Local heroes

Red Cross honors selfless Snohomish County residents and volunteers who make a difference

By Jim Haley

Herald Writer

EVERETT — There was a new definition of the word "hero" Tuesday morning when people who made a difference in Snohomish County were honored for lifesaving and other accomplishments at the sixth annual Snohomish County chapter of the American Red Cross "Real Heroes Breakfast."

Not only were 10 awards given out to members of the community, but the Red Cross also recognized 19 of its own volunteers who responded to help in the aftermath of the East Coast terrorist attacks.

Red Cross volunteers fanned out to the Pentagon, Pennsylvania and New York to counsel the victims and their families, and to help with food, shelter, communications and other facets of recovery.

From around here, heroes of various ages and occupations were recognized for all kinds of acts.

There was Cameron Stein, 10, of Everett, who in August spotted a 2-year-old girl at the bottom of Silver Lake, pulled the child to the surface and called for the help of the Everett Park and Recreation lifeguards. The lifeguard staff administered first aid and summoned paramedic help.

The child survived without any apparent aftereffects.

Rachel Gordon, Pat Simmons, Kate Barbee, Sam Bray, Jason Heron, Andraya Bustad and Graham Reichmann were lifeguard staff members who also were honored.

There are other heroic stories, too.

Among them, the tale of a Lake Stevens school district teacher who has worked tirelessly to collect money to install life-saving devices in schools there, and a Naval Station Everett petty officer who used his life-saving training to save a severely injured 16-year-old boy.

There’s a 12-year-old North Lake Middle School student who performed the Heimlich maneuver on a companion to expel a piece of candy that lodged in his throat, and an Everett resident who rallied her neighbors to make her neighborhood safer.

Police, a firefighter and citizens who stepped in to make sure there’s an animal shelter in north Snohomish County also were honored.

Heroism, service to others mark Red Cross honorees

Here are the stories of local heroes honored Tuesday by the American Red Cross.

Andrew E. Speier, an Edmonds firefighter, was particularly taken with the events of Sept. 11. Many had an impulse to act, but Speier had more purpose than most.

With the permission of his fire chief, he returned to his native New York and to the home of his original fire department to look for firefighter friends who answered the call during the terrorist attacks and never returned. He took leave of his duties in Edmonds to “go find his friends,” as he put it.

During his career, Speier received the New York Fire Department medal for heroism when he rescued a seriously injured firefighter.

When Heather Currie of Edmonds saw a serious two-car accident July 4 on Highway 525, she didn’t hesitate to stop and help.

The 18-year-old helped police and aid workers by translating for one of the trapped occupants, who spoke only Spanish, as the woman was removed from the smashed car.

She broke down the language barrier by reassuring the victim and helping the rescuers learn about the woman’s injuries.

Currie used language skills she learned while attending Edmonds-Woodway High School.

A portable defibrillator can be a lifesaving tool when a person slips into cardiac arrest. Pat Cook has been working constantly for the last year raising money to buy the devices for the Lake Stevens School District, where he works as a middle school teacher.

In October, Cook presented the district with its first defibrillator. His goal is to see to it that the devices are located in each school within the district.

He never thought he would have to put his emergency medical technician training to use so soon. Petty Officer 1st Class Jon Sommers, who is stationed at Naval Station Everett, used it on May 26 near Twin Falls east of Granite Falls when a 16-year-old boy fell over a waterfall while hiking. The boy was seriously injured.

Sommers, a Marysville resident, stabilized the young man and kept him still, possibly preventing a serious spine injury or even death. The young hiker recovered.

“The guy saved the use of my legs, if not my life,” said the victim, Chris Gillard of Marysville.

The three members of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office distinguished themselves in the city of Gold Bar. Jeff Brand is the city police chief, and he was aided by deputies Ryan Gausman and Danny Pitocco.

The officers are contracted to provide policing services to the city. The familiarity they have been able to develop with the more than 2,000 Gold Bar residents has resulted in a lower crime rate and also growth in other “quality of life” issues.

Some girls at North Lake Middle School in Lake Stevens may have changed their minds about the deportment of sixth grade boys, particularly William Smith.

Smith, a 12-year-old Boy Scout, did something one morning in April to impress all doubters.

A classmate began eating candy and apparently swallowed a Gummy Worm whole. It lodged in his throat and William sprung into action.

He preformed the Heimlich maneuver, pressing on the classmate’s abdomen to dislodge the Gummy Worm.

When the city of Arlington closed its animal shelter almost two years ago, Wanda Johnson and Joanne Kikel led a large number of volunteers who saw a need to restore animal care in that part of the county.

With the help of others, they established the Shelter Arms Animal Sheltering of North County, a private, nonprofit entity.

The women accepted the award, but gave credit to many others who volunteer time and effort to the organization.

When Julie Teigen’s peaceful and friendly neighborhood went to pot all of a sudden, she rebelled. All it took was a couple of neighbors to cause problems with late-night parties and dogs running loose.

She went to Everett City Hall and police. In addition she offered to take an active part in organizing her neighborhood to make it peaceful and safe once again.

Marysville resident Matt Bayley was on his route Aug. 21 delivering drinking water. He didn’t think he would have to use skills learned in a recently completed cardiopulmonary resuscitation class so soon.

But he encountered a man who had collapsed and stopped breathing. He immediately began resuscitation and continued for 22 minutes until professional emergency medical technicians arrived.

You can call Herald Writer Jim Haley at 425-339-3447 or send

e-mail to haley@heraldnet.com.

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