Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Local Heroes Honored at Hershey Event

The American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Chapter honored local individuals for their heroic and selfless acts during the Spirit of the Hero Dinner held at the Hershey Lodge on Tuesday, March 29, 2016. The evening started with a silent auction and reception and concluded with a dinner and awards presentation.

Honorees at this year’s dinner included:

Mark and Karen Brezitski (category – Community Impact)
After suffering the tragic loss of their eight-year-old son, Owen, who was struck and killed by a distracted driver in 2011, Mark and Karen Brezitski turned their grief into action in an effort to create situations where similar tragedies do not occur. With the help of their daughters, Makenna and Kyla, Mark and Karen founded Owen's Foundation to promote pedestrian, driver, traffic, childhood, and community safety. Their message of Slow Down, Be Alert, and Save a Life permeates everything they do in the community. From the Solar LED Crosswalk signs at Bishop McDevitt High School to the scholarship program recognizing a Bishop McDevitt graduating senior about to attend college, from community and school presentations on the dangers of distracted driving to their work with the State’s Legislature on improving crosswalk safety, Mark and Karen have made a positive impact on countless individuals and community organizations. Owen’s memory is alive and well, and the Harrisburg community a much safer place, thanks to the dedication and commitment Mark and Karen have made to their neighbors through their work with Owen's Foundation.
Amanda Chambers (category – Animal Rescue)
When fire struck an apartment on the 300 block of Waterford Court in Lancaster this past July, a mom and her two children made it out safely, but their eight-year-old pet poodle/shih tzu mix, Rocky, was overcome by the smoke and would eventually be found on the bedroom floor by a firefighter during a room-to-room search. Not breathing, the family rushed Rocky to the Lancaster County SPCA, where Veterinary Technician Amanda Chambers immediately jumped into action in an attempt to save the ailing dog. Inserting an intubation tube, Amanda was able to pump fresh oxygen into Rocky’s lungs, enabling him to breathe and helping to keep him alive until he could be stabilized and transported to Pet Emergency Treatment Services (PETS), where veterinarians from PETS and VCA Bridgeport Animal Hospital worked together to save the beloved family dog. Amanda’s quick thinking ultimately saved the life of Rocky, and provided hope and comfort for a family who lost so much during the fire.

Amanda Sheets (category – Good Samaritan)
Amanda Sheets, a nursing student, was working in the meat department at Karns Quality Foods in Carlisle when an announcement came over the store’s PA system asking whether or not any doctors were currently in the building. Although not yet through nursing school, Amanda decided to see what she could do to help. As she approached the front of the store she was told that a customer had collapsed of an apparent heart attack out in the parking lot. With paramedics already en route, Amanda quickly made her way to the man and performed CPR until the first responders arrived on scene. We are often told how important it is to learn CPR, but seldom hear how ordinary individuals use that skill in times of crisis. Amanda’s training, coupled with her desire to make a difference and willingness to get involved, kept a man alive until paramedics arrived. Now, after having three stents implanted following his collapse, the gentleman has made a full recovery, thanks in large part to Amanda’s decisive action.

Ashley Haldeman (category – Good Samaritan)
With Nick’s mom watching the kids back in Mechanicsburg, Nick and his wife, Jennifer, had embarked on a South African vacation to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary. Upon arriving at their destination they received a call that turned what should have been a special occasion into a rush to get back to the States when they were told that their youngest son, Beckham, had suffered a seizure, stopped breathing, and was now on his way to the hospital. Thankfully, for the young child and his family, there was a group of people participating in a Bible study at the home. When it became obvious that Beckham was in distress, Ashley Haldeman, one of the group participants, immediately jumped into action, administering infant CPR until the paramedics arrived. There is no greater gift than the gift of life. Ashley’s knowledge of CPR saved the life of a small child, enabling him and his family to grow together for many, many years to come.

Patrolman Patrick Ribec (category – Law Enforcement)
In the early morning hours of January 1, Lower Swatara Township Patrolman Patrick Ribec was on duty when a call came in concerning a vehicular accident with entrapment and a fire on North Union Street. Arriving at the scene, Patrolman Ribec found a vehicle on its side with fire coming from the engine compartment. The driver was trapped in the front seat and a young girl in a child seat in the rear of the vehicle. Entering through a broken rear window, Patrolman Ribec used a knife to first cut the child from her seat. Handing her through the broken window to a fellow officer, he then made his way from the back of the car to the front seat, where he was able to free the male driver and remove him from the vehicle through the rear window. Patrolman Ribec, at the risk of personal injury, entered a dangerous situation and – ultimately – saved two trapped individuals from sustaining serious injuries that could have resulted in death.

Patrolman Scott Dojka (category – Law Enforcement)
Palmyra Borough Patrolman Scott Dojka was working his shift last April when he was dispatched to a home on West Main Street for a reported drug overdose. Upon arrival at the residence Patrolman Dojka observed two individuals performing CPR on a known heroin user, who was passed out on the floor. Realizing the emotional state of the two performing CPR was hindering their ability to assist the individual in need, and without any rescue breathing apparatus or protective barriers to use, Patrolman Dojka took control of the situation and began administering CPR until the victim began coughing and breathing on his own. Once the paramedics were on the scene, the heroin overdose drug NARCAN was administered. The overdose victim made a full recovery. By assisting a known drug addict, Patrolman Dojka risked exposure to infectious diseases in order to save the life of an individual on the brink of death. His ability to put the needs of others above his own safety makes him a true hero in our community.

Firefighter Nate Radic (category – Firefighter)
You never know when your skills or career experience will enable you to assist a person in need. Nowhere was that more evident than when the Friendship Fire Company of Bressler in Swatara Township received a call to rescue a man stuck 80 feet up in a tree this past October. What should have been a relatively easy task because of the various ladders and bucket trucks available at the fire department, became a bit more challenging when dispatch informed the firefighters that the stranded individual was actually stuck not just in a tree, but in a tree on Hoak Island in the middle of the Susquehanna River. Luckily for the fire department and the trapped individual, Firefighter Nate Radic owned a tree-trimming business. Once on the island, Firefighter Radic used his equipment from his business to climb the tree, removing limbs as he went. Reaching the trapped individual, he was able to free him from his situation and lower him to the ground, where he was transported back across the river to a waiting ambulance.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Nationwide Helps Red Cross Prepare Totes of Hope for Area Homeless Veterans

Employees from Nationwide ascended on the Red Cross office in Harrisburg to prepare 300 backpacks to be delivered to homeless veterans throughout Central Pennsylvania as part of the Red Cross Totes of Hope Program.

Totes of Hope provides backpacks filled with personal care items to homeless veterans throughout Central Pennsylvania. Since 2011, the Red Cross has worked with individuals and corporate sponsors to secure the items needed to fill backpacks that are then distributed to those in need through our partnership with the Lebanon VA.

Nationwide, a strong supporter of the program for the past several years, not only assisted with the backpack assembly, they also supplied 200 backpacks and over 6,000 personal care items. Their generous donation complemented that of Pennsy Supply, whose employees delivered close to a dozen crates filled with items for the program a few months ago.

Due to the support of companies such as Nationwide and Pennsy Supply, combined with strong community involvement from individuals throughout Central Pennsylvania, this year’s program was a huge success, resulting in more backpacks filled than we have ever been able to create in the past.

“It is heartwarming to see the outpouring of support for our homeless veterans,” commented Kathy Doran, Director of the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces Program in Central Pennsylvania. “The Red Cross is proud to be able to support our veterans who have given so much of themselves for our country, and we are thankful for the individual and corporate donations that make this project possible.”

Friday, March 4, 2016

Eight Awards Presented at Williamsport Breakfast

The American Red Cross North Central Pennsylvania Chapter recognized individuals in the community who have shown courage, dedication, and character through extraordinary acts of heroism and kindness during the Spirit of the Hero Breakfast held at the Genetti Hotel in Williamsport on Friday, March 4, 2016.

This year’s Spirit of the Hero award recipients include:

Mary Sue Gilliland (category - Good Samaritan)
Last April, Mary Sue Gilliland realized there was something wrong when a coworker starting coughing before going silent. Looking up from her desk, she saw her colleague looking at her while motioning with her hands around her neck – the universal sign of a person who is choking. Not hesitating for a moment, Sue ran to her friend. While standing behind her, she reached her arms around to perform abdominal thrusts, thus dislodging the object and enabling the woman to once again breathe freely. It was after the incident that she learned the colleague had been eating pretzels when one become lodged in her airway, preventing her from swallowing or calling out for help. Sue’s awareness of her surroundings and her knowledge of what to do when someone was choking worked together to save her coworker’s life.

Williamsport Bureau of Fire “D” Platoon (category - Firefighter)
As the Williamsport Bureau of Fire “D” Platoon raced to a two-unit structure fire on East Third Street this past June, they were notified by State Police that a person might be trapped in a second floor apartment. Arriving to a well-established fire with no internal access left to the second floor, the firefighters quickly entered the burning apartment unit from a ladder through a second floor window. Finding a woman unconscious on the floor next to her bed, they picked her up and hoisted her out the window and down the ladder to other members of their platoon, who immediately started CPR on the victim. Although the person ultimately succumbed to her injuries at the hospital, the heroic actions of the firefighters rushing into a fully engulfed building in an attempt to save a person with total disregard for their own safety makes them true heroes in the community.

Trooper Adam Kirk (category - Law Enforcement)
Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Adam Kirk was passing a two-unit apartment in Williamsport this past June on his way to work early in the morning when he realized the structure was on fire. With the Williamsport Bureau of Fire “D” Platoon en route, Trooper Kirk broke down the door to the first floor apartment, waking the residents and helping them to safety. With the first floor tenants outside, Trooper Kirk ran back into the building in an attempt to reach the woman on the second floor. As the ceiling started to collapse, he realized he couldn’t make it to the woman trapped upstairs and went outside to wait for the fire department. Upon their arrival, he assisted them in their efforts to rescue the person. While the woman on the second floor ultimately succumbed to her injuries, Trooper Kirk’s keen eye, quick thinking, and compassion toward others definitely made the difference in saving the lives of the couple he was able to reach and lead to safety.

Patience the Cat (category - Animal Rescue)
Patience is not the friendliest of cats, at least that is what people tend to say about her. But for her owner, Robin Dadzie, she is the best cat a person could ever have. This past fall, Patience jumped on the bed and began meowing like crazy. Not the typical meow she is known to make, but one that was somehow meant to show a sense of urgency – danger – for the Dadzie Family. Going to investigate, it was quickly realized that the house was on fire. Although the kitchen and bathroom were completely destroyed in the blaze, the Dadzie Family was able to make it out safely, thanks to a cat that was determined to let them know that something was wrong.

Katiera Nettles and Connie Baysore (category - Medical Professionals)
Gym Class at Montoursville Area High School started just like any other in February 2015. Before long, however, a faculty member noticed that a 15 year-old student wasn’t acting quite right. When he approached him to see what was wrong, the student collapsed into his arms. It was then that fellow faculty member Katiera Nettles ran to get the school nurse as 911 was being called. As Substitute school nurse Connie Baysore arrived, the student stopped breathing completely and was showing no sign of a pulse. Realizing that he had possibly suffered a heart attack, she immediately started performing lifesaving CPR until the Susquehanna Regional EMS crew arrived on scene with an AED that was used to revive him. Now fully recovered, the student, his family, and the community are grateful for the quick-thinking actions of all those who used their skills to keep the young man alive until the paramedics arrived.

Bill Nickell, Stephen Pribble, Kevin Smith, and Sufyan El-Geroushi (category - Community Impact)
Bill Nickell, an Assistant Football Coach at Lock Haven University, went to the front door to see who was banging on it. Opening it, he was met by a young boy, who told him that his neighbor’s house was on fire. After waking his roommates, fellow coaches Stephen Pribble, Kevin Smith, and Sufyan El-Geroushi, the group ran next door in an attempt to alert the sleeping residents. Their relief of seeing their effort pay off when two of the residents awoke and rushed outside was quickly turned into worry when they were told of an elderly man upstairs who needed help getting out. Without a second thought, the coaches worked together to rescue the gentleman from the upper floor as the fire department arrived to battle the flames. Thanks to an anonymous young boy and a group of men more concerned about their neighbors’ safety than their own, three people were able to survive a tragic situation that could have been a lot worse.

Dr. Guy Giordano (category - Global Impact)
In the fall of 2014 the Ebola crisis was at its peak, claiming 40% of those who were stricken with the illness in the West African Nations of Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia. While most outsiders steered clear of the area, a few – like Dr. Guy Giordano – traveled to it in an attempt to bring medical care to the sick and dying. For close to three months, Dr. Giordano worked in hastily built treatment units that were supplied and staffed in part by nonprofit organizations and the governments of the United States and United Kingdom, seeing an average of 10 to 20 patients every two hours. Dressed in protective suits and working in extreme heat, Dr. Giordano and countless other medical professionals did what they could to assist in the fight to end the outbreak, which damages the immune systems and internal organs and often leads to death for those infected.

Bill Roach (Red Cross Exceptional Service Award)
All of our volunteers are valuable members of the American Red Cross, but some stand out amongst their peers. Bill Roach (Wysox) has been selflessly giving of his talents and passion for many years. He volunteers in Bradford County and there is no end to his commitment to our mission. Whether it is taking out the trash, meeting with our valued partners, or assisting a family who has just suffered a home fire on a cold winter’s eve, Bill is always there. But there’s more to his story. Whenever a call goes out to assist following a national disaster, Bill is one of the first people to voluntarily deploy to help those whose lives have been turned upside down by hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods. This year alone, Bill has deployed to five different states from Louisiana to Missouri, positively impacting hundreds of lives. There is no better example of what it means to be a volunteer than Bill Roach. He is a role model to us all, and we thank him for his dedicated service to The American Red Cross.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

RETTEW Employees Give Generously During Campaign

RETTEW presented $8,400 to The American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Region during a special ceremony held at its headquarters in Lancaster on Wednesday, March 2, 2016. The donation represented money raised during RETTEW’s Workplace Giving Program, which ran from February 10-29.

“The American Red Cross touches all of RETTEW’s regions, so it really touches all of our communities, all of our employees, and all of the clients we serve,” noted Mark Lauriello, RETTEW President and CEO. “I’m so proud that our workforce was so generous in just 19 days.”

RETTEW matched all employee contributions up to $4,000. This was the first time the Red Cross in Central Pennsylvania has worked with a corporation to run a workplace giving program and could not be more thrilled with the results.

All of us at the Red Cross would like to thank RETTEW and its employees for supporting us and the people we serve through the Workplace Give Program. Any corporations wishing to learn more about workplace giving options should reach out to Barb Taylor at 717-234-3101 ext. 1669.

Pictured above l-r: Hope Roaten (Red Cross Disaster Program Specialist), Jenn Wiggin (Red Cross Major Gifts Officer), Kimberly Howells (RETTEW Corporate Administrative Manager), Mark Lauriello (RETTEW President and CEO), and Barb Taylor (Red Cross Chief Development Officer).