American Red Cross to honor local heroes

The American Red Cross Serving King & Kitsap Counties announced who will be honored March 12 for their heroic acts in the past year.

Twelve award categories will be represented by 20 individuals and organizations at the 10th annual American Red Cross Real Heroes Breakfast.

The 2009 Real Heroes Breakfast is 7-9 a.m. Thursday, March 12 at the Kitsap Conference Center at Bremerton Harborside. Reservations are required and available by calling (360) 377-3761, ext. 10203. A $100 donation is suggested. All proceeds will support Red Cross services in Kitsap and North Mason counties.

Law Enforcement Hero

Bremerton Police Officer Jason Glasgow

Bremerton Police Officer Jason Glasgow was called to a possible “jumper on the Warren Avenue Bridge.” 

A distraught individual was standing on a box on the side of the bridge with a rope around his neck tied to what looked to be a sandbag or block.

Suddenly, the man dropped the weight and started to lunge over the side. Glasgow jumped into action and grabbed a hold of the man tightly. The officer held tight, at times feeling his feet lift off the ground. Luckily, at this point two passing motorists stopped and held onto the officer. Quickly other officers arrived and together they were able to drag the man back over the railing to safety.

Medical Hero

Christina Lawhead and South Kitsap Fire & Rescue, David Hougan, Nathan Post, Miche Eslava and Daryl Bodlorick

Christina Lawhead’s shift as an oncology nursing supervisor at Harrison Medical Center came to a close without incident and she left work on time. She arrived home at about 1:30 a.m. and was startled by noises coming from her bedroom. Her husband Russell was coughing violently. She checked on him and he assured her that he was alright.

Only moments passed and Russell was standing before her. He had severe chest pain.

She got her stethoscope and listened to his heart. Then Russell began to feel sick and collapsed to one knee. His lips were blue and his breathing was labored. She tilted his head back opening the airway and realized he had quit breathing. She quickly gave two breaths followed by chest compressions. She completed about three rounds of CPR before South Kitsap Fire Engine 31 arrived.

Military Hero

Roberto Colon Jr. and Paul R. Wilson

Security Watch Commander Roberto Colon Jr. and Seaman Paul Wilson were on duty and starting external rounds of Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB). They noticed several boats in the waters off Erlands Point.

As they neared their vehicle, they saw a canoe tip over more than 200 yards off shore. An elderly couple was struggling in the water. Wilson removed his gun belt, radio, shoes and shirt and hit the water.

He placed the lifejacket the man and began pulling the canoe and victim to shore. In the meantime, Colon, after radioing the NHB dispatcher to contact Bremerton Police Department and Fire Department and notify the command, took to the water to bring the wife ashore.

Family Preparedness

The Neal Family: Gay, Bob, Charles and Mary Beth

The Neal family had passed through a difficult time as Harriett Neal, the family matriarch, underwent chemotherapy and a lot of celebrations were put aside. She completed her chemotherapy sessions and the family decided to take a trip together to San Diego.

One evening Harriett went to a front bedroom to get ready for bed. Mary Beth, Harriett’s daughter, passed by the bedroom door and noticed her mom was lying in an odd position on the bed. Her mom wasn’t breathing. Mary Beth called for her dad Charles who, along with her brother Bob, came running.

Charles started chest compressions. Bob tilted her head to open her airway. Gay ran to the hallway to make certain the responders found the room quickly. 

Harriett gasped for breath and was responsive when the emergency technicians arrived.


Axel Strakeljahn

“Assistance eighty-eight in the Customer Service area,” rang out over the public address system at the Fred Meyer store in Port Orchard.

Store Director Axel Strakeljahn knew that code meant there was an accident or incident at the front of the store and all trained personnel should respond.

Strakeljahn rounded the corner of the customer service desk and saw a growing crowd of onlookers gathered around a man who had fallen to the floor. The man’s lips were blue. He then started giving chest compressions. Another employee appeared on site with a breathing barrier and took over the rescue breaths while Strakeljahn continued CPR compressions until a medic arrived and relieved Strakeljahn from the compressions.

An underlying heart condition took the victim’s life a few months later, but his family was very thankful for the extra time that they were given and the quick actions of Axel Strakeljahn and his fellow Fred Meyer employees.

Wilderness Rescue

Jeffrey Robinson

Nathan Patterson received the call at about 7 p.m. His 17-year-old son, Jacob, had fallen down the side of a mountain. He was wedged at the bottom of an icy 100-foot crevasse.

Jacob Patterson and Jeff Robinson prepared well for their weekend trip and climb of Mount Deception in the Olympic National Forest. This was their “trip of the summer.”

It was on that descent that Jacob suddenly lost his footing on the ice and tumbled down about 500 feet. When Robinson finally reached him, he was badly injured, bleeding, but breathing.

Robinson went for help and encountered a group of nine experienced Boeing mountaineers. He gave them Jacob’s location and continued on and contacted a ranger at the park’s Royal Basin Ranger Station.

Jacob spent a total of about 10 hours on the mountain awaiting rescue. The doctors at Harborview Medical Center agreed had it not been for Robinson's actions, Jacob would not have made it through that night on that mountain.

Good Neighbor

Rodney Jewell

Rodney Jewell’s neighbor was a senior citizen on oxygen who used a wheelchair to get around.

One July afternoon, Rodney Jewell was a really good neighbor. He was busy weeding the garden of the duplex where he lived. As he walked around the front of the house he saw smoke coming from the window of his neighbor’s unit. He burst open the front door and was instantly hit with a barrel of thick black smoke. Staying low to the ground, he found the woman in her chair with an oxygen tube on fire swirling around in circles “like a wild snake” through the room, catching things on fire as it snapped around. Jewell tried to move the wheelchair and found the oxygen tubing caught in the wheel, he quickly uncoiled the tubes around the wheel and pushed the women out of the house onto the driveway.

Water Rescue

Anderson Compalas and Carmen Bracy

It was a birthday for avid fisherman and crabber Anderson Compalas. He chose to spend his special day fishing with his five children at the marina.

A boat eased its way toward the dock to tie up and offload passengers, including Carmen Bracy, a retired nurse.

A third family also had an outing on the waterfront and were loading things up when suddenly the 32-year-old father realized his 2-year-old daughter was nowhere in sight.

It was Compalas’ 7-year old son, Benjamin, who spotted the girl’s lifeless body floating beneath one of the piers.

Compalas was able to reach down between the floating piers and pull her up through a narrow gap. She was cold, not breathing and her color was ashen. Compalas began CPR compressions. Bracy jumped from the boat and identified herself as a nurse and adjusted the girl’s head to open her airway and began rescue breaths on the small girl as Compalas continued compressions. After what seemed like many cycles of CPR, they heard a gurgling sound from the lifeless little body. Suddenly water gushed from her mouth and next came a little cry, at which point the crowd cheered.

Adult Good Samaritan

Matthew Taran

An elementary school lunchroom full of kids and distractions. A quick bite of a "corn dog popper," an inadvertent bump to the back of his head, one gulp and Connor Gillen-Redfield couldn’t catch his breath. He was choking.

With the help of a buddy, Connor sought out teacher Matthew Taran.

Luckily for Connor, Taran was current with his annual CPR refresher training. He reached around Connor from the back, buried his fists in Connor’s stomach and started applying upward abdominal thrusts.

The other students looked on in silence.

After the third thrust, nothing was giving. Taran asked that someone call 911. He was worried. He kept at it with a fourth, fifth and sixth thrust. Finally, applying a seventh abdominal thrust, the corn dog dislodged.

First Aid Response

Dr. Marc Suffis

Dr. Marc Suffis was on his driving through Poulsbo when he spotted two people crossing the street.

“ ... as I watch them, waiting for the other cars to go by me, the thought comes to my mind, ‘Oh my God, they’re not going to make it.'” One of them didn’t.

He instantly got out of his car and was the first one to reach the young man who appeared to be in his teens. Training kicked in at this point, having been an emergency room physician for many years. He checked for breathing. There were gurgling sounds but no sustained breathing. He listened and heard him start breathing. He took off his sport jacket and placed it over the young man.

He continued to check his airway, breathing and circulation until medics arrived. The boy was stabilized and transported to Harborview.

Emergency Response

Michael Brady

Chico Towing driver Mike Brady was dispatched to the early morning scene of a multiple vehicle accident near Belfair on Highway 3. The accident blocked both northbound and southbound lanes. A small truck had crossed the center lane causing a chain reaction involving four autos and a semi-trailer.

A large semi was on its side, its load of building materials strewn over the highway. As Brady arrived, South Kitsap Fire and Rescue responders had just discovered a vehicle beneath the semi mangled beyond recognition.

Brady heard the fire responders speaking to someone and realized that he was being called upon to save a life not free a body entrapped in wreckage.

He crawled over the cab of the truck and atop the wreckage and then between the wrecked vehicles to secure his cables. Brady secured the load and watched as the victim was carefully removed from what was left of his vehicle.

Commitment to Community

Harrison Medical Center

Harrison Medical Center is a not-for-profit community hospital whose origins date to the flu epidemic of 1918. Today, it is the region’s busiest medical center, with three campuses serving four counties on the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas.

Harrison’s cardiac surgery program has been ranked No. 1 in Washington by HealthGrades. This measure places it amongst the top 10 percent in the nation for cardiac surgery. Its cardiovascular program also is ranked No. 1 among all hospitals in Western Washington.

The 2009 American Red Cross Real Heroes Commitment to Community Award is presented to Harrison Medical Center in recognition of its outstanding contribution to the community in helping link the Cardiac Chain of Survival.

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