Lifeguard Honored for Saving Classmate’s Life

“I let you save my life!”

Allison Uplinger teased Baylie White as the two graduates of Shelby High School walked through the hallways of their alma mater on Thursday, January 5th.  Baylie had just received the American Red Cross Certificate of Merit, the highest award offered by the Red Cross (so high, in fact, that it is even signed by President Obama) for a lifesaving act.

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Allison Uplinger and Baylie White at Shelby High School, after Baylie received the American Red Cross Certificate of Merit for saving Allison’s life

Last spring, while Baylie and Allison were finishing their senior year, Allison began to choke in the cafeteria.  Baylie, who has received Red Cross First Aid training as a certified lifeguard, knew immediately what was happening, and what to do.  After several sharp blows to Allison’s back, the food was dislodged and Allison was able to breathe again.

“I have been lifeguarding for several years, and so I always renew my first aid certification,” Baylie said after receving the framed certificate on the stage of the Shelby High School Performing Arts Center.  The award was given by Lara Kiefer, Executive Director of the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter, and board member Chris Hiner, the President of Richland Bank.

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Chris Hiner, Lara Kiefer and Baylie White at the Shelby High School Performing Arts Center

Allison, who has not yet received Red Cross First Aid training, said it’s on her to-do list.  “Since I plan to be a teacher, I know how important it is to be able to help a choking child.”

The Red Cross offers training in First Aid/CPR/AED, Lifeguarding, even babysitting.  Some classes can be taken online.  You can search for the class most convenient for you here.

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Shelby High School Principal John Gies joined Chris Hiner and Lara Kiefer in congratulating graduate Baylie White for her Certificate of Merit, award to her after she saved the life of classmate Allison Uplinger last spring.  Photos by Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

Ordinary People Honored for Taking Extraordinary Action

Recognized with Highest Award the Red Cross Offers

Lifesavers.  When we hear that word, we think of surgeons, firefighters, police officers, lifeguards.

Add teacher and massage therapist to the list.

Two people who have been certified by the Red Cross for their lifesaving skills have now been honored after putting those skills to use.

Certificates of Merit were awarded to Natasha Alexander-Cooley and Molly O’Donnell.  The certificates, signed by President Barack Obama, cite their “selfless and humane action in sustaining a life.”  They are the highest award given by the Red Cross to someone who sustains or saves a life by using the skills learned during Red Cross training.

Natasha, an educator at Tremont Montessori School in Cleveland, was honored for saving the life of a choking student, by performing several abdominal thrusts until food was dislodged from the choking boy’s throat.

Molly, a licesned massage therapist and trained First Aid/CPR/AED instructor, was cited for her efforts to save the life of her Instructor Trainer, who suffered cardiac arrest prior to the start of their class earlier this year.

“The Red Cross trains people to react to emergency situations, and these individuals did exactly what they were trained to do,” said Charlotte Rerko, Regional COO and a Registered Nurse.   “It was an honor to present these awards to them.”

Charlotte was also honored with a Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action.  She also responded to the stricken CPR Instructor.

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Mike Parks, Charlotte Rerko and Shawn Riley

The awards were presented by Mike Parks, Regional CEO, and Shawn Riley, Board Chair, during the quarterly meeting of the Greater Cleveland Chapter Board of Directors on Thursday, December 8.  There’s a photo gallery from the meeting on the Greater Cleveland Chapter Facebook page.

The Red Cross teaches not only First Aid/CPR/AED, but also Basic Life Support, Babysitting and Childcare, and Lifeguarding.  Go to redcross.org/take-a-class to learn these live saving skills.  You may be called on someday to take extraordinary action in order to save a life.