MEDINA — There are heroes among us in Medina County and a Red Cross event next month will celebrate some of them.
The Medina County chapter of the Red Cross this week announced its 2011 Heartland Heroes award winners — a group of adults, children, safety professionals and everyday people who each did something extraordinary to save lives or help the community.
“The message behind doing this program is to inspire people to move to act to help other people,” said Beth Kilchenman, executive director of the county’s Red Cross chapter.
This is the ninth year the group has held the event. Awards are given in three categories. Heartland Heroes are ordinary people who do something great while going about their lives. In-the-line-of-duty Heroes are people who did their heroic act as part of their jobs. The Little Hero is a child who did a big act that saved a life.
Most of the heroes said this week that they’re honored to receive the award, but that they didn’t do their life-saving act to receive it.
Deputy Dave Preis, who in September alerted a Westfield Township woman that her house was on fire and carried her baby out, said just that. “Cops do great things every day. So do firemen. So do soldiers. So does John Doe or Jane Doe who jump out of his car when he sees something,” Preis said. “People are amazing.”
— Terry Leahy of Litchfield Township — Leahy saved his parish’s priest, the Rev. Ned Weist, who fell into floodwaters while inspecting the damage of a failed dam last month. Leahy jumped 20 feet into the rushing water and stayed in the chilly water for 50 minutes while he held Weist’s head above the water. “I know it was cold, but my thoughts were … the first thing is to make sure he didn’t go into shock or coronary arrest. Those are my thoughts: hanging on,” Leahy said.
He attributed his instincts to decades of safety training at LTV Steel. “I always said that you do what you can do when you can. If you need to jump in, you jump in,” Leahy said.
— Lisa Lowe of Brunswick — For the last six years, Lowe has volunteered an average of 2,600 hours a year to animal rescue organization Save Ohio Strays. She bottle feeds kittens and helps with fundraising events. Plus, she’s fostered about 300 cats and dogs while the organization works to find them homes. She said at one point, she counted 24 foster animals in her house. “The puppy kisses are the best part of it all,” Lowe said, laughing.
She said the second best part is seeing the animals find a permanent home. “It’s the great thing in the world to know that you had a part in getting that cat or that dog to that place.”
— Russ and Katy Tobel of Brunswick — The Tobels started a local support group for parents affected by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome after they lost their infant son, Collin, to the condition in 1998. “There was no support when Collin died. My wife wanted support. So they started their own group and have been able to help a lot of people who have unfortunately have had this situation,” Russ Tobel said.
They also began fundraising for the SIDS Network of Ohio. Their annual event, a reverse raffle called “A Night to Remember” has been held 11 times and has raised almost $300,000 for SIDS awareness and research.
“I definitely think my wife is a hero. She’s got a great big heart and has done a lot for a lot of people. I was just lucky enough to marry her,” Russ Tobel said.
— Robert Metzger of Medina and Tim and Sheryl Nieman of Montville Township — The Niemans and Metzger were driving in separate cars in the 1000 block of North Jefferson Street in Medina on Dec. 4 when they saw smoke coming from a home. Both cars stopped and Metzger called 911. Tim Nieman and Metzger were looking through windows of the home to see if anyone was inside. They saw a 66-year-old woman lying on the floor of the home. Along with Officer Sara Lynn of the Medina Police Department, the men went inside and pulled the woman to safety. “I wasn’t really thinking too much, to be honest. I was just trying to help,” Metzger said.
Sheryl Nieman, Tim’s mother, took care of the woman while they waited for an ambulance to arrive. “She wiped the smoke off her face, and covered her with the blanket,” Tim Nieman said.
“It was just one of those situations where I was either at the right place at the right time or the right place at the wrong time, depending how you look at it,” Tim Nieman later said.
— Scott Oring of Chippewa Lake — Oring and his father-in-law, Lawrence Malone, were run over by a backhoe when they were working on a tractor at Malone’s home in Georgia in July. Despite his own injuries, which included a shattered collarbone and lung and rib contusions, Oring stood up and went to work on Malone. He said he called on his expertise as a paramedic with Summa Wadsworth Rittman Hospital and Medina LST and as a volunteer with Westfield Fire and Rescue. Oring monitored his father-in-law’s condition and directed rescue that arrived on scene.
“No matter how horrific it is, you tend to go into automatic pilot. I think that’s what it was. I think it was just the training and the hundreds of calls I’ve been on,” he said.
Malone was released 10 days later. He suffered a collapsed left lung, a severely injured left foot, a broken back, a fractured pelvis and a broken collarbone. “He still says he’s lucky to be alive. The statistics say that 85 percent of farming accidents involving machinery end up as a fatality. So we’re both lucky to be alive,” Oring said.
— Donald Chaney of the Medina County Office for Older Adults — Chaney, a home-delivered meal driver, found an elderly male client wandering about 100 feet away from his home on Jan. 21. Chaney called 911 and kept the client warm with a blanket until emergency crews arrived. “Don’s quick response saved a life,” Office of Older Adults Director Joyce Giles said in her nomination form.
— Deputy Doug Clinage of the Medina County Sheriff’s Office — Clinage rescued a woman who became stranded Feb. 28 when her car was flooded on Elyria Road in York Township. When he arrived on scene, the woman was standing atop a guardrail post, but she fell into the moving water as he approached. He helped the woman out of the water and kept her warm in his cruiser until paramedics arrived.
— Steve Ingersol, Tony Januszewski, Mona LeFevre and Alan Vondriska of the Medina Hospital Life Support Team — The four responded to an accident at Weymouth and South Weymouth roads in Medina Township on March 7, in which a 75-year-old woman’s car was T-boned by a large pickup and was pushed down a ditch. They worked with Medina Township and Medina Fire crews to extricate her and then treated her as they took her to the hospital. “We were all quite surprised to win the (Heartland Hero) award,” Ingersol said. “Not to sound cliche, but it was just doing our job.”
n Officer Sara Lynn of the Medina Police Department — Lynn responded to a Dec. 4 fire in Medina and, along with fellow award recipients Tim Nieman and Robert Metzger, helped pull a 66-year-old woman out of her burning home.
“I’m humbled,” Lynn said about receiving the award, “because I believe I did what any other Medina police officer would have done if they were given the same situation.”
— Bart Randolph, assistant principal at Cloverleaf High School and Deputy Dave Preis of the Medina County Sheriff’s Office — Preis, who is Cloverleaf’s DARE officer, and Randolph were at the high school on Sept. 8 when they saw smoke billowing from a home across the street. They called 911 and went inside the home, where they found homeowner Jody Buchanan stunned by the fire. They grabbed Buchanan’s infant daughter and her dog and told Buchanan to get out of the house.
Preis then re-entered the home to retrieve keys to move a car that was near the flames. Preis said firefighters and police do “spectacular things” like this all the time. “We go home and the end of the day we’re just happy to go home,” he said.
— Joey Dietrich of Wadsworth — Ten-year-old Joey called 911 March 3 when his mother Jamie Soucie woke up at 4:30 in the morning and collapsed to the ground. Paramedics later found that she had sufferied a stroke.
“I didn’t really know how to describe it because I didn’t know what a stroke was. So I gave them all the information about what had happened that day and I gave all the medicine she takes,” Joey said.
Wadsworth paramedic Heather May said in her nomination form that Joey’s help may have saved his mother’s life. “We were so impressed with Joe’s actions and maturity,” May wrote.
Joey’s mother is still recovering. “I feel pretty sad that she’s in the hospital, but at least it’s a better place than death,” he said.
Contact Maria Kacik Kula at (330) 721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.