Honorees set to be rec­og­nized for hero­ism

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Front Page - By Jonathan Tressler jtressler@news-her­ald.com @JTfromtheNH on Twit­ter

Four area res­i­dents are among a num­ber of North­east Ohioans be­ing her­alded as he­roes April 14 by the Cleve­land Chap­ter of the Amer­i­can Red Cross.

The Greater Cleve­land Chap­ter of the Amer­i­can Red Cross named Rus­sell

Town­ship res­i­dent Gil­bert DiSanto, Wil­low­ick Po­lice De­part­ment Pa­trol­man Christo­pher Olup and Sgt. Robert Proc­hazka, and Painesville res­i­dent Dana Walling among seven re­cip­i­ents of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s bi­en­nial Greater Cleve­land Hero Awards.

Jim McIntyre, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and mar­ket­ing man­ager for the Amer­i­can Red Cross North­east Ohio Re­gion, said the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s Hero Awards are “a long-stand­ing tra­di­tion for Red Cross chap­ters across the coun­try.”

“It’s im­por­tant for us to rec­og­nize and honor peo­ple who go above and be­yond to help save lives or im­prove the lives of oth­ers be­cause it’s in the spirit of the Red Cross mis­sion to pre­vent and al­le­vi­ate hu­man suf­fer­ing,” he said in a March 13 phone in­ter­view.

The 2018 Hero Awards, which ad­dress good deeds done in 2016 and 2017, will rec­og­nize the fol­low­ing Lake- and Geauga-County honorees:

• Rus­sell Town­ship res­i­dent Gilib­ert DiSanto, who works at Miceli’s Dairy on East 90th Street in Cleve­land and, ac­cord­ing to a Red Cross news re­lease, “was walk­ing across a pedes­trian bridge on the (Miceli’s) cam­pus one Sun­day morn­ing in Au­gust when he spot­ted a man ly­ing on the ground just off the plant’s prop­erty. He alerted se­cu­rity to call 911, then grabbed an au­to­mated ex­ter­nal de­fib­ril­la­tor and ran to the fallen man. There was no pulse. Mr. DiSanto went to work and a Cleve­land po­lice of­fi­cer who re­sponded and wit­nessed Mr. DiSanto per­form­ing chest com­pres­sions said: ‘Ac­tions like Mr. DiSanto’s are heroic, as he took it upon him­self to try and save the vic­tim in­stead of just look­ing the other way. We need this more from the com­mu­nity.’ An EMS su­per­vi­sor said Mr. DiSanto’s de­ci­sive ac­tion helped save the man’s life.”

• Pa­trol­man Christo­pher Olup and Sgt. Robert Proc­hazka with the Wil­low­ick Po­lice De­part­ment “were the first to ar­rive at the scene of a home fire on Lake Shore Boule­vard in April of 2016. Upon their ar­rival, they were im­me­di­ately told by a fran­tic woman out­side that her dis­abled hus­band was trapped in­side,” the Red Cross news re­lease reads. “Of­fi­cer Olup en­tered the smoke-filled home while Sgt. Proc­hazka re­trieved a flash­light from his car. The res­i­dent was on the floor, un­able to move. The smoke was too thick to make vis­ual con­tact, so of­fi­cer Olup called out to the man, even­tu­ally lo­cat­ing him. As he strug­gled to drag the man through the smoke, Sgt. Proc­hazka en­tered the home and as­sisted with the res­cue. Shortly af­ter reach­ing safety out­side, flames en­gulfed the en­tire first floor of the home and were leap­ing from the win­dows. Both Olup and Proc­hazka were treated for smoke in­hala­tion af­ter­wards. The res­i­dent was un­in­jured, thanks to the ex­tra­or­di­nary ef­forts of Of­fi­cer Olup and Sgt. Proc­hazka.”

Wil­low­ick Po­lice Chief Brian Turner said that, for the years this award cov­ers, there was no doubt in his mind whom he wanted to nom­i­nate.

“Ob­vi­ously we’re very proud of the ef­forts they ex­hib­ited in 2016 — en­ter­ing that house full of smoke and flames and pulling that gen­tle­man out,” Turner said in a March 13 phone in­ter­view. “We have a lot of of­fi­cers and dis­patch­ers here who do great things all the time. But that event was im­pres­sive. It was quite an ef­fort. That gen­tle­man would never have been able to re­move him­self from that house.”

• Painesville res­i­dent Dana Walling “was a cus­tomer at the Clas­sic BMW deal­er­ship in Wil­loughby Hills last Septem­ber and no­ticed an­other cus­tomer who ap­peared ag­i­tated. Po­lice were called, and they dis­cov­ered there was a war­rant for the cus­tomer’s ar­rest. As the two of­fi­cers who re­sponded be­gan to es­cort the man from the deal­er­ship, he broke away, pulled a gun, and be­gan to fire, wound­ing both of­fi­cers,” The Red Cross news re­lease states. “One of the of­fi­cers re­turned fire, and as the bul­lets flew, one whizzed by Dana, crash­ing through the wind­shield of a car he was stand­ing next to. In­stead of duck­ing for cover, Dana ran to help. One of the wounded of­fi­cers was strug­gling on the ground with the sus­pect, and Dana helped sub­due the gun­man by hand­cuff­ing him. Dana then stayed with the of­fi­cer, en­sur­ing the sus­pect was re­strained, un­til EMS and backup ar­rived. Po­lice credit Dana for his brav­ery, but he said he just did what any­one should do.”

In a March 13 phone in­ter­view, Walling, who works as a chem­i­cal op­er­a­tor at Lubri­zol’s Painesville Town­ship plant, said he was hon­ored and sur­prised af­ter learn­ing Plant Man­ager Craig Hupp nom­i­nated him for the honor.

“Oh, it’s def­i­nitely a sur­prise. It came as a big sur­prise to me,” Walling said. “I’m very ap­pre­cia­tive of the whole thing. But I don’t think I’m a hero. I was just in the right place at the right time to be able to help the po­lice. They’re the real he­roes.”

Walling said that he’s “re­ally not one of those guys that’s in the lime­light” and that he’s just tak­ing the recog­ni­tion “in stride.”

“I’m just try­ing to stay hum­ble,” he said.

The Red Cross re­ports the three other Hero Award re­cip­i­ents to be rec­og­nized March 14 dur­ing a cer­e­mony at the Hunt­ing­ton Con­ven­tion Cen­ter Cleve­land are:

• Berea res­i­dent Jan Durkalski, who per­formed CPR on her hus­band, John last Jan­uary af­ter he col­lapsed be­cause of car­diac ar­rest while run­ning in one of the area’s metroparks. Jan re­port­edly learned CPR just the day be­fore the in­ci­dent.

• MetroHealth sim­u­la­tion train­ing spe­cial­ist Jared Lee, who last Oc­to­ber was on his way home from work ren­dered aid to a woman and her young son who had just been in­volved in a mo­tor-ve­hi­cle crash. An­other crash hap­pened in the op­po­site di­rec­tion as he was work­ing on the mother’s in­juries, the driver in that wreck suf­fer­ing se­vere in­juries. Us­ing the draw­string from his scrubs, Lee fash­ioned a tourni­quet to treat the se­ri­ously in­jured driver, us­ing a tech­nique he’d just learned.

• Louis Stokes Cleve­land Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Med­i­cal Cen­ter nurse Ja­nine Smal­ley, who vol­un­teered to help vet­er­ans af­fected by last year’s hur­ri­canes in Puerto Rico, where she joined per­son­nel from three other VA fa­cil­i­ties and em­ployed the FEMA dis­as­ter train­ing she re­ceived. The group “trav­eled daily from shel­ter to shel­ter, of­ten over barely pass­able roads, to ad­min­is­ter ba­sic med­i­cal treat­ment and re­sup­ply med­i­ca­tions for nearly 5,000 vet­er­ans dur­ing her 14-day de­ploy­ment.”

“The Red Cross honors these he­roes for show­ing ex­tra­or­di­nary courage, com­pas­sion and hu­man­ity by sav­ing or im­prov­ing the lives of oth­ers,” Mike Parks, re­gional CEO and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Greater Cleve­land Chap­ter is quoted as say­ing in the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s Feb. 19 news re­lease. “The val­ues rec­og­nized in these he­roes mir­ror those that mo­ti­vate and in­spire the work of the Red Cross.”

Ac­cord­ing to the news re­lease, the Amer­i­can Red Cross Greater Cleve­land Chap­ter at its cer­e­mony March 14 also will rec­og­nize the Cleve­land In­di­ans with its Com­mu­nity Leader Award in honor of the team’s “out­stand­ing lead­er­ship and com­mit­ment to sup­port­ing our com­mu­nity.”


Left to right: Christo­pher Olup, Robert Proc­hazka, Dana Walling

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