Red Cross of Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties celebrate the 2015 Acts of Courage

The Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter is pleased to announce the local heroes who were honored for their bravery and heroism at the annual  Acts of Courage event on Thursday, March 5.

The 2015 Honorees included:

Donald MoleskyChristopher Silbaugh and John Underwood were recognized for saving the lives of a couple after a torrential downpour left them trapped in their flooded basement.

A tornado watch was in effect for Cuyahoga Falls. As the water line began to rise during the sudden and torrential downpour in May of 2014, the Hammonds family sought safety in the basement of their home. Once the threat of a tornado had cleared, the children returned to the main floor of the house, leaving their parents to clean-up a small amount of water that had seeped through one of the windows.

Suddenly, the basement wall caved in taking a natural gas line with it. Water rushed in, trapping Michaelann and Mike in the dark stillness of the basement. They rose on the crest of the water until their heads touched the ceiling. The floor joists offered the only air space, though it was tainted by the noxious fumes of the gas. They pounded on the wood, calling to the children to go and get help.

The Hammonds siblings – Emma, Matthew and Sonia – swam across the street to the home of their neighbor, Donald Molesky. Their screams alerted many of the neighbors, including Christopher Silbaugh,  and strangers like John Underwood, whose truch had gotten stuck in the flooded road. John, Christopher and Donald ran to the house.

They pulled an ax from the Hammonds garage and used it, along with Donald’s power saw, to cut through the floorboards. They were able to free Michaelann. Working hard but carefully, they finally pulled Mike through the floor.

Peter Radke was recognized for saving a girl from drowning in Lake Erie.

Peter Radke had agreed to take his daughters and their friends to Lake Erie’s Huntington Beach for a birthday party. Though they knew the water was too choppy to swim, Peter noticed a girl in the water who was struggling to stay afloat. Peter was an excellent swimmer. In spite of the conditions, he dove into the water.

He reached the girl and was able to push her to a safe area where others could grab her.

As they did, Peter struggled to bring himself in.  He was pulled further out into the temperamental, black waters of Lake Erie.  Then he was pulled under, not to resurface.  Peter lost his life to save that drowning girl.

David EiseleDave Wokaty and Officer Justin Winebrenner were recognized their actions when a gunman entered a crowded pub.

Dave Wokaty, David Eisle and Officer Justin Winebrenner were each enjoying a night out with friends at a local pub when Wokaty noticed the manager having an altercation with a customer.

15 minutes later, the customer returned brandishing a weapon. The manager asked Wokaty to see the customer out. Their voices rose in anger. Officer Justin Winebrenner, an off-duty Akron Police officer, and David Eisele joined Wokaty in seeing the customer out.

“From that moment, in my perspective, everything began to move slowly,” said Wokaty.

The gun went off. Though their fearless, and quick thinking saved many patrons and staff members, Wokaty was shot in the stomach and arm.

Officer Winebrenner received a fatal shot.

“I believe,” continued Wokaty,” if it weren’t for Justin, I wouldn’t be here now.”

The gunman ran off. He was caught shortly afterwards by the police.

Jason Duncan was recognized for performing CPR to save the life of a 7-day old infant.

On a cool night in early May, Jason Duncan and his wife Krista heard screaming coming from outside of their front door. Then they heard the sound of someone desperately pounding. Opening the door, Jason saw his neighbors, Bobbi Jo and Dustin holding their seven-day-old baby, Logan. The baby was not breathing and his lips had started to turn an unnatural shade of blackish-purple.  While Krista dialed 911, Jason grabbed a nasal aspirator and began infant CPR.

In a few heartbeats, Logan’s tiny cry pierced the stillness. A sound that Jason and Dustin describe as one of the greatest sounds they ever heard.

Essien (Chris) Cobham and Samantha Phillips were recognized for performing CPR on a visiting student at Kent State University.

Kent State University student, Chris Cobham, was studying in a quiet area of the Student Union on campus, when he heard a thud. A high school student who had been visiting the campus was choking. Quickly assessing the situation, Chris stepped in and began abdominal thrusts on the boy. He slid him to the ground and began CPR once the student’s lips turned blue.

Samantha Phillips, who was cutting through the Student Union on her way to her next class, heard the panic in the conversations of those around her. She went to investigate.

“It’s instinct to go and help someone,” said Samantha, who is working on a degree in Athletic Training. Part of her curriculum is Red Cross certification in First Aid and CPR.

She could see that Chris was getting tired. Pulling out her CPR breathing mask, Samantha assisted breathing as Chris administered the chest compressions until help arrived. The boy was taken to the hospital, and is now back at home.

Bill Adkins and Tony Hylton were recognized for performing CPR on a friend, and fellow Seville Bronze worker.

When Jim Robinson fell to the floor not long after arriving at work, suffering from a massive heart attack, Bill Adkins and Tony Hylton responded quickly.  Trained as part of the company-sponsored first responder team at Seville Bronze, they never thought they would be called to perform CPR on Jim.

“Jim was Superman at work. To be pushing on your friend of 18…20 years? It was devastating,” said Tony.

Their extensive training in Red Cross First Aid and CPR kicked in and they were able to help maintain Jim until paramedics arrived.

“If not for the efforts of Bill and Tony, Jim may not be alive today,” said Chief Jerry Winkler of the Seville-Guilford Fire and EMS.

Officer Derrick Jackson,  and Officer Chris Crockett were recognized for saving a man from a home fire.

Officers Chris Crockett and Derrick Jackson reported to the scene of a house fire where someone was still inside. Knowing that seconds count in a fire, Officer Jackson, a new recruit on the Akron Police Department, pushed his way into the building. Thick smoke bellowed from the house. He came back out to catch his breath.

Officer Crockett returned to the police cruiser for a facemask to filter the smoke. Diving into the home, he too began searching around for the resident as Officer Jackson guided to him from the open door. Once the man was located, the officers pulled him to safety.

Devon McConnell, Ethan Cameron, Paul Martin and Andy Reece were recognized for saving two women and an infant from a fire.

Four Ohio Edison linemen — Devon McConnell, Ethan Cameron, Paul Martin and Andy Reece  — sent to a job site in Rittman, were just getting ready to break for lunch when they heard a woman’s voice screaming, “Fire!”

Looking around, Paul Martin saw a woman standing on a balcony, holding a baby in her arms.

The crew called 911. Knowing that time was of the essence, they quickly moved into position. Moving their truck closer to the building, Devon raised the bucket and grabbed the family. As he was lowering the woman and child to the ground, another woman appeared on another balcony and began yelling for help. As heat rolled out of the open door, Devon returned to rescue the second woman. It took five fire departments to contain the blaze.

All four men have first responder certification, as well as Red Cross First Aid and CPR training. They view their actions as just another facet of their job.

“We are fortunate to have a sense of pride in our jobs. It is an amazing feeling, simply to see the lights come on,” said Paul.

Melvin Davis and Steve Myers were recognized for saving a woman from an apartment fire.

On a Friday night in October, a resident at the apartment complex where Melvin Davis is a Live-in Assistant ran into his apartment to alert him to a fire in one of the apartments. Moving quickly, Melvin grabbed his pass key and followed the man. He could smell the smoke. He called out to the resident, an elderly woman. She answered that she was hurt and couldn’t get to the door.

Melvin opened the door. Struggling to breathe, he couldn’t see more than two feet in front of himself. He called out again. He moved into the apartment but returned to the hallway when he heard the door slam shut behind him. Steve Myers, a resident of the complex, was in the hall and offered to hold the door so that Melvin would be able to find his way out.

Melvin returned into the smoke and crackling flames of the apartment. Working between the sound of the woman’s voice and the sound of Steve’s, he was able to pull the woman to the door. Steve and Melvin moved her to the safety of the stairwell and then began helping the rest of the residents out of the building.

“It was just a blessing to help her,” said Steve.

Officer Adam LeMonier, Officer Darren McConnell and Officer Gregory Mesko were recognized for saving a woman from a home fire.

Officers Adam LeMonier, Darren McConnell and Gregory Mesko were called to a smoke filled home. Neighbors reported that the resident was at home and had not been seen. Moving quickly, the officers made the decision to enter the home and search for the woman. The Officers found her asleep on her bed unaware of what was going on. She was quickly removed from the home.

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In addition to recognizing the heroism of area residents at the event, the American Red Cross of Summit, Portage and Medina Counties will present the H. Peter Burg Award to a community member who has been selfless in service to the community.  This year’s recipient is William (Bill) J. Ginter, who demonstrates a lifelong commitment to humanitarian causes, charitable organizations and the vitality and welfare of the local 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 American Red Cross established an award in Pete’s name to honor his memory and inspire others. By bestowing the award on Bill the Red Cross recognizes his lifetime of community service.

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