Myli Maytrichith, 12, and little brother Tyson, 4, stand outside their Everett home that is currently being rebuilt after it caught fire last March. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Myli Maytrichith, 12, and little brother Tyson, 4, stand outside their Everett home that is currently being rebuilt after it caught fire last March. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

4 near-tragedies that were averted by these Red Cross Heroes

In addition, a prolific pandemic mask maker and a disaster site volunteer were honored Dec. 10.

Myli Maytrichith was just 11 when her courage and quick thinking kept a fire in her Everett home from becoming a family tragedy.

“We’re very blessed to have everyone get out safe,” said Myli’s mother, Vepe Maytrichith, as her daughter and 4-year-old son Tyson told the story Thursday afternoon outside their Eastmont area home. During the fire, little Tyson was found by Myli in an upstairs bedroom.

The children’s parents had gone for a quick workout at LA Fitness at the nearby Everett Mall on the morning of March 14. Their three children were at the home with grandparents. Tyson has an older brother, 10-year-old Skyler, who made it outside with their grandfather.

“I started smelling smoke, and then once I went downstairs to check to see if anything was on I saw this, like, burst of fire going up from my little pot,” Myli recalled in a video presented earlier Thursday during the 25th Annual Heroes Breakfast. The cooking pot had been left on a stove burner, apparently by the children’s grandmother, their mother said.

The breakfast, a fundraiser for the American Red Cross serving Northwest Washington, was online this year because of the pandemic. The Red Cross chapter’s programs cover five counties: Snohomish, Island, Skagit, San Juan and Whatcom.

Myli, now 12, was recognized with a Youth Fire Rescue award, one of six honors presented during the virtual event.

Described in the video as a “young hero who saved her family,” Myli’s first reaction to what she saw in the kitchen was to run upstairs to her grandfather’s room, alerting him to the fire.

Her grandpa tried putting it out before he and the older boy ran outside.

That’s when Myli raced to her parents’ upstairs bedroom where she thought Tyson would be.

“I knew where he was, he likes to stay in Mom’s room,” she said. At the time, Tyson was 3.

Myli discovered him on the corner of the bed.

“I couldn’t see him well, it was still darkish,” she said. “Then when I heard him crying, I just found him and then took him outside.”

It was Myli who called her parents at the gym. Her mom remembers the shock of that call, and seeing smoke from I-5 as they rushed home. Pulling up to the house, she saw “nothing but firefighter trucks” and soon knew the house was nearly destroyed.

“We lost everything. It was rough,” Maytrichith said.

On their quiet street, passersby now see a rebuilt home that just needs finishing touches before the family can move back in. The Red Cross helped initially with vouchers for shelter, food and clothing. Maytrichith said the home was covered by insurance.

The family is now staying in a rental as the older children attend school online. Myli is a student at Everett’s Eisenhower Middle School. They hope to move home by March 1.

Kathy Kennard, a longtime Red Cross volunteer who has been part of a fire response team, said Myli did what she was supposed to do by alerting an adult, staying calm and quickly finding Tyson.

“Everyone’s OK because of Myli, because she knew what to do,” the girl’s mother said in the Red Cross video. “If she didn’t know what to do, I could not imagine.”

Five other awards were presented.

Dave Burdyshaw, a fire captain at Naval Station Everett, received the Red Cross Good Samaritan award. (American Red Cross)

Dave Burdyshaw, a fire captain at Naval Station Everett, received the Red Cross Good Samaritan award. (American Red Cross)

Good Samaritan: Dave Burdyshaw

They were both headed to work. Dave Burdyshaw is a fire captain, a civilian Department of Defense employee who works at Naval Station Everett. Byron Fellstrom was riding his bike from Mountlake Terrace to his job near the Boeing plant.

On that early morning in August 2019, Burdyshaw had just stopped at a supermarket to get food before his 48-hour shift. He saw a bicyclist down in the intersection of Beverly Park Road and Highway 525, the Mukilteo Speedway. Burdyshaw, 50, thought a car had hit the man — but no, Fellstrom’s heart had stopped and he hit the ground.

In peak morning traffic, Burdyshaw used his truck to block the intersection. Another driver also stopped and called 911. When they saw that Fellstrom was turning blue, Burdyshaw and two others took turns doing chest compressions until help arrived. Fellstrom’s heart stopped two more times on the way to the hospital.

Fellstrom, Burdyshaw said, had a heart condition he may not have known about.

Last month, the bicyclist’s mother, Kathy Fellstrom, was able to meet the man who saved her son’s life. Burdyshaw and Byron Fellstrom got together too. “Dave did what he had to do, and I have Byron,” she said in a video shown during the Red Cross event.

“I’m glad that I was there at the right time, so we could save him,” Burdyshaw said.

Aly Neely received the Red Cross Workplace CPR Rescue award. (American Red Cross)

Aly Neely received the Red Cross Workplace CPR Rescue award. (American Red Cross)

Workplace CPR Rescue: Aly Neely

Aly Neely has worked 12 years at a McDonald’s in Bellingham. The 29-year-old, now the restaurant’s general manager, had never had a work day like the one she experienced in March. She came to the aid of a stranger in real trouble.

“I couldn’t watch someone die,” said Neely, whose quick action saved a man who had overdosed.

Mask-wearing had just been implemented as she and her crew served customers that busy morning. Someone ran in to say a man was down in the parking lot. Neely ran out and saw the seemingly lifeless man. Another person was on a phone calling for help. She checked for a heartbeat, but found none, and saw that he had turned purple.

She gave him two rescue breaths, then 30 chest compressions. Detecting a slight pulse, she continued rescue breathing until help arrived.

In a video shown at the Red Cross event, Marie Bussard, a paramedic with the Bellingham Fire Department, said that while it’s not unusual for people to call for help in such a situation, “to actually be doing CPR on somebody that’s an overdose and not know them — we don’t see that very often.”

Neely said she was well prepared because of CPR and first aid training required by McDonald’s and by previous classes she took as a babysitter. Despite the pandemic, Neely said she didn’t hesitate over concerns about her own safety.

She learned the man made a full recovery at the hospital that day, but is unaware of whether the close call has meant changes in his life.

“I don’t even know his name,” she said.

Deb Phelps received the Red Cross Outstanding Volunteer award. (American Red Cross)

Deb Phelps received the Red Cross Outstanding Volunteer award. (American Red Cross)

Outstanding Volunteer: Deb Phelps

At 67, Deb Phelps is retired from her work as a nurse-midwife with Kaiser Permanente. Still, the Bothell woman is busier than ever. Now a Red Cross volunteer, since 2018 she has been deployed 11 times to disaster sites.

It all began in 2017 when her daughter, who lives in San Francisco, called to share news about devastating California fires. Before Phelps ever took a Red Cross class, she had packed a medical bag and headed to Santa Rosa, California. There, she helped at a shelter serving people affected by the fires.

Now officially with the Red Cross, her deployments have included Texas in the aftermath of flooding, Southern California in an earthquake response, Delaware after an East Coast hurricane, and in our own state helping as wildfires threatened the Brewster area.

Even closer to home, this month she has been at a COVID-19 quarantine site at the Snohomish County Fairgrounds in Monroe.

“I’m always ready to go,” Phelps said. “I keep my medical bag in the trunk.”

“It doesn’t matter what needs to to be done, she does it,” said Jamie Gravelle, a Red Cross disaster program manager, in a video shown during Thursday’s event. “I just wish I could clone her,” Gravelle said.

Kymy Johnson of the Whidbey DIYers received the Red Cross Claire Waite Humanitarian Award for making masks. (American Red Cross).

Kymy Johnson of the Whidbey DIYers received the Red Cross Claire Waite Humanitarian Award for making masks. (American Red Cross).

Claire Waite Humanitarian Award: Kymy Johnson

Masks, masks and more masks have been made on Whidbey Island by the Whidbey DIYers. The grassroots do-it-yourself group is organized by Langley’s Kymy Johnson, 36, who is among its founders.

It was launched via Facebook, and now has a website,, with the motto “Helping our community one mask at a time.”

To date, the group has given out more than 35,000 cloth masks and raised more than $24,000 for food banks on the island. Johnson said masks have been provided to first responders, care facility staff, essential workers, military members at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, and schools looking ahead to when students return. Many receiving the masks have donated to tip jars, resulting in the financial help for food banks.

Mask makers bring their finished products to several drop boxes on the island.

“We’ve had over 120 community volunteers,” said Johnson, whose grandmother taught her to sew as a child. Not all of the helpers do sewing. Some help by cutting patterns, and “we’ve had husbands using tweezers to pull strings through masks,” she said.

Jeb Helsinger received the Red Cross House Fire Rescue award. (American Red Cross)

Jeb Helsinger received the Red Cross House Fire Rescue award. (American Red Cross)

Home Fire Rescue: Jeb Hilsinger

Jeb Hilsinger asked a 6-year-old boy to drop his toddler sister from a second-floor window. That seemingly outrageous command was actually a lifesaver.

In mid-June, the 35-year-old Hilsinger was driving home to Sedro-Woolley from his job with an Arlington aerospace company. Along Highway 9, near the Lake McMurray Store, he saw heavy smoke coming from a two-story detached garage. Something, he said, compelled him to pull off the highway and check it out. In the garage’s upstairs window, he saw a little boy’s face.

Telling the child to stay by the window, Hilsinger went around back. He saw flames leaping up the side of the building, and couldn’t get up the stairs. Rushing back below the window, he said, “Drop your sister!” After catching the little girl, he told the boy to jump — and caught him too.

“These children were literally minutes from death,” Matthew Stratton, a commissioner with Skagit County Fire District 3, told the Red Cross. Their mother was right next door, and hadn’t known anything was burning.

The boy later said he’d just done what a fireman told him to do. Hilsinger isn’t a firefighter — but he did arrive in his big red truck.

“I’m real glad I was there,” Hilsinger said. “It could have turned out worse, that’s for sure.”

Julie Muhlstein:

Watch the heroes

The American Red Cross serving Northwest Washington covers five counties: Snohomish, Island, Skagit, San Juan and Whatcom. Due to the the pandemic, the organization’s 25th Annual Heroes Breakfast on Thursday was a virtual event.

The Red Cross provides food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support and other help during disasters. About 40% of the nation’s supply of blood and blood products is provided through Red Cross drives. The organization conducts CPR training, installs smoke alarms and serves military members, veterans and their families.

As of Friday, $170,996 had been raised through the Heroes Breakfast.

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