Real Heroes come in all shapes and sizes in Portage County (with photo gallery)

By Mike Sever | Staff Writer Published:

This year's group of Real Heroes honored by the American Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties on Thursday included two youngsters who saved family members' lives, along with a hospital telephone operator and police and firefighters.

The awards go to Portage residents who have acted courageously and selflessly in a time of emergency. As part of the event, Ron and Joan Burbick were presented with the second annual Robinson Memorial Hospital Portage Paragon Award. The Burbicks were honored for their community activity in helping to revitalize downtown Kent, and for their service on a number of nonprofits.

Introduced by Sue Wilson of WQMX/FM and Tim Daugherty of WONE/FM, this year's honorees proved that "real heroes come in all shapes and sizes."

Parker Hollender, 6, called 911 last August after his mother, Paula, felt faint and laid down on a lounge chair in their backyard. When he couldn't wake her, Parker found his mom's cell phone and speed dialed his dad at work. While talking with his dad, Parker made up his mind and said "I have to dial 911," something he'd been taught to do in an emergency. On instruction from a police dispatcher, Parker got his mother's driver's license and read the address so Atwater Fire Department EMTs could find the house. When medics arrived, Parker was out in the driveway, waving them down.

Camden Buckley saved his twin brother, Jackson, who has suffered from seizures since birth. Last year, as the 7-year-olds were sharing a bath, Jackson lost consciousness and fell face first into the water just as their mother, Tracy, left the room to get more towels.

Camden immediately raised his brother's head out of the water and turned it to the side so Jackson would not choke. Then Camden called for his mom, and the two lifted Jackson from the tub.

Tracy Buckley said the boys have been taught to look out for each other. "He knows what to do and responds very quickly," she said of Camden. In return, Jackson watches out for Camden, who doesn't like the dark, she said.

Other heroes honored include a switchboard operator at Robinson Memorial, Streetsboro police officers and Aurora police and firefighters.

One day last year, Katherine Noahr's first call of her shift at Robinson Memorial turned into a matter of life or death. The man on the line said he wanted to kill himself and had just taken a bottle of pills. Noahr, who had taken Crisis Intervention Training, engaged the man in conversation. When she asked for his name and address he hung up. Noahr was able to use the switchboard's caller ID to call him back and continue the conversation. Gradually, even through a second hang up, Noahr was able to convince the man to give his name and address. Noahr quickly passed the information to a colleague who called 911. Noahr stayed on the line with him until help arrived.

Streetsboro Police Officer Aaron Coates noticed a crowd while on patrol through the Streetsboro City Park. Just then a radio report came over about a small child in the park choking and unable to breathe.

On reaching the crowd, Coates found an off-duty nurse attempting to administer CPR to an unresponsive 2-year-old, but without effect. On examination, Coates noticed the child's mouth and airways were swollen, blocking his breathing. Coates immediately forced two fingers into the child's throat to force the airway open and the child began to breathe.

When EMTs arrived, Coates carried the child, his fingers still holding the airway open, to the ambulance where he was placed on a breathing apparatus.

Another Streetsboro policeman, Sgt. Andrew Suvada, put his Crisis Intervention Team training to use last year when a 911 call came in about a man threatening suicide as well as the lives of patrons at a restaurant. At the scene, Suvada talked with the man who was pointing a gun to his head and also threatening a man and woman who were in the room. As the conversation went on, Suvada saw the man's resolve was wavering. He finally convinced the man to put the gun down, and two other officers quietly led him away.

Aurora Fire Captain Bill Lovell, Police Sgt. Andrew Lumpkins and officers Joe LaPerna and David Prislan were honored for their rescue of an Aurora woman trapped in her burning home. Lumpkins and LaPerna entered the smoke-filled home and LaPerna was first to locate her and got her onto a blanket to drag her toward the outside. Lovell and Lumpkins helped drag the woman through the door to fresh air.

LaPerna collapsed still inside the house and Lovell went back into the fire and smoke and dragged LaPerna out. Unfortunately, the woman was severely burned and died several days later.

The award ceremony, which drew some 200 people, was held at Camp Ravenna for the first time, to spotlight the American Red Cross and its relationship with the military and military families. Lt. Col. Ed Meade, camp commander, said he thought having people in the camp for such events "makes the community more aware of what we do."

A special award was presented to Ron Burbick, Matt Slater and Fred Allan of American Legion Post 496 in Kent for their work with Freedom House, a shelter and program for homeless veterans. Slater noted that veterans make up 11 percent of the American population, but 16 to 20 percent of the homeless population.

"That is by far too much," Slater said.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1125 or msever@recordpub.com

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