Local Heroes are an Inspiration

Red Cross honors Acts of Courage Award winners

by Pat Worden

Heroes aren’t just found in mythology and action movies. A region like Northeast Ohio is full of them. And though each of us may have distinct definitions of the heroic, and we each have our particular set of heroes, organizations like the American Red Cross are dedicated to honoring what all of us can agree are acts of true heroism.

On March 1, the American Red Cross of Summit, Portage and Medina Counties presented the Acts of Courage Award to 12 local heroes who acted skillfully, decisively and with composure when called upon to help friends, neighbors and strangers in need.

The Acts of Courage Award cites six critical incidents in 2017, as examples of how things can go from the mundane to the terrifying in an instant — and to demonstrate how training, a calm head and a willingness to help can mean the difference between life and death. The Devil Strip is committed to recognizing our regional heroes, so over the next several issues we’ll look at each incident in detail. For now we’ll take this 10,000-foot view:

  • Blake Osborn who while hiking in the Gorge Metro Park located, treated and stabilized a severely injured fall victim, and helped direct the river-borne extraction effort;
  • Dr. John Bober and APD Officer Jason Strainer, who performed CPR and used an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) on a man who collapsed outside Dr. Bober’s South Main Street office;
  • Eathan Cobbin, a Brown Middle School 8th grader, who learned the Heimlich Maneuver from a poster in his local Dairy Queen, and used it to save the life of his best friend, who began choking in the school cafeteria;
  • AFD Lt. Jeffrey Layne and APD Officer James Craft, who dove into the waters of Summit Lake to rescue the driver of an SUV who drove off a boat ramp and was rapidly sinking;
  • Wade Wooten, a 12-year military veteran with Naval firefighting experience, who jumped onto a second-floor balcony and entered a burning apartment to rescue his neighbor;
  • Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank employees Matt Petrick, Jennifer Dyer, Laura Deubel, Karen Sheppard and Dan Flowers, who rushed to the aid of a collapsed volunteer, administered CPR and applied three AED shocks to save his life.    

Without exception, each of the 12 honorees denies being a hero (we beg to differ). They all say they did what anyone with the training and preparation would have done in similar straits.

That’s a crucial point: training and preparation are key. Life changes on a dime, and emergencies are inherently unpredictable. You could be called upon to save a life before you finish reading this sentence. Would you be ready?

The Devil Strip urges all our friends and neighbors to get vital CPR, AED and First Aid training, by contacting either the American Red Cross (330-535-6131) or the American Heart Association (330-664-1930). It’s also imperative to prepare yourself psychologically to render assistance. Remember these three tips: 1) Always make sure the scene is safe and secure before you begin to help. You can’t save anyone if you become another victim. 2) Remain calm. If you need to, take a moment, breathe deep, count to three. Get your head in the game, think about what needs to be done, then do it. 3) Activate EMS. Dial 911 or have a bystander do it. Scream for help if necessary. The sooner the first responders arrive, the sooner you’ll be relieved (in every sense of the word).

The 12 local heroes cited above, and celebrated at length in coming issues of the Devil Strip, can and should be inspirations for us all. They prove that any of us are capable of handling emergencies and saving lives, if only we prepare ourselves. So let’s do just that.

(Photos courtesy of Clum Creative/American Red Cross of Summit, Portage and Medina Counties)


Patrick Worden (Akron) is a former EMT and emergency medical dispatcher.