Red Cross Congratulates Lifesaver Awards Breakfast Winners

By Heather Hicks, Communications Intern

The American Red Cross Greater St. Louis Region would once again like to congratulate the 3rd annual Lifesaver Awards Breakfast winners. Local lifesavers were awarded in ten categories at The Chase Park Plaza on March 13, 2014. The Red Cross honored individuals and groups for their courageous actions in saving the life of another.

Healthcare Professional Lifesaver Award Winner Rachel Solomon
Sponsored by: Ascension

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Early last spring Daisy Hudspeth was looking forward to her high school graduation and making plans for her future. Had it not been for the efforts of nurse Rachel Solomon, that future might look very different today.

While on her way to school one morning in April, Hudspeth was in a car accident near Clayton Road and Big Bend Boulevard in St. Louis County. With neck and back injuries, the student required immediate medical attention. Solomon, a cardiothoracic nurse at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, saw the accident and with no regard to the stormy weather and busy traffic, promptly came to Hudspeth’s aid. With smoke coming from the car, Solomon made the decision to pull the severely hurt and bleeding Hudspeth from the vehicle. Once out of the car, the nurse continued caring for the accident victimuntil the paramedics arrived.

Hudspeth’s father calls Solomon an angel, and hopes that one day his daughter will possess the same skill and character his daughter’s Lifesaver demonstrated that stormy morning. After the accident, he wrote a letter to the leaders of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, praising Solomon’s actions. They in turn nominated her for “The Daisy Award,” (ironically the name of the victim in this case) a national nursing award that recognizes “the super-human work nurses do for patients and families every day.” Solomon received “The Daisy Award” this past fall.

You can listen to Rachel and Daisy tell their story here:

Disaster Relief Lifesaver Award Winner MICDS Varsity Football Team
Sponsored by: Emerson

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The MICDS (Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School) Varsity Football Team is familiar with standing ovations. But this summer, when the team of more than 60 players arrived at the Multi-Agency Resource Center set up in Waynesville, Missouri, to address the needs of Pulaski County flood victims, the team could not have been more surprised when the people at the center stopped everything to cheer for them.

The players were moved by the display of gratitude. Late last summer, the team dedicated one of their final days of vacation to helping Red Cross flood relief efforts in mid-Missouri. The group of student athletes repaired a community park and helped restore a home by finding and retrieving an entire porch that had washed away. Team members also cleared debris from affected neighborhoods.

“I didn’t know it was going to be that bad,” said Stephen Valentine, senior and Varsity team captain. “But going there—seeing it in first person, seeing the destruction—it’s just an eye opener.” The Waynesville community is grateful to the team not only for the contributions to the relief effort, but also for their real concern. The students are a reflection of the school mission to lead lives of compassion, purpose and service.

“I think there is a kind of ripple effect when a group of people steps out and tries to make a difference in a community,” said Brian Trelstad, senior and Varsity team captain. “Hopefully this will show people what can be done and what is done when you step out of your comfort zone and help out.” The students appreciated the opportunity to make a difference as a team. “It sort of inspires us,” said William Schlafly, senior and Varsity team captain. “And I think it motivated a lot of people on our team to give back and do what they could in whatever way.”

“It was the first time I’d ever seen something like that,” said Alim Muhammad, senior and Varsity team captain. ”It was really eye opening and just made us want to contribute more to the relief there.” What began as an opportunity to build team unity is now much more. By helping the Waynesville community recover from severe summer flooding, the members of the MICDS Varsity Football Team are inspirational Lifesavers for so many.

You can listen to the MICDS Varsity Football Team tell their story here:

Good Samaritan Adult Lifesaver Award – Tony McWhorter
Sponsored by: St. Louis Area BP Station Owners

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Tony McWhorter has been hauling grain for Kent Elmore’s family farm in Illinois for many years. One October day, as he was finishing his load, tragedy struck. An auger accident severed part of Elmore’s leg. McWhorter did not see the accident, but when he heard Elmore’s call for help, he responded. The grain hauler immediately fashioned a tourniquet out of his belt and applied it to Elmore’s leg. Remaining calm, McWhorter radioed his company’s dispatcher to call 911 and then proceeded to monitor Elmore’s status. He applied pressure to control the blood loss and placed his coat over Elmore to keep him warm until emergency personnel arrived.

The Elmore family’s farm sits nearly 20 miles outside of the nearest town in southeastern Effingham County; McWhorter’s quick response undoubtedly saved Elmore’s life. A medical helicopter transported Elmore to St. Louis, who was in surgery within three hours. Needless to say, Elmore is grateful to McWhorter. Elmore considers himself lucky to have had the right people around to take care of him. “Every day is a blessing,” said Elmore. “Tony gave me a chance for another day.”

McWhorter does not think he did anything extraordinary. He says it was simply instinct and he is happy to be able to help. Not only is McWhorter a true Lifesaver because of his actions that day, but he went back to the farm to finish transporting grain and taking care of the family’s farm equipment.

You can listen to Tony and Kent tell their story here:

Firefighter Lifesaver Award Winner Steven Slemer
Sponsored by: Ekon Benefits

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Glen Carbon, Illinois, volunteer firefighter Steven Slemer had always regarded water as a lifesaving tool, but driving home one evening in August, he came upon an accident where water almost proved fatal. Slemer saw two bystanders looking down into a water-filled ditch and wondered if something was wrong. When he questioned them, they pointed out an overturned vehicle in the ditch. Slemer went down to the car and realized the driver was trapped inside, struggling to keep his head above water. With the water rapidly rising in the vehicle, Slemer knew he had to act quickly.

At one point, the water rose so much the victim’s head became fully submerged. Using a knife provided by a bystander, Slemer cut through the seatbelt, which allowed Slemer to reposition the victim’s head above the water. Bystanders and emergency personnel helped position the vehicle to allow for the victim to be rescued. A medical helicopter transported him to a St. Louis hospital for treatment.

The driver’s head had been completely submerged in water for nearly one minute, but thanks to Slemer’s courageous effort, he survived. The victim and Slemer have had a chance to meet, and he is grateful to Slemer for saving his life. Slemer, who has been involved in other rescues as a firefighter, is a real Lifesaver.

The Sons of the American Revolution, the local Board of police commissioners, and the Mitchell Fire Department also have recognized Slemer for his heroic actions.

You can listen to Steven tell his story here:

Military Lifesaver Award Winner Lieutenant Colonel Dan Reece
Sponsored by: Veterans Home Care


As a member of the Missouri Air National Guard, Lieutenant Colonel Dan Reece trains for emergencies, so early last December when he saw a large plume of smoke coming from an apartment building in South St. Louis County, he knew he had to act.

When Reece arrived on the scene of the fire, he did not see emergency response vehicles. Residents exiting the building told him that others were trapped inside. After telling a bystander to call 911, Reece tried to fight his way through thick smoke to find an unlocked door so he could enter the building. Finally, a door opened and he made his way inside.

With the help of a police officer who arrived on scene, Reece began coordinating efforts to rescue a woman in her bed. Using the bed sheets, Reece worked with others to carry her out. Reece is glad he was there to help the woman who was recovering from knee surgery. After getting her to safety, he made sure the other residents were cared for as well.

Even though Reece never had been in a fire situation before, he said he knew what to do because of his extensive military training. “The first step is to life safety, to try and save as many lives as we can,” he said. “And that’s what I tried to do.”

Reece does not see his actions as heroic. In fact, he does not see anything special about what he did. A love for people and community inspires Reece. ”It’s all about serving other people,” he said. “This is what we do in the National Guard. We serve the community as well as our nation.”

You can listen to Dan tell his story here:

Blood Services Lifesaver Award Winner The Hellebusch Family
Sponsored by: Anheuser-Busch

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Giving the gift of life—by donating blood—is an important family tradition for the Hellebusch family. Herbert Hellebusch, the family patriarch, started the tradition, donating more than 100 units of blood in his lifetime. To date, his family has donated more than 200 gallons of blood and blood products and assisted in the collection of an additional 130 gallons by holding and coordinating community blood drives.

One unit of blood can save up to three lives, and one gallon can save more than 20, which means the Hellebusch family potentially saved 6,600 lives. But the Hellebusch family does not believe they are doing anything heroic by donating blood. They were raised to do it. Francis Hellebusch, Herbert’s oldest son, donated blood for more than 40 years, giving more than 80 units overall until he was no longer able to give. His wife also donates blood and coordinates blood drives; their two children donate as well.

Several family members regularly donate whole blood and platelets. Some even donate double red blood cells, which allows the donor to safely give two units of red blood cells at one time. “People think it’s scary,” said Judy Hellebusch Mendenhall, who has been donating blood since she was 18-years-old. “It helps knowing that it’s a good thing that you’re doing.”

Ralph Hellebusch donates platelets twice a month and whole blood at least two or three times a year. As director of the Warren County Ambulance District, he sees the need for blood donation first hand. “When you donate, you don’t really think about it,” he said. “You’re just doing the job that needs to be done.”

You can listen to the Hellebusch family tell their story here:

Good Samaritan Youth Lifesaver Award Winner Jarrid Hamilton and Korde Rosa
Sponsored by: AAA

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Last August, Korde Rosa had never even used a car jack to change a tire, but one afternoon on his way to golf practice, the high school senior used it to save the life of a man pinned beneath a trailer.

Approaching an accident, Rosa responded quickly when he saw an SUV in the ditch and a flatbed trailer askew on the road. The 69-year-old man trapped under the trailer was still conscious. Rosa, quickly retrieved a jack from his car and attempted to free the trapped driver. As Rosa tried to raise the trailer, Jarrid Hamilton, another member of the Northwest High School golf team, stopped to help. Soon, a classmate’s father arrived on scene, and together the three of them rescued the man.

Neither of the boys have any special training for emergency situations, but both attribute their response to instinct and a desire to do the right thing.

“It was just a spur of the moment thing,” said Hamilton. “The guy needed help and I’m just glad we were there to help him. I don’t know what would’ve happened if we didn’t show up and no one came along.”

The man did not suffer from any life-threatening injuries. According to Rosa and Hamilton, he was back to doing yard work the next day when they drove past him on their way to golf practice once again.

Rosa received a Distinguished Citizens Service Award from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and a Meritorious Service Award from the Cedar Hill Fire Protection District. Both boys are reluctant to be called heroes, saying they did what anyone else would have. Regardless, their remarkable actions make them real Lifesavers.

You can listen to Jarrid and Korde tell their story here:

Law Enforcement Lifesaver Award Winner Detective Bret Carbray
Sponsored by: Drury Hotels Company

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Law enforcement officers often notice when things are out of the ordinary. When Detective Bret Carbray saw an undamaged car in the median as he was driving home from a youth baseball tournament in Branson, Missouri last May, he immediately knew something was wrong. When the officer pulled over, he discovered a man slumped over the steering wheel inside the car. With his wife and two children riding with him, the off-duty detective immediately pulled over to help.

When he got to the car, Detective Carbray found the driver, Craig Beeson, unresponsive. Detective Carbray’s wife noticed the sunroof was open; another bystander on the scene had already reached in to unlock the door. As his wife and children looked on, Detective Carbray pulled Beeson from the vehicle. Finding no pulse or signs of breathing, he began CPR. For nearly 15 minutes, Detective Carbray continued to perform CPR until another parent from the baseball team arrived and relieved him. Finally paramedics arrived.

Detective Carbray has been a member of the Lake Saint Louis Police Department for almost nine years. He does not think he is a hero. Beeson, who has since made a full recovery and remains in contact with Detective Carbray, does not agree. He thinks a hero is someone whose actions exceed what are expected, someone who does more than they are asked to do. Beeson says that describes Detective Carbray‘s actions that day. “If he hadn’t come along, I wouldn’t be here today,” said Beeson. “I’m grateful that he did.”

Detective Carbray truly is Beeson’s Lifesaver.

You can listen to Bret and Craig tell their story here:

Water Safety Lifesaver Award Winner Kali DeSherlia, Brody Hagen, and Sydney Brangenberg
Sponsored by: US Bank

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What began as a typical summer day at Donor Pool in Jerseyville, Illinois last August, quickly turned life threatening. Lifeguard Brody Hagen was sitting in the guard stand when he saw a 4-year-old boy at the bottom of the pool. Hagen immediately alerted fellow lifeguard Sydney Brangenberg. Hagen and Brangenberg jumped into the pool and brought the unresponsive boy to the surface. He was limp and turning blue. Kali DeSherlia, who was managing the pool that day, took control of the emergency. Using a combination of instinct and training, the three lifeguards worked together to begin CPR. By the time paramedics arrived, the boy was breathing and stable.

It was a terrifying situation, but the three veteran lifeguards agree that they were prepared and pleased they could do their jobs. “We did what we had to do,” said DeSherlia.

Hagen, Brangenberg and DeSherlia had been lifeguards at Donor Pool for many summers and are trained by the American Red Cross. The three said it was training, experience and instinct that allowed them to stay calm and respond appropriately to the dire situation. “If we didn’t have that training, he might not be here today,” said DeSherlia.

The three lifeguards received a commendation from the Jerseyville City Council, recognizing their lifesaving actions. They are proud of the job they did and want others to learn from their experience. Everyone should train to save a life. The three lifeguards are Lifesavers for one young boy and his family.

You can listen to Kali, Brody, and Sydney tell their story here:

Lifesaving Organization Lifesaver Award – Schnucks
Sponsored by: American Direct

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A regular trip to the Schnucks grocery store could have ended in tragedy, if not for the quick actions of some well trained employees.

While shopping at the Schnucks in High Ridge, Missouri, a man suddenly collapsed and struck the seafood case before he hit the floor. A Schnucks teammate and store manager immediately started to administer first aid. They determined he was unresponsive and immediately shouted for someone to call 911 and retrieve the Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

Two additional teammates jumped in to help. Together the group, using their Red Cross training and the store’s AED, administered a shock and worked with emergency responders to continue care. Later, an EMS official contacted the manager and shared how impressed he was with the store’s employees. Their quick action and trained response saved the shopper.

Schnucks Markets has equipped each of its 110 grocery stores in the Greater St. Louis area with an AED purchased through the American Red Cross, and nearly 1,200 Schnucks employees are Red Cross trained in CPR and AED.

Because they acted quickly and used their training properly, the employees of Schnucks are true Lifesavers.

You can listen to Schnucks employees tell their story here:

Thank you once again to the winners for being true Lifesavers.


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