Meet the American Red Cross’ Hometown Heroes for 2015

The Red Cross honored 20 individuals and organizations Tuesday for aid — often lifesaving — they rendered in emergency situations across Southwest Idaho.

The Hometown Hero awards were handed out during a noon luncheon at the Riverside Hotel.

Listen to Boise Police Detective Mike Miraglia — one of the honorees — speak about sex trafficking in the Treasure Valley. (Video by the Statesman’s Grace Gibney.)

Here are the recipients and the actions that earned them recognition, as described by the Red Cross in a press release:

Youth Heroes: Noail Isho, Melody Suite, Brooke Megien.

“The staff members of the Downtown YMCA in Boise have at least one thing in common: they all know how to save lives. This past fall, a team of three young staffers, Noail Isho, Melody Suite, Brooke Meglen, all between 17 and 18 years old, used their training to save Kaj Kolding’s life after he suffered ventricular fibrillation due a blocked artery. When the three youths were alerted that a member had collapsed on the floor in the cardio room, and that other staff members were administering CPR, the three grabbed the AED and administered a shock that helped save Kaj’s life. Kaj is profoundly grateful for the outstanding teamwork of the Y staff, and upon release from the hospital headed to the Y to personally meet and thank the incredible individuals who saved his life.”

Animal Rescue Hero: Middleton Fire Department.

“When someone yells fire, the Middleton Fire Department is always there to answer the call. During a recent incident, however, they were in for a surprise. After putting out a fire in an empty house, the firefighters were surprised to hear loud cries of ‘help’ and ‘fire’ from inside the building. Running back inside, the crew traced the calls, not to a couple of humans, but to two pet parrots who were trapped in the smoking building! Carrying them to safety, the crew fitted the ailing birds with oxygen masks, after which they quickly recovered. Clearly, the goal of Middleton Fire Department is to save every life, including those of cherished pets.”

Fire Safety Hero: Boise Fire Department.

“One Monday morning in February, just before 1 a.m., the Boise Fire Department was alerted to a fire in a duplex on Collister Drive. While two of the three residents had managed to evacuate safely, the flames had trapped a woman named Anna inside the home. Engine 9 was the first to arrive on scene and quickly realized the need for imminent rescue, but had the discipline to attack the fire and assign the rescue to Engine 16, the second arriving engine. This turned out to be a wise decision as Engine 16 was unable to isolate the bedroom from the fire when the bedroom door would not close. As firefighters advanced a hose line to knock down the flames, other crew members entered the home through a bedroom window. They quickly secured Anna and pulled her through the window out to safety. Although Anna suffered severe burns to her face, neck, and back, she survived because of the courageous action of these firefighters, who risked their own lives to save hers.”

Law Enforcement Heroes: Mike Miraglia, Tim Brady.

“Detectives Mike Miraglia and Tim Brady of the Boise Police Department understand that saving a life sometimes goes beyond a single lifesaving event. Their long-term commitment to investigating human trafficking led to the 2014 rescue of a woman and a 15 year old girl who had been coerced into prostitution by a local sex trafficking ring, saving them from a life of prostitution and extreme emotional and physical abuse. The detectives’ work also has resulted in establishing vital lifelines of support and awareness that will ensure that many more victims of human trafficking will be rescued from a life in prostitution and that many more will be spared from being victimized in the first place.”

Military Heroes: Jason Aaron, Stephen Young, Frankie Hearn, Krystal Pearson, Violet Zeimet, Gabriel Marshman.

“It was a calm morning at the Mountain Air Force base hangar where AIC Saul Vasquez and the rest of his Equipment Maintenance Squadron were performing an inspection of an F15-E airplane. Vasquez lost his footing while standing on a piece of equipment and, in his struggle to regain balance, cut his left arm on a clamp, severing the radial artery below his elbow. His crewmates Jason Aaron, Stephen Young, and Frankie Hearn flew into action to initiate first aid and call 911. Krystal Pearson and Violet Zeimet jumped in to help load Vasquez into a truck, rushing him to the Urgent Care Center. The team had succeeded in slowing the bleeding, and then assisted the UCC staff by keeping Vasquez calm, maintaining pressure on the wound, and monitoring his vital signs. Thanks to his crew’s quick actions and teamwork, Vasquez survived.

“When a family of four young children and three adults didn’t come home one cold night in April, Gabriel Marshman of the Aerospace Medicine Squadron at the Mountain Home Air Force Base nswered the call. Within an hour’s notice, he and a group of volunteers set up a command post at the family’s last known location and strung out along miles of mountain roads, campsites and rails to find them. Three hours later, Gabriel and his crew found the family, their car stuck in a snow bank on a deserted road. They were cold and hungry, but healthy and extremely grateful. Thanks to Gabriel’s swift and effective leadership, the family and the rescue workers were able to return to the warmth and safety of their home, unharmed.”

Water Safety Hero: YMCA staff.

“Last August, 63 year old Douglas Borah had just finished a water aerobics class at the Treasure Valley Family YMCA and was resting in the lobby before heading home. Suddenly, Doug became unconscious, fell out of his chair, and hit his head. The YMCA staff quickly responded and established that Doug’s his breathing and pulse had stopped. The staff was able to revive Douglas with several rounds of CPR and AED administration, and he was conscious and responsive when he was transported by the Emergency Medical Service to the hospital.”

Medical Hero: Chris Shandera.

“Those nominating Chris Shandera describe him as a man who is always on his A game, a paramedic whose excellence and passion for his work have a positive influence those around him. Chris knows that at any moment, his decisions can make the difference between life and death for those who depend on him, and he takes this responsibility very seriously. This responsibility took on a very personal dimension one night in May of 2014 when Chris discovered that a medical response in a parking lot involved a friend’s father, who had collapsed after suffering a heart attack and a traumatic brain injury. Tim had no heartbeat when Chris first took his vital signs, but Chris acted with calm, skill and precision to revive Tim and get him to St. Alphonsus hospital. Tim spent the next two weeks in and out of coma, but thanks to Chris’s lifesaving care, he not only survived the incident, but regained full function within two months. According to those who nominated Chris, where Chris goes, life-changing miracles happen, which to them is the very definition of a hero.”

Workplace Hero: Kelly Hoffman.

“In May 2013, Kelly Hoffman was visiting with the manager of a motorcycle store in Caldwell when one of the store’s workers burst into the office and yelling to call 911. A salesman in their back storage lot had had an accident and was dying. Kelly followed the manager to find the salesman unconscious on the ground and bleeding badly. The man had accidentally accelerated while putting away the store’s four wheelers into storage, and had crashed into a concrete wall. He had hit his face on the corner of a concrete block, right between his eyes, and had suffered severe head trauma. Kelly immediately assessed the victim for broken bones and other injuries and managed to revive him without CPR. With EMTs on the way, Kelly talked to the man to keep him calm while he controlled the bleeding with a seat cover. When the EMTs arrived, Kelly helped load the man into the ambulance, hoping that he would survive. He did. After undergoing extensive facial surgery, the man thanked Kelly in person for saving his life.”

Search and Rescue Cross Hero: Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue.

“When three snowmobilers went missing near Mores Creek summit this past winter, the Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue team quickly took the lead to find them. Fanning out on foot, on skis, and on snowmobiles, a team of 22 responders worked for a day to find the two first snowmobilers, alive and well. They continued searching for another two arduous days to find the third snowmobiler, also in relatively good condition. Although one of the rescued suffered hypothermia, all snowmobilers quickly recovered from their ordeal. Between the crew’s active role in search and rescue missions and their continued efforts to teach mountain safety awareness, Idahoans can rest assured that the IMSR has their safety foremost in mind, and that it will be do everything it can to bring them to safety should they get lost in the backcountry.”

Blood Donor Heroes: Arma Jo Zimmerman, Trish Chadez-Whitney.

“Arma Jo Zimmerman is committed to doing her share to collect lifesaving blood for the Red Cross. As a volunteer organizer, she works with 3 sponsors groups each year, coordinating 13 blood drives each year: 5 in Nampa, 4 at the Karcher Mall, and 4 at the LDS Nampa West Stake. Arma is always happy, upbeat, and dedicated, and has not missed a blood drive in spite of having had surgey and taking care of her aging mother. She also helped her grandson sponsor a blood drive which earned him an Eagle Scout badge. Since April 2013, Arma helped collect 1,350 pints of blood, which has earned her this special citation for excellent volunteer service.

“Trish Chadez-Whitney is another outstanding volunteer who has earned a special citation for exceptional volunteer service. Trish has been a blood donor coordinator for the past 15 years and stands out for her enthusiasm and her continuous efforts and ability to recruit donors. Her commitment to our cause is infectious, and helps keep everyone motivated, including Red Cross staff. Trish too conducts 12 blood drives every year and would like to ramp up to 15. It is the hard work and commitment of volunteers like Trish that are at the very heart of our organization’s success.”

Spirit of the Red Cross Hero: Diana Ochsner.

“Diana Ochsner was heading to Idaho City on interstate 84 when a motorcyclist in front of her lost control and crashed. The rider flipped three times in the air, landed in the median, and slid face down along the roadway before he stopped. As Diana ran to him, her first aid training took over. She checked his pulse and found that the man was still alive. Knowing he had probably suffered a neck injury, and that he could not be moved, Diana dug a small hole in the ground by the man’s mouth to help him breathe. When a state trooper on scene, they reached the man’s wife on the phone, and Diana put the phone it against his ear. In spite of the injuries to his face and the bleeding from his mouth, Diana could see tears falling from the man’s eyes, indicating that he was still responsive. Diana worked with the paramedics for more than an hour to prepare the victim for transport, and then drove to the hospital to meet with the man’s wife. From there, the man was airlifted to the trauma center in Boise, where he survived.”