breathing and had no pulse. Using lifesaving skills he learned in a Red Cross class, Matt began CPR. On his 22nd chest compression, the customer was revived. She was transported to a hospital and recovered.

See coverage from Fox 8 here.

In an interview with Cleveland.com, Matt said, “I think the more amazing part of the story was that a week later, they (the customer and her husband) celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and she was around for that. That was my reward – her being able to make it to that. Also, seeing her walk back into the store, that made it all worth it.”

Janet and Kevin Coleman with Pharmacist Matt Kirby and CEO of the Northern Ohio Region of the American Red Cross Mike Parks

Because of his heroic actions, Matt was awarded the American Red Cross Lifesaving Award for Professional Responders, one of the highest honors given by the organization. The award honors someone who embodies the spirit of the Red Cross by using action to help alleviate human suffering in the face of an emergency.

See coverage from News 5 here.

Like Matt Kirby, you never know when you may be called upon to help save a life. Make sure you’re prepared by signing up for training classes with the Red Cross. The organization offers a variety of courses to help the community be prepared when an emergency arises.

Do you know a hero? The Red Cross wants to recognize ordinary people who perform extraordinary acts of courage. If you know a hero who has used their Red Cross skills to help save a life, please share their story with us!

Edited by Glenda Bogar/American Red Cross volunteer

Courage in the face of adversity

By Ryan Lang, Red Cross Volunteer

One of the definitions of courage you’ll find in the Oxford Dictionary is “strength in the face of pain or grief.”

Most people can say they’ve exhibited courage at least a few times in their life. Not as many can say that every day for the past year, just simply facing the day has been an act of courage.

Lynn Decker, Wadsworth School District Head Nurse

If you asked Lynn Decker about it, she’d probably tell you that was an overstatement. But after hearing her story about her fight against breast cancer and her unwavering commitment to the students and staff of the Wadsworth City School District, there was no question that Lynn embodied the true meaning of courage.

Lynn is the District Nurse for Wadsworth City Schools. She’s been a nurse for a long time, working in the ICU at Summa Akron City Hospital for more than a decade. In 2014, Lynn joined the district and the world of school nursing. “I thought it was just Band-Aids and ice packs; no big deal,” she said of the job, but as she quickly found, it was a lot more than that. It was much more critical care than she’d first anticipated, which Lynn says was a good thing, as that’s been her “bread and butter” throughout her career.

As the head of eight school nurses, Lynn says she quickly realized that there were several “areas of improvement” that needed to be addressed, one of those being CPR training. “I decided to get my certificate over at the Red Cross to become a certified instructor so I could help employees here, and also train coaches and administrators in CPR.”

June 22, 2018. Washington, DC. CPR stock photos by Roy Cox for the American Red Cross.

Throughout her years in the Wadsworth School District, Lynn trained dozens of her fellow employees in CPR, but only recently started training 8th grade students as well. “We realized how important it is for kids of a young age to learn CPR, and actually found that they are much easier to teach.” And they’re interested in learning, Lynn says: “They love it! They get super excited when we’re coming in with the mannequins and the mock AED machines and more.”  

And then, a setback.

It was about a year ago that Lynn was diagnosed with breast cancer, and in the middle of a pandemic, no less. “When the entire world is shutting down and you’re worried about hospital care and being able to get your surgery and your chemo, but still being part of running the district.” In spite of the diagnosis and facing a double mastectomy, Lynn still was concerned about her students and her staff in Wadsworth. “People still have to be taken care of and we need to be sure that our students and our faculty are safe.”

After finishing her chemo treatments and her surgery in May, Lynn was visiting her parents’ home for a small get together at their pool in the backyard a little more than a month later, in July last year. A neighbor had fallen into the pool and gone under the water. Without regard for herself and how she was feeling after her treatments, Lynn deployed her Red Cross training and did everything she could to help that family friend.

Unfortunately, there was no helping that friend. He eventually passed away. It was an experience Lynn says she’ll never forget and a real world reminder of how important her training is and how important it is that she pass along what she learned through the Red Cross.

Today, Lynn’s treatments continue. And Lynn continues to provide an invaluable, potentially life-saving skill set to her colleagues and her students alike. Additionally, she’s become an advocate for early and regular health screenings and now helps others in similar situations as hers face their diagnoses head on, with strength and with courage.

Safety forces from Richmond Heights receive Red Cross Lifesaving Award

A police officer who administered first aid for the victim of a gunshot and five members of the Richmond Heights Fire Department have been honored with the American Red Cross Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action.

Richmond Heights Fire Lieutenant John Boos, upper left, firefighters Thomas Fanara, Michael Kocmit, Kevin Moore and Richard Rousch, upper right, Patroman Sean Lawlor, lower right, and Red Cross Regional COO Jorge Martinez, lower left.

On July 24th, they helped save the life of a young man who had accidentally shot himself in the leg.  Patrolman Sean Lawlor arrived on scene and helped apply tourniquets and pressure to the wound.

Shortly thereafter, arriving on the scene were fire lieutenant John Boos and firefighters Thomas Fanara, Michael Kocmit, Kevin Moore and Richard Rousch, all of whom provided life-saving treatment and emergency ambulance transportation to the hospital.

The Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action is awarded to individuals who step up in an emergency situation and help save or sustain a life. Such action exemplifies the mission of the Red Cross – to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.

Lieutenant Boos credited the others for their actions.

“It was a great job by the members on the shift that day to get in there and effectively help with what Patrolman Lawler initiated and continue the same care end expedite the transport to the emergency room in a timely fashion.”

The firefighters credited officer Lawler with doing a great job as the first on the scene, saying he “really stole the show.”

The patrolman called it a team effort, crediting other officers on the scene as well.

Red Cross Regional COO Jorge Martinez, who conducted the virtual ceremony, commended the winners for their willingness to help others in distress.

“Heroes are all around us,” Martinez said. “But they are not common—because to act quickly and decisively during a crisis takes a level of courage reserved only for a chosen few.”

You can watch a recording of the ceremony here.

Police Sergeant honored for saving baby’s life

Awarded Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action

Sergeant Greg Patterson of the Richmond Heights police department was the first to respond, after a disturbing call to 9-1-1 about a baby who had stopped breathing.

“When I received the call, my first thought was to get there as quickly as possible,” said Sergeant Patterson. “When I arrived, the mother ran out the front door and handed the baby to me. When I saw that his face was blue and he wasn’t breathing, my training kicked in.”

He then described the actions he took to bring the baby back.

“I sat down on a chair on the front porch and began chest compressions,” he said. “I then turned the baby over and gave him a few back blows.” That’s when the infant began to respond, as he coughed up some mucous that Sergeant Patterson wiped away.

“I could see that he was starting to breathe again. When I saw the color coming back into his face, I was beyond relieved.”

Richmond Heights Police Sergeant Greg Patterson congratulated by Mike Parks, Regional CEO, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

Sergeant Patterson has been awarded a Red Cross Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action, which is given to those who step up in an emergency situation and help save or sustain a life. “Sergeant Patterson’s actions exemplify the mission of the American Red Cross to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO of the Red Cross of Northern Ohio. “He is to be commended for his willingness to help others in distress.”

Sgt. Greg Patterson, Mike Parks, and Kim Riley, Board Chair, Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

“When I arrived, the mother handed the baby to me. When I saw that his face was blue and he wasn’t breathing, my training kicked in.”

Sergeant Greg Patterson

Sergeant Patterson was honored during the June, 2021 meeting of the board of directors of the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio. He was accompanied by his wife and daughter, along with Chief Thomas Wetzel, Lieutenant Denise DeBiase, and Records Clerk Latrice Evans, who submitted the lifesaving award nomination.

The Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action is one of three awards bestowed by the Red Cross for lifesaving actions. The Certificate of Merit is the highest award given by the Red Cross to an individual or team of individuals who saves or sustains a life by using skills and knowledge learned in an American Red Cross Training Services course.

Records Clerk Latrice Evans, Sgt. Greg Patterson, Lt. Denise DeBiase, and Chief Thomas Wetzel, Richmond Heights Police Department

The Lifesaving Award for Professional Responders is given to an individual, or team of individuals, who saves or sustains a life, outside of a medical setting, as part of their employment or while on duty and had an obligation to respond. 

If you know someone who may qualify for a Red Cross Lifesaving Award, you can nominate that individual or group by using this online form. And you can visit LifesavingAwards.org to learn more.

Sergeant Patterson doesn’t think he acted any differently than any of his fellow officers would have acted when responding to that call.

“I don’t consider myself a hero,” Sergeant Patterson said. “I just happened to be the one to get there first. I am very grateful that I was able to be there to help.”

National Volunteer Week spotlight: Carol Schemmer is dedicated to helping others

By: Sam Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

Carol Schemmer of Ottawa County is no stranger to the amazing work that the Red Cross does here at home and abroad.

“When I was in the military, I saw the work of the Red Cross firsthand — when military members needed support to get back home in an emergency or to communicate with loved ones,” said Carol.

Carol has spent her life helping others. She has held many distinguished roles in her life, including spending 22 years serving as a nurse in the United States Navy, leading an emergency room in Connecticut and teaching at Lorain County Community College, just to name a few.

Currently, she spends her time as a volunteer with the State of Ohio Medical Reserve Core (MRC) administering COVID-19 vaccines and as a leader for Club Red, a local organization that supports the Northern Ohio Region of the Red Cross through fundraising and advocacy efforts.

“Carol is an idea person and an action person. She’s always willing to step up and offer advice or help coordinate boots on the ground. She is highly organized, extremely reliable and caring,” said Rachel Hepner-Zawodny, executive director of the Red Cross of Northwest Ohio.

As part of Club Red, Carol has led the group to fundraise for the Red Cross but also expanded its effort to teach CPR to communities. She believes that CPR is so easy to learn, yet can be so vital to saving a person’s life during an emergency.

Carol admires the Red Cross volunteers who coordinate and deploy to disasters to offer relief to those affected. When disaster strikes, volunteers are there to provide basic necessities to communities impacted by a flood, storm or other natural disaster—supplying food, water, medical care and more. These efforts are possible thanks to donations and the support of volunteers—who make up over 90% of the Red Cross workforce.

We cannot do the work that we do abroad and at home without the support of people like Carol. Her dedication to supporting others in need throughout her life as a nurse and as a volunteer has helped countless people. We are truly honored to call her a supporter.

If you aren’t a volunteer but are interested in how you could support the Northern Ohio Red Cross, there are many opportunities available for a variety of skill sets. You can visit our website or click here to learn more.

Edited by: Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Student will live to see graduation because of duo’s quick action

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

July 24, 2020- Imagine seeing a high school student fall to the ground while watching a football team practice. Would your first inclination be to assume he was horsing around? Fortunately, Shamara Golden, a student at Youngstown State University, was watching and had a sense there was more to it than that.

Shamara and athletic trainer Alex McCaskey rushed to his aid. Finding that he was still breathing and still had a pulse, but was unresponsive and unconscious, Alex stayed by his side and called 911. Shamara ran for the AED machine and medical kit.

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Shamara Golden with her Red Cross Certificate of Merit

While she was gone, the student stopped breathing. Alex immediately began CPR. As she returned, Alex cut open his shirt as Shamara attached the AED pads for assessment. Following the instructions on the AED, they delivered a shock, which caused him to start breathing again.

Once the victim began to breathe again, Alex stabilized the victim’s spine while Shamara rolled the victim into recovery position. While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, the victim stopped breathing again and the AED advised to continue CPR. Alex began to again administer five rounds of CPR until the ambulance arrived.

“I received a call from the boy’s mother when he was taken off the ventilator in the hospital,” recalled Alex. “That was an amazing feeling, getting that call. After that, a number of the Warren G. Harding High School administration members came down to congratulate Shamara and me at future football games.”

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Virtual award presentation featuring Greater Akron and the Mahoning Valley Chapter Executive Director Rachel Telegdy, Northern Ohio Region CEO Mike Parks, Dr. Morgan Bagley, Shamara Golden and Alex McCaskey

“The day after it happened,” explained Shamara, “I didn’t mention it to my class, because I still hadn’t heard how the boy was doing. After we heard that he was fine, my classmates found out and there were cheers all around.”

Alex and Shamara were nominated for American Red Cross lifesaving awards by Dr. Morgan Bagley, associate professor at Youngstown State University where Shamara was studying to become an athletic trainer.

Alex received the Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action for those who step up in an emergency to save or sustain a life. Shamara received the Certificate of Merit, the highest award given by the Red Cross to a person who saves a life using the skills and knowledge learned in an American Red Cross Training Services course.

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Alex McCaskey

“I’m so proud of both of them,” said Dr. Bagley. “Shamara told me, ‘It’s just like you said, we have to constantly practice to be prepared for anything and everything.’”

Without a doubt, the skills learned in the American Red Cross CPR and AED Training class helped to save the life of this student.

You, too, can sign up and receive training in CPR, AED and First Aid with the Red Cross. Online classes are available. Click here to get started.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Red Cross CPR training helps individuals save co-worker in Austintown

By Eilene Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

July 10, 2020- If a loved one or colleague – or even a stranger – suddenly collapsed in front of you, what would you do?

Fortunately for 61-year-old Mark Eitner, his coworkers at Nordson Xaloy Inc., in Austintown, Ohio, knew exactly what to do. They saved his life.

“Thank you doesn’t seem like enough to say,” Mark said, “but on behalf of my wife and my children, thank you!”

CPR Stock Photography 2018

Mark was on hand last week for an American Red Cross ceremony to honor the men who saved his life: Jim Shepard and Richard Santucci.

When Mark went down next to a machine he was working on, Jim immediately recognized the situation was serious and alerted others on the maintenance team to call 9-1-1. Richard – a safety team member who just weeks earlier had taken a refresher for his Red Cross first aid, CPR and AED course – stepped in to take action.

Based on his training, Richard could tell Mark needed CPR, to keep blood flowing, taking oxygen to his brain. He also recognized Mark’s heart needed stimulation from an AED. Richard was able to administer both.

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Virtual award presentation for the Nordson Xaloy Inc. employees

Studies show CPR can double a person’s chance of surviving a heart attack, but only about a third of those who suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital receive bystander CPR, according to the American Heart Association. Mark got a fighting chance at survival, thanks to Richard and Jim.

Rachel Telegdy, executive director of the American Red Cross of Greater Akron and the Mahoning Valley, presented Jim with a Certificate for Extraordinary Personal Action.  This certificate recognizes people who step up in an emergency to help save or sustain a life, exemplifying the mission of the Red Cross to prevent and alleviate human suffering in emergencies.

For his part, Richard received the Red Cross Certificate of Merit, the organization’s highest award, given to people who save or sustain a life using skills and knowledge learned in Red Cross training. The certificate is signed by the president of the United States, who is the honorary chair of the American Red Cross, and the chairman of the Red Cross.

“It’s my honor (to receive the award),” Richard said. “Without your support and training, I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did.”

CPR Stock Photography 2018

Richard has gone on to get certified to teach Red Cross first aid, CPR and AED, paying it forward to enable others to respond in an emergency. He noted that there was an overwhelming response from the Nordson workforce to get Red Cross training in the wake of Mark’s emergency.

“Heroes are all around us. But they’re not common.  To act quickly and decisively during a crisis takes a level of courage reserved only for a few,” Rachel said.

“It’s our hope your heroic actions inspire others to get trained in skills that save lives.”

To find a Red Cross first aid, CPR and AED course – and be ready to save a life – go to redcross.org/take-a-class.

Click here to view the virtual awared presentation.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Training keeps swimmers safe: Local lifeguards honored for their skills that saved child

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

June 17, 2020- Water Works Aquatic Center in Cuyahoga Falls reopened last week, and if past performance is any indicator of future results, swimmers there will be safe, thanks to the training received by lifeguards at the facility.

Six lifeguards who responded when a child failed to surface from the pool there last summer have been given the American Red Cross Lifesaver Award for Professional Responders. The incident, which led to their recognition, took place July 20, 2019. The six lifeguards, Cameron Bennett, Nick Little, Michael Petrecca, Vincent Petrecca, Dakota Shroyer and Alexandra Staubs, each played a role in the rescue.

Centennial Campaign 2015

The child suffered a heat-related event, sank below the surface of the water, vomited and went passive. The child was unconscious when pulled from the water, but was breathing and had a pulse. He was conscious but confused when EMS arrived. The child was admitted to the hospital for treatment and released the following day.

All six lifeguards received Red Cross lifeguard training, as well as First Aid/CPR/AED.

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Virtual presentation of the Lifesaver Award for Cameron, Nick, Michael, Vincent, Dakota and Alexandra

Kathleen Burt, aquatics manager at the City of Cuyahoga Falls nominated the lifeguards for the award. “I think the world of every single member of our team,” Burt said. “We truly are a family and a team, and I’m thankful for the effort they put forward.”

“You always hope you don’t have to use what you learned,” said senior guard Michael Petrecca. In describing the rescue, he said, “It was instinct. The facility has great leadership, and the training we have in place is pretty rigorous.”

Lifeguarding Manual 2012

The Lifesaving Award for Professional Responders is bestowed upon Red Cross-trained individuals who have an obligation to respond to an emergency, including police, firefighters, EMS, EMT, healthcare professionals and lifeguards. Since 2018, nearly 800 individuals have been honored worldwide for helping to save almost 350 lives.

Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Walters said, “You make us extremely proud. Thank you very much for being heroes.”

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Red Cross continues to teach lifesaving skills

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

June 5, 2020- The first week of June is National CPR and AED Awareness Week, which calls attention to the critical importance of these lifesaving skills and how many can be saved if more Americans learn CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED). While more than 1,600 people suffer cardiac arrest each day in the nation, immediate bystander CPR can double or triple the chance of survival.

CPR Classroom Stock Video and Photography Shoot 2018

Cardiac arrests and other emergencies do not cease during a pandemic. While immediate aid for someone suffering sudden cardiac arrest is crucial at any time, increased calls for assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic may increase the need for a relative or bystander to provide effective assistance.

“Bystanders that activate emergency response, initiate chest compressions, and apply and follow the directions of an AED have the greatest impact for the survival of the victim of a cardiac arrest,” said Rosanne Radziewicz, a registered nurse and volunteer with American Red Cross Disaster Health Services.

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To help address this need, the Red Cross continues to provide CPR and AED training, whether online, in classrooms or a blend of the two.

A number of CPR and AED training and certification courses are available, many of which are tailored to the needs of workplace responders, professional rescuers, school staff, healthcare providers and the general public. Several courses are Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliant.

While online-only courses do not offer the opportunity to demonstrate skills to a certified instructor—and may not meet certain certification requirements—they are still an excellent choice for many. The expert-designed courses are interactive, engaging and can help provide the skills and confidence to save a life in an emergency.

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In addition, the Red Cross is offering special pricing on some online-only courses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For those who need in-person training and certification, essential Red Cross CPR, AED and first aid programs are available. These courses can be in an instructor-led classroom setting or a blend of online training with an in-class skills session. All in-person sessions use social-distancing approaches and follow the guidance of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and state and local public health officials.

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For more information on online, in-person and blended classes or to register, visit redcross.org/takeaclass.

The Red Cross also offers a free First Aid app and Red Cross Skills for Amazon Alexa.

Edited Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Nursing professor and students take lifesaving skills beyond the classroom

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

March 4, 2020- Let’s say you’re enjoying a quiet evening at home with family or friends and one of you suffers a cardiac emergency. Dr. Mariann Harding wants to increase the odds that someone there can give the victim—possibly you—a fighting chance to live.

CPR Stock Photography 2018

Dr. Harding is a professor of nursing technology at the Kent State University (KSU) Tuscarawas campus. So all her students are learning the critical skills to handle such an emergency. Now she’s discovered a way to expand that number of responders many times over.

This year, through the American Red Cross, 18 members of her nursing honor society are presenting Hands-Only CPR. They are teaching non-medical members of their communities how to maintain vital circulation in a stricken person until trained responders arrive.

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“Our goal is 200 people touched with this training this year,” said the professor, who likes to be called Mariann. “It’s going very smoothly. I think we’re going to make it.”

Mariann became acquainted with the Red Cross two and a half years ago by way of a local leadership workshop. She decided she could bring something worthwhile to the organization with her medical and educator background.

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She joined the board of her local Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter and learned about the many preparedness and prevention programs of the Red Cross, including Hands-Only CPR. She realized her students would be ideal volunteer teachers to spread the word about this lifesaving technique.

Hands-Only CPR done by a bystander is recognized as being as effective as CPR with rescue breaths for the first crucial minutes after a cardiac event. “It’s better to use a stopgap that’s 90 percent effective than to do nothing,” Mariann said of the hands-only technique.

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KSU provided a grant to buy compression training “torsos” for her project. Last year she and 16 honor nursing students taught nearly 230 people—from teenagers to elderly churchgoers. She’s convinced, “Everybody can do something.”

The project has given her nursing students a shot of confidence in their own abilities to build healthier communities, and it’s introduced them to other Red Cross programs. “One of my students signed up to help with the smoke alarm installations and another one is interested in becoming a presenter for the safe sitter program.”

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As for Mariann, “I’m so enjoying my involvement with the Red Cross. I look forward to doing more.”

To learn about the many Red Cross programs that empower Americans to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies, or to become a volunteer, visit redcross.org or contact your local Red Cross chapter.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer