A vacationing teenage girl risks her life to save a drowning boy. A group of construction workers act quickly to revive a stricken co-worker. Members of two volunteer fire companies set their personal concerns aside to tend to the needs of their flood-ravaged communities.
Those are among the heroic actions recognized Friday by the Northcentral Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross.
They are extraordinary actions taken by ordinary people, without concern for personal comfort or safety, said Harry Rogers, chairman of this year's Heroes Breakfast at the Genetti Hotel.
"They are the heart and soul of what makes us special as human beings and as a community," Rogers said of those honored during the breakfast.
Awards were presented in a variety of categories, including fire safety, law enforcement, medical, military, youth good samaritan, adult good samaritan and unspoken heroes.
Ron Guinter and James Pardee II were recognized with a Fire Safety Award after responding to a fire at the home of Pardee's parents' house. The two men entered the smoke-filled house, found Pardee's 83-year-old father in the kitchen. Pardee threw his father over his shoulder and, assisted by Guinter, removed him from the burning home. Others assisted in removing Pardee's mother from the home.
David G. Closs Jr., an Avis firefighter, and Phil Lowry, a police officer with the Pine Creek Township Police Department, were recognized for their actions in rescuing three adults and two dogs from a burning home in the early morning hours of Aug. 11, 2011. Closs received Fire Safety Award and Lowry, the Law Enforcement Award.
Cherie Springman received the Medical Award for saving the life of a member of Trout Run's Benchrest Club during a shooting event at the club. Springman responded with heroism when the member fainted and is credited with saving that person's life.
Members of the Pennsylvania National Guard unit based in Williamsport were honored with the Military Award for assisting the Picture Rocks Volunteer Fire Co. in rescue and evacuation efforts in Glenn Mawr during the September flooding.
The Picture Rocks and Plunketts Creek Township volunteer fire companies were honored with the Unspoken Hero Award, not only for their valiant rescue efforts during the flood, but during the extended relief efforts in its aftermath.
Many of those firefighters remained on duty even though their own homes were damaged by the flood, Rogers said.
Chief Alan Little of Picture Rocks and Chief Bradley Stine of Plunketts Creek Township were given special recognition for leading the efforts of their respective fire companies.
Also receiving the Unspoken Hero Award were two men who could not be there.
One was the late Donald Mellot, who was captain of the Woolrich Volunteer Fire Co. when he was killed in February 2010 after being hit by an automobile.
Mellot was directing traffic at the scene of a vehicle crash when he was struck by a vehicle whose driver was distracted. He had been a volunteer in fire service for 44 years. Several members of Mellot's family were on hand to accept the award on his behalf.
Matthew Henry was on hand to accept that award on behalf of his late father Bill Henry, who died suddenly last October. Henry, who served as chief of South Williamsport's volunteer fire company, dedicated decades of his life to improving emergency medical care at Susquehanna Health, according to Robert Kane of the health system.
"Bill dedicated his life to Susquehanna Health, the community, the fire company and his family," Kane said. "He was a friend to many and is greatly missed."
Receiving the Adult Good Samaritan Award were Tim Hartley, Dennis Miller, Rich Williams, Tim Milheim, Lance Rook and Keith Stover, members of Construction Specialties emergency response team.
They responded to a stricken co-worker with a weak pulse and shallow breathing, administering CPR and using an automatic defibrillator twice. The man, Jeff Waltman, has since recovered and was able to attend the breakfast with the team.
Not attending the breakfast was Daniel L. Shifflet, who also received the Adult Good Samaritan Award. Shifflet's parents did attend, however, and it was their son's quick thinking that allowed them to be there to accept the award on his behalf.
Shifflet was attending church one Sunday when he became concerned because his parents, Bill and Vera, had not arrived. He decided to check on them. Upon arriving at their home, he found them asleep and overcome by carbon monoxide poisoning. Had he not responded, his parents would have died in about 30 minutes, it was later discovered.
"He doesn't consider himself a hero," Bill Shifflet said. "He just considers himself a son."
Natasha Harkey, 15, of Jersey Shore was vacationing with her family in Virginia Beach when she heard a boy caught in the ocean's rip current screaming for help.
Harkey, a 4 1/2-year member of the Jersey Shore Area YMCA swim team, rushed to the boy, then realized his father and cousin also were caught in the current.
She and her stepfather tried to save them but could not reach them. However, Harkey's aunt, Shelley Moore called 911 and nearby surfers and lifeguards were able to pull the father and cousin from the water.
John T. Colocino, Stephen S. Koch, John D. Shaffer and Timothy M. Weigle, members of Lycoming College's safety and security department, received the Animal Rescue Award for coming to the aid of a female deer that was spooked by an automobile on Washington Boulevard and became stuck in a fence on college property.
The men cut the fence, covered the deer with a blanket to calm her, placed her in Shaffer's truck and released her along a local creek near the college.
Rogers said it is important for communities to recognize their heroes, even if the heroes themselves do not see their actions as extraordinary.