Real Heroes Breakfast 2018 Recap

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Each year the Red Cross of Alaska Real Heroes Breakfast shines a spotlight on everyday Alaskans who have committed extraordinary, selfless acts of bravery.
They have saved lives, changed their communities for the better and made a difference.
Like the Red Cross, they have taken it upon themselves to prevent and alleviate suffering for those in need.
In April we celebrated those moments where hope prevailed, compassion triumphed and ordinary citizens have acted, with resolve, often without regard to their own safety, to help a fellow Alaskan.
Below are the ten award categories from the 2018 breakfast, the videos that aired at the event, the generous sponsor for each award and the name of the individuals honored:

Marine Rescue:

Hero: Captain Christian Trosvig
Sponsored by: Dowland-Bach
In July 2017, Captain Christian Trosvig and his crew of three were returning after an afternoon salmon fishing in the Kupreanof Straight off the coast of Alaska’s Raspberry Island. Their vessel, the Grayling began to take on water. After making a distress call, the Grayling rolled, throwing Trosvig and the three fishermen overboard. All but one fisherman made it out of the water safely. Trosvig dove back into 40-degree water and swam through rough conditions to rescue the unconscious crewman. Once onboard the rescue boat, Trosvig performed CPR and revived the fisherman. Thanks to Trosvig’s heroic efforts, all four fishermen survived the incident.

Transportation Safety:

Sponsored by: BP Alaska
The Anchorage Police department stepped up to fill a policing void on the heavily traveled Seward Highway—an area where an average of 10,000 vehicles travel each day. In October 2017, APD began patrolling mile 75 to 112 of the Seward Highway thanks to a legislative grant. APD, with the help of other community members, solved an ongoing transportation safety concern that will undoubtedly lead to lives saved.

Wilderness Rescue:

Hero: Obadiah Jenkins
Obadiah Jenkins had just finished his pre-race run in preparation for the Six Mile Creek Whitewater & Bluegrass Festival in August of 2017 when he heard a cry for help from a spectator. There was a man nearby who’s kayak flipped and was dumped out, and he was pinned partially under water. After several rescue attempts by a crew of kayakers, the man lost consciousness and was fully submerged under water. Risking his own safety, Jenkins jumped in and pulled the man out of harms way. The man was resuscitated and taken to a hospital where he was quickly released, thanks to Jenkins’ act of bravery.

Military/Law Enforcement Rescue:

Hero: Chaplain Brian Phipps
Sponsored by: Walmart Eagle River
According to his peers, Chaplain Brian Phipps displays character, integrity, and dedication to the chaplaincy that is above reproach. He single-handedly coordinated, planned, and executed three memorial services, a funeral, and family support for three deceased Paratroopers within the Spartan Brigade over the second half of 2017. Chaplain Phipps is also the primary Brigade instructor for Suicide Awareness training, among a host of other classes that he provides in support of Soldier resiliency within the Spartan Brigade. Through all of this, in such a condensed amount of time, he persisted with a great attitude, and accomplished what was most definitely an overwhelming set of tasks.

Alaska/Slope Safety:

Heroes: The Southeast Alaska Dogs Organized for Ground Search (SEADOGS)
Sponsored by: ExxonMobil Alaska
The Southeast Alaska Dogs Organized for Ground Search (SEADOGS) is a volunteer nonprofit search and rescue organization dedicated to training and handling search dogs in Southeast Alaska. Dogs can be certified in several different skills, including finding human remains, avalanche search, and rescue and water training. Certified handlers are on 24-hour call, and available within 40 minutes or less of notification for a search. Every year SEADOGS participates in searches involving everything from lost hunters to suicide victims.

Youth Good Samaritan:

Heroes: Losefa Riley John and Seth Gerrin
Fourteen-year-old Losefa Riley John and three of his friends were at Cope Park in March 2017, when they witnessed a young boy lose his footing while hiking, and fall into Gold Creek. The waters were running fast and the boy became stuck between a fence and a tree, in an area where the water can get up to eight feet deep. John quickly slid down the side of the cliff to the boy, pulled him out of the water, and carried him to safety where paramedics were just arriving on the scene. Thanks to John’s act of bravery, the young boy only suffered minor bumps and bruises that day.

Adult Good Samaritan:

Hero: Andrew Cunningham
Andrew Cunningham took off across Eklutna Lake via standup paddleboard in September 2017, his destination a public use cabin more than three miles down the lake. When he noticed an overturned tandem kayak, he paddled closer to find a second tandem kayak overturned, and two struggling in the cold water. The two individuals held on to the paddle board while Cunningham fought choppy waves for an hour trip back to shore. Cunningham listened to his gut when he saw the abandoned kayak and ended up saving two lives that day.

Medical Rescue:

Hero: Nenana Fire Chief Joe Forness
When Nenana Fire Chief Joe Forness began experiencing chest pains, his wife, Larenda Forness, a Nenana Fire Lieutenant, called an ambulance. On his way to the hospital, his chest pain slowed. When the ambulance came across a collision between a snow machine and vehicle with someone in critical condition, Forness did what he does best. He put his own health risks to the side and began helping the collision victim. After getting the victim to the hospital and handing off to the ER team, Forness felt the chest pain return. After assisting the collision victim, Forness was airlifted to Anchorage, where he underwent quintuple coronary artery bypass surgery.

Workplace Safety:

Heroes: Kimberly Dang, Breanna Love and Larry Davis
Sponsored by: ConocoPhillips
Kimberly Dang, Breanna Love and Larry Davis were three key responders on July 22, when a ConocoPhillips employee experienced a sudden and extreme cardiac event just after 4 a.m. in Kuparuk. Through the team’s immediate and sustained efforts, their co-worker presented with return of spontaneous circulation and was successfully transported to the onsite medical clinic. Their co-worker was then successfully stabilized and medevac’d from the remote North Slope facility to higher level care and ultimately returned home safely to friends and family. Nationwide, similar events average single digit survival rates.

Fire Rescue:

Hero: Andrew Engelking
Andrew Engelking and his family lived in unit 303 at the Royal Suite Apartments, not far from where the flames started on the morning of February 15, 2017 when the building caught fire. With his family’s lives on the line, Engelking’s adrenaline kicked in. After jumping three stories to the ground and breaking his own leg, Engelking proceeded to catch his children and pregnant wife. His new daughter, Liberty, was delivered prematurely by emergency cesarean section the day of the fire. Thanks to his quick actions and heroic efforts, he and his family are safe and well.
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Red Cross Helps 66 Alaskans in the Month of March

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The American Red Cross of Alaska responds to calls for assistance, on average, almost once a day state-wide. In March, 66 people were assisted; of those assisted, at least 12 were children under the age of 18.  Including, 5 who were listed as young children (0-5).

VOLUNTEERS, all across the state, give up their free time to make this amount of help in their communities possible.

Breakdown of service by area:

Anchorage: 25 individuals received aid.

Kasigluk: 2 individuals receive aid.

Fairbanks: 12 individuals received aid.

Juneau: 3 individuals received aid.

Soldotna: 5 individuals received aid.

Ketchikan: 5 individuals received aid.

Wasilla: 3 individuals received aid.

Diomede: 2 individuals received aid.

Barrow: 4 individuals received aid.

Craig: 4 individuals received aid.

Valdez: 1 individuals received aid.

 

About the American Red Cross of Alaska:
In FY17, the American Red Cross of Alaska offered food, shelter, comfort and hope to 949 Alaskans. We responded to 305 disasters.  Our preparedness / Health and Safety teams installed 2,311 smoke alarms statewide and educated 1,884 youth through our Pillowcase Project. Additionally, our Service to the Armed Forces staff exchanged 957 emergency messages for U.S. military service personnel and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit
redcross.org/Alaska or visit us on Twitter at @redcrossak.

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One year later- Thank you for supporting the Red Cross response to the Royal Suites apartment fire

Originally published February 15, 2018
A year ago today, I stood in the Spenard Rec Center and watched about 15 elementary-aged children whiz back and forth on roller boards. They looked like any other group of kids getting some indoor exercise on a cold Anchorage morning.
The wheel boards came to a halt when a Red Cross volunteer and her therapy dog entered the gym. The kids gathered around the pup, eager to have a turn to pet. As they formed a semi-circle and calmly played with their new furry friend, the tragedy they just faced began to unfold. The children talked to the puppy about how they had to jump out of their window that morning because their home was on fire. They described how cold the snow was with only socks on their feet. They talked about how fast they had to get out and how scared they were. The dog’s handler nodded and listened, not saying much, but asked a few opened ended questions to allow the children to grieve.
children petting dogThis week marks the one-year anniversary of the Royal Suites 30-plex apartment fire in the Spenard area. I’d like to say thank you to our community for coming together to support our response efforts that morning.
Because of your generous support, those kids had a warm place to go after losing everything. They had a safe place to sleep with their families. They had toiletries and a warm shower. The school bus picked them up from the Red Cross shelter at the Spenard Rec Center, so they stayed on schedule with their regular daily routine. When they came home to the shelter they had pasta for dinner.
Immediate needs vary for everyone after a disaster. For one person that meant replacing prescription medicines he needed right away. For another it meant new eyeglasses. For many it meant a hug and a friendly person to tell them what they should do next.
Because of your generosity, more than 60 individuals had their immediate needs met when they lost everything and had nowhere to turn. This is your generosity in action and YOU made this help possible.
The Red Cross of Alaska continues to respond on average almost daily to home fires and to help those whose lives have been turned upside down by disaster. Our work is 365 days per year, 24 hours a day.
We could never do it without you.
Sincerely,
Lisa Miller, Red Cross of Alaska chief development officer

Red Cross Helps 89 Alaskans in the Month of February

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The American Red Cross of Alaska responds to calls for assistance, on average, almost once a day state-wide. In February, 89 people were assisted; of those assisted, at least 15 were children under the age of 18.  Including, 9 who were listed as young children (0-5).

VOLUNTEERS, all across the state, give up their free time to make this amount of help in their communities possible.

Breakdown of service by area:

Anchorage: 45 individuals received aid.

Fairbanks: 18 individuals received aid.

North Pole: 2 individuals received aid.

Homer: 2 individuals received aid.

Kenai: 8 individuals received aid.

Ketchikan: 1 individuals received aid.

Wasilla: 12 individuals received aid.

White Mountain: 1 individuals received aid.

About the American Red Cross of Alaska:
In FY17, the American Red Cross of Alaska offered food, shelter, comfort and hope to 949 Alaskans. We responded to 305 disasters.  Our preparedness / Health and Safety teams installed 2,311 smoke alarms statewide and educated 1,884 youth through our Pillowcase Project. Additionally, our Service to the Armed Forces staff exchanged 957 emergency messages for U.S. military service personnel and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit
redcross.org/Alaska or visit us on Twitter at @redcrossak.

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Voice of Volunteers: Meet Sandi

Did you know that the Red Cross of Alaska deploys volunteers around the country and around the world, to assist in the aftermath of disasters? Have you considered deploying? If you have, but weren’t sure if you had the necessary skills, volunteer Sandi Hodges can set your mind at ease:  “You just have to have a lot of patience and be flexible.”

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Sandi outside of the Red Cross shelter at the University of California Santa Barbara. The shelter assisted those impacted by the Thomas fire. (photo courtesy of Sandi Hodges)

Sandi knows what she is talking about, having participated in one local deployment and three deployments outside of Alaska. She’s provided relief for those displaced by the Sockeye Fire near Willow, conducted disaster assessment in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, staffed a shelter for those affected by Hurricane Harvey, and traveled to California to assist those impacted by the Thomas fire.

“I joined the Red Cross as a nurse,” Sandi says, and usually serves in that capacity. During a deployment, Sandi spends her 12-hour days connecting clients with mental health services, assisting them in filling prescriptions, providing basic medical care, and perhaps most importantly, lending a listening ear. “People want to tell their tales and want to be heard…you just have to be there to listen to them. Sometimes they just need a shoulder to cry on.”

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The Red Cross established a shelter in Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The photo shows one of four dorms. (photo courtesy of Sandi Hodges)

It can be exhausting work, but Sandi takes comfort in the support she receives from the Red Cross. The organization “really takes care of their people,” she says, “I’m proud to be associated with them and feel happy with the organization.”

Such support allows Sandi to focus on what is really important: the clients. She remembers one instance, passing out food and water to a hurricane-ravaged community. Her group “came up upon one family; they’d lost everything and were really confused and devastated.” After completing the day’s work, Sandi’s group returned to assist the family by emptying the house of its ruined contents. “We just kind of helped the family…overcome the immensity of the whole scene,” she says.

Sandi has found her deployment experiences to be intensely rewarding. She says, “My MO most of my life is helping and volunteering. It’s a nice fit for me and a good feeling.”

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Red Cross volunteers on their way to provide assistance to those displaced by Hurricane Harvey. (photo courtesy of Sandi Hodges)

If you are interested in deploying with the Red Cross, please learn more at www.redcross.org/local/alaska/volunteer.

Red Cross Helps 113 Alaskans in the Month of January

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The American Red Cross of Alaska responds to calls for assistance, on average, almost once a day state-wide. In January, 113 people were assisted; of those assisted, at least 42 were children under the age of 18.  Including, 10 who were listed as young children (0-5).

VOLUNTEERS, all across the state, give up their free time to make this amount of help in their communities possible.

Breakdown of service by area:

Anchorage: 54 individuals received aid.

Nunapitchuk: 7 individuals received aid.

Fairbanks: 3 individuals received aid.

North Pole: 8 individuals received aid.

Juneau: 4 individuals received aid.

Anchor Point: 3 individuals received aid.

Soldotna: 8 individuals received aid.

Kenai: 14 individuals received aid.

Homer: 1 individual received aid.

Palmer: 3 individuals received aid.

Wasilla: 7 individuals received aid.

Gambell: 1 individuals received aid.

About the American Red Cross of Alaska:
In FY17, the American Red Cross of Alaska offered food, shelter, comfort and hope to 949 Alaskans. We responded to 305 disasters.  Our preparedness / Health and Safety teams installed 2,311 smoke alarms statewide and educated 1,884 youth through our Pillowcase Project. Additionally, our Service to the Armed Forces staff exchanged 957 emergency messages for U.S. military service personnel and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit
redcross.org/Alaska or visit us on Twitter at @redcrossak.

         ###

 

One Year Later- Thank You for Supporting the Red Cross Response to the Royal Suites Apartment Fire

children petting dogA year ago today, I stood in the Spenard Rec Center and watched about 15 elementary-aged children whiz back and forth on roller boards. They looked like any other group of kids getting some indoor exercise on a cold Anchorage morning.
The wheel boards came to a halt when a Red Cross volunteer and her therapy dog entered the gym. The kids gathered around the pup, eager to have a turn to pet. As they formed a semi-circle and calmly played with their new furry friend, the tragedy they just faced began to unfold.
The children talked to the puppy about how they had to jump out of their window that morning because their home was on fire. They described how cold the snow was with only socks on their feet. They talked about how fast they had to get out and how scared they were. The dog’s handler nodded and listened, not saying much, but asked a few opened ended questions to allow the children to grieve.
This week marks the one-year anniversary of the Royal Suites 30-plex apartment fire in the Spenard area. I’d like to say thank you to our community for coming together to support our response efforts that morning.
Because of your generous support, those kids had a warm place to go after losing everything. They had a safe place to sleep with their families. They had toiletries and a warm shower. The school bus picked them up from the Red Cross shelter at the Spenard Rec Center, so they stayed on schedule with their regular daily routine. When they came home to the shelter they had pasta for dinner.
Immediate needs vary for everyone after a disaster. For one person that meant replacing prescription medicines he needed right away. For another it meant new eyeglasses. For many it meant a hug and a friendly person to tell them what they should do next.
Because of your generosity, more than 60 individuals had their immediate needs met when they lost everything and had nowhere to turn. This is your generosity in action and YOU made this help possible.
The Red Cross of Alaska continues to respond on average almost daily to home fires and to help those whose lives have been turned upside down by disaster. Our work is 365 days per year, 24 hours a day.
We could never do it without you.
Sincerely,
Lisa Miller, Red Cross of Alaska chief development officer

Red Cross Helps 46 Alaskans in the Month of December

RedCross AK image

The American Red Cross of Alaska responds to calls for assistance, on average, almost once a day state-wide. In December, 46 people were assisted; of those assisted, at least 5 were children under the age of 18.  Including, 10 who were listed as young children (0-5).

VOLUNTEERS, all across the state, give up their free time to make this amount of help in their communities possible.

Breakdown of service by area:

Anchorage: 22 individuals received aid.

North Pole: 2 individuals received aid.

Talkeetna: 2 individuals received aid.

Delta Junction: 4 individuals received aid.

Quinhagak: 4 individuals received aid.

Palmer: 2 individual received aid.

Wasilla: 7 individuals received aid.

Juneau: 2 individuals received aid.

Homer: 1 individuals received aid.

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Earthquake and tsunami safety tips from the Red Cross of Alaska

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The American Red Cross of Alaska was ready and prepared to respond following last night’s 7.9 earthquake that occurred 175 miles southeast of Kodiak and the (lifted) tsunami warning for the coastal areas of British Columbia and Alaska. Our disaster staff and volunteers monitored the situation closely, should we have been called upon to assist residents across the state.

The Red Cross of Alaska would like to remind residents of the importance of being informed and prepared for earthquakes and tsunamis.

Some top tips to keep in mind:

Earthquakes:

  • Remember: Drop, cover and hold.
    • If you are inside when the shaking starts, drop, cover and hold onto something sturdy.
    • Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit.
  • Download the Red Cross Earthquake app to learn more and get information about building an emergency kit. The free Emergency App is available in app stores for smartphones and tablets by searching for the American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/apps.

Tsunamis:

  • Find out if your home, school, workplace or other frequently visited locations are in tsunami hazard areas.
  • If you are in a coastal area and feel an earthquake that lasts 20 seconds or longer:
    • Drop, cover and hold on. You should first protect yourself from the earthquake.
    • When the shaking stops, gather members of your household and move quickly to higher ground away from the coast. A tsunami may be coming within minutes.
  • What do I do after a tsunami?
    • Continue using a NOAA Weather Radio or tuning to a Coast Guard station or a local radio or television station for the latest updates.

Full earthquake safety checklist:

https://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m4240216_Earthquake.pdf

Full tsunami safety checklist:

http://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m4340167_Tsunami.pdf

Video:

Preparedness: Earthquake Safety – Drop, Cover and Hold On: