American Red Cross of NEPA Announces 2017 Hero Awards

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WILKES-BARRE — The American Red Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania is celebrating 100 years, and in doing so, hosting a banquet to honor local heroes right in our own backyards.

According to the press release, the annual event honors both “trained heroes together with Good Samaritans, as nominated by their peers and the community.” Award categories include Good Samaritan, Law Enforcement, Firefighter, Medical, and Animal Rescue.

The 2017 Hero Award Winners are listed below:

Thomas Zoshak – Good Samaritan Hero, Freeland
Daniel McCoy – Good Samaritan Hero, Freeland
John Gera – Good Samaritan Hero, Freeland
Paul Malloy- Firefighter Hero, Freeland
Ken Parsons – Firefighter Hero, Freeland
Audrey Stepansky – Firefighter Hero, Freeland
During a morning call for a fire in Freeland, where a person was trapped, a fire crew and three brave civilians stepped up to save a life. When firefighters arrived they found three civilians were trying to rescue a person trapped on the upper floor of the home. A crew of three firefighters and three Good Samaritans helped perform the rescue. The Good Samaritans worked together to back a truck against the burning building and hoist a ladder up the side of the home to get the trapped person down as rescue crews arrived. Firefighters helped the three Good Samaritans complete the rescue and went to work controlling the fire. It took a total team effort to save the person’s life.

Cassandra Thomas – Medical Hero, Hazle Township
While vacationing in Florida, Cassandra Thomas, an RN from Hazle Township who works at Janet Weis Children’s Hospital, made a lifesaving rescue. Cassandra and her family were at the beach when a storm hit. Lightning struck the beach leaving two boys injured. Cassandra immediately put herself in danger to check on the condition of boys. She raced down 16 flights of stairs. When she got to the beach she found that one of the boys had no pulse. She then performed CPR along with another gentleman and they were able to regain a pulse while waiting for paramedics to arrive.

Patrolman George Brazdzionis III – Law Enforcement Hero, Duryea
Patrolman Charles Swisher – Law Enforcement Hero, Duryea
Two police officers from Duryea Borough saved a man’s life in last August. The two officers found a citizen that had overdosed and was unconscious with no pulse. The officers acted quickly, performing CPR and were able to regain a pulse while awaiting paramedics. The two officers credit their training for their immediate reaction, which saved the man’s life. The man was taken by paramedics and able to receive treatment due to the heroic act that day by patrolmen George Brazdzionis III and Charles Swisher.

Esmarlin Rumaldo – Good Samaritan Hero, Hazleton
Esmarlin Rumaldo was at home with her younger brother when a parent’s biggest fear happened. Her younger brother had a toy lodged in his throat, blocking his airway. She quickly performed an abdominal thrust and dislodged the toy, allowing for her brother to breathe again. Although she was scared during the situation her recent training during a First Aid class offered at the Hazleton Area Career Center prepared her for this situation.

Madeline Dworak – Good Samaritan Hero, Pittston
During her front desk shift at the Pittston YMCA, Madeline Dworak became a lifesaving hero. Madeline was alerted that a member of the YMCA was in distress and appeared to be having a heart attack. She immediately rushed to his side and began performing CPR once she realized he was no longer breathing. Madeline continued to perform CPR for eight minutes while waiting for paramedics. Madeline showed great courage and confidence in her quick decision that resulted in saving the man’s life. Madeline Dworak received her CPR training from the American Red Cross in 2015.

Chief Tim Trently – Law Enforcement Hero, Archbald
Patrolman Brian Munley – Law Enforcement Hero, Archbald
While already serving on the Archbald police force, Police Chief Tim Trently and patrolman Brian Munley now double as baby deliverers. When responding to a medical call, the officers approached the home and were quickly called upstairs to find a woman getting ready to give birth to a new baby. The two acted quickly and helped safely deliver the baby girl, while also assuring the new mother’s health. And this isn’t Chief Trently’s first time. This is actually the third baby he has delivered in nearly 30 years on the job. And two years ago these same two officers helped save a little boy from choking.

Officer John Mendygral – Law Enforcement Hero, Dallas Township
Dallas Township Police Officer John Mendygral responded to a burglary in progress at Fino’s Pharmacy. As every police officer knows, coming across any serious crime in progress can be a life-threatening situation for officers, the suspect and anyone who happens to be nearby. Officer John Mendygral successfully apprehended the felon without incident, keeping fellow officers and the community safe.

Officer Taylor Dunn – Law Enforcement Hero, Dallas Township
Officer Michael Kretchmer – Law Enforcement Hero, Dallas Borough
In response to a recent call, Dallas Township and Dallas Borough police officers Taylor Dunn and Michael Kretchmer saved the lives of two individuals suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. The officers entered the home and successfully got the nearly unconscious victims out just in time. They also got them the medical attention needed to assure their safety and recovery. After confirming the victims’ safety, they reentered the home and were able to also rescue the victims’ dog that was also in the house at the time of the CO poisoning.

Officer Eric Eramo – Law Enforcement Hero, West Pittston
West Pittston Police Officer Eric Eramo went above and beyond the call of duty, and saved a distressed man from jumping off the Water Street Bridge. Officer Eramo used all of his previous experience and training in order to get this man to safety, and protect him from what seemed like the inevitable when he first arrived on the scene. Eramo first attempted to talk the man down off the bridge. Eramo worked to get to know the man and used that to calm him down in order to get him to a better place. But once he realized the severity of the situation, Eramo quickly grabbed the man and pulled him back to safety. The man calls Eramo a hero and his “guardian angel.”

State Police Corporal Jere Ustonofski, Law Enforcement Hero, Sugarloaf
After receiving a missing person’s report during a winter storm, police and rescue crews worked all day to locate a man on who was last believed to be on Interstate 81. PA State Police Corporal Jere Ustonofski worked to ping the missing person’s cell phone, and was able to get a general location. After an all-day search Corporal Ustonofski continued to travel Interstate 81 looking for any clues of where the man might have gone off the road. As darkness fell he discovered a faded set of tire tracks in the snow that led off of the road, followed them and found the car and the man that was trapped inside. The officer immediately contacted other rescue teams and worked to get the man to safety after 10 hours in the cold. Had it not been for Ustonofski’s persistence, the man likely would not have survived the night.

Richard Nardone, Animal Rescue Hero, Wapwallopen
Pilot Richard Nardone of Wapwallopen uses his six-seat twin engine plane to rescue large numbers of canines in the south that are being put in kill shelters. This is due to over-breeding and scarce neutering and spaying regulations in many southern states. The group that Nardone works with is called Pilots N Paws, a rescue group that coordinates these trips in order to rescue dogs. Nardone joined the group back in 2000 and since has flown over 600 dogs to safety. After he rescues the dogs, he works with the rescue group as well as local SPCAs to set up adoption events for the various dogs.