Greater Cleveland Heroes Honored

A psychiatric nurse who puts his life on the line to treat his patients.

A FirstEnergy Meter Reader who used his first aid training to help a severely injured man.

A U. S. Army Colonel who commands a medical unit responsible for working in combat zones.

A Patient Navigator who helps adolescent and young adult patients recover from cancer.

A Coast Guard pilot who rescued a mariner after his sailboat was smashed on the Fairport Harbor break wall.

A Cleveland Police Detective and two Patrol Officers who administered life-saving aid to an injured man.

And a miniature horse who brings comfort and joy to hospitalized children.

The 2016 American Red Cross Greater Cleveland Hero Award winners were honored on Friday, March 11 during a luncheon ceremony at the First Merit Cleveland Convention Center.  More than 400 people helped pay tribute to the heroes.  They heard Regional CEO Mike Parks update Red Cross efforts to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies. And they saw a video featuring the heroes telling their stories.

Sara Shookman, co-anchor of the 6:00 PM and 11:00 PM news on WKYC TV 3 hosted the ceremony.  Channel 3 News covered the event, along with WOIO and Fox 8.

In addition to the hero honorees, Dr. Akram Boutros, President and CEO of The MetroHealth System was presented with the Community Leader Award.

Photo credit: Cal Pusateri/American Red Cross Volunteer

Here are the 2016 Greater Cleveland Heroes:

Thomas Huggins, Visiting Nurse Association

Psychiatric nurse Thomas (Thom) Huggins of the Visiting Nurse Association of Ohio goes above and beyond to help people who are in emotional or mental torment.  Even when they first refuse his help.

Thom visits their homes repeatedly until the patients begin to trust him and to believe him when he tells them that their medication will help, and that their condition is not a sign of weakness.  He knows that if a patient’s mental health and stability improve, the patient’s life will be better and the entire community will benefit.

His courage and compassion have allowed hundreds, if not thousands of individuals to continue their journey to healthy, safe, and independent living.

“To see the spark start to the return to their eyes, that they get it, and to see them feel relief from their symptoms,” says Thom, “What could I ever do that would be better than being a part of that?”

David Bailey, First Energy Corp.

Dave Bailey, a Meter Reader at First Energy, was just finishing up a job at a home in Concord Township when he was approached by another man with a look of horror on his face. The man was a carpenter who was working nearby and had severely injured his hand with a saw. Dave took control of the situation. He recalled the emergency first aid training he received as part of his job.  Dave told the man to keep pressure on the wound to help control the bleeding, and helped keep him calm while they waited for emergency medical personnel to arrive. Dave then activated the emergency lights on his truck to help guide the ambulance crew to their location.

Dave, who is preparing to retire after 15 years with First Energy, is grateful he was able to help a fellow human being in need.

Col. Thomas Dundon, DDS, Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center

Dr. Thomas Dundon is not only Chief of Dental Services at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center,  he is also a U. S. Army Colonel.  He has twice been deployed to war zones in the Middle East. Dr. Dundon has devoted his entire military and professional career to serving Army Reservists and Veterans, and is currently Commander of the 912th Dental Company.

Dr. Dundon was awarded the distinguished U.S. Army Bronze Star, a medal denoting meritorious achievement or service in a combat zone for his deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2008.  Through his leadership as the Dental Commander for the entire northern region of Iraq, Dr. Dundon helped more than 12,000 coalition forces and civilians receive quality dental care.

In addition to his military deployments, Dr. Dundon has led numerous dental teams on humanitarian missions to impoverished areas throughout the world, improving access to dental care for thousands of people.

Amelia Baffa, UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital

Adolescents and young adults with cancer can face unique challenges.  They are often caught between pediatric and adult oncology. The medical and social needs of these patients often differ from the needs of infants, younger children and adults.

Amelia Baffa recognizes the challenges these patients face as a Patient Navigator for teen and young adult cancer patients at the Angie Fowler Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Institute at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.

She is nationally recognized for her efforts to develop fertility preservation programs for this age group.

Prior to her role as an adolescent and young adult (AYA) Patient Navigator, Amelia was a driving force behind the transformation of blood conservation at the hospital. The standards and guidelines she helped create limited unnecessary pediatric blood transfusions.  She then went on to help other children’s hospitals develop and implement similar programs.  The impact of her efforts has been significant across the country.

Harry Ramsey, United States Coast Guard

Winds were whipping up waves on Lake Erie after sunset on October 8th, when a distress call was received: a sailboat was in danger of smashing into the Fairport Harbor break wall. The seas were 6-9 feet with winds exceeding 20 knots, as a Coast Guard response boat, piloted by Boatswain’s Mate Harry Ramsey arrived. The sailboat did indeed hit the break wall and was taking on water. Despite the extremely challenging weather conditions, and the dangerous proximity to the break wall, Petty Officer Ramsey expertly maneuvered the Coast Guard vessel to rescue the boater from his sinking sailboat.  He executed the transfer flawlessly.

The Coast Guard credits Boatswain’s Mate Harry Ramsey’s bravery, professionalism, and dedication for saving the life of the boater, and preserving the lives of his crew.

Detective John Graves, Patrol Officer Theresa Cavett, Patrol Officer Matthew Cavanaugh, Cleveland Division of Police

Police aren’t often called to chase down someone in need of medical attention.  But it happened one night in December 2015, when Detective John Graves was the first on the scene of a serious car crash on Cleveland’s near west side. Witnesses said a bleeding man ran from the crash. Detective Graves spotted him and gave chase on foot, finally apprehending the man in a yard nearby. He had severe arm and leg wounds.  Arriving on the scene, Officer Matthew Cavanaugh applied a tourniquet to the injured leg, utilizing his recent first-aid training. Officer Theresa Cavett used the man’s belt as a tourniquet on his arm, and tried to keep him from going into shock. Emergency Medical personnel then took man to a nearby hospital, where doctors said a bullet had hit the man’s femoral artery, and that he would have died without the officers’ quick and competent medical attention.

Petie the Pony, Victory Gallop Therapeutic Riding School

Petie the Pony has been bringing joy into the lives of children for nearly 20 years.  He visits patients at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, offering a form of therapy that no doctor or drug can match.  His big brown eyes and his soft muzzle offer warmth and kindness to every child he meets.  He is never impatient, and always finds a way to break through the barrier of pain or sickness to bring joy to children.

Preparing Petie is no easy task.  His handlers Sue Miller, Kim Gustely and Toril Simon of Victory Gallop, a therapeutic horseback riding school, must go through a painstaking procedure to be sure he meets the hospital’s cleanliness standards.  Petie must then negotiate a revolving door and an elevator to access patient rooms.  But the visible joy he brings to a child who hasn’t smiled in weeks is a gift well worth the effort.

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