More than 100 local heroes were honored last week by the Lee County Department of Public Safety.
Many were first responders - paramedics, EMTs and police. Others were just plain residents or off-duty medical personnel.
But they all were in the right place at the right time. And their hands-on efforts did more than save the lives of nearly three dozen "neighbors" in cardiac arrest - their actions rippled through numerous families in a most positive way, sending grandpa or dad, mother or daughter, husband or wife, home to those who love them.
Named after the mythological creature that symbolizes new life and rebirth from the ashes of death, the annual Phoenix Awards not only recognize those who have saved a life but brings those lifesavers together with the survivors whose lives they saved.
The annual ceremony is typically teary, but in the best way possible as hands are shaken, backs are patted, and hugs are exchanged.
This year, the county honored more than 100 individuals collectively responsible for saving 34 lives. Of the tally, 14 of the incidents - car crashes, medical emergencies - occurred in the Cape where first responders and residents alike were johnny-on-the-spot with CPR and advanced life support efforts until those whose hearts had stopped reached a hospital where more intensive intervention could be made.
Lee County provided some examples of more than 30 survivors' stories:
- "William Schutz, 54, took a car for a test drive, got out to check something and collapsed. A bystander stayed with him until fire and EMS arrived. He remained in cardiac arrest until he arrived at Cape Coral Hospital where his pulse returned."
- "Marvin Shine, 45, collapsed while setting block at a construction site." His stepson, Alphonso Robinson, immediately began resuscitation efforts, which were continued by Cape Coral Fire Department and EMS responders who resuscitated Mr. Shine. He was transported to Gulf Coast Medical Center, where he made a full recovery.
- "Zytravious Pratt, 16, was born with a heart condition and had surgery as an infant. He went into cardiac arrest at Dunbar High School after sustaining a blow to the chest. He received aid from a security guard who is a former firefighter and a coach/teacher and other school personnel before emergency crews arrived."
- "Thad Rogers, 45, complained of chest pain while at work and went into cardiac arrest during transport to the hospital. A pulse was recovered after defibrillation."
We join all of the survivors' families in thanking our fellow residents and the numerous first responders for their efforts.
Whether you simply rose to the occasion or were "just doing the job you were trained to do" - the modest comment most often heard from public safety and medical personnel - you made a difference.
To a lot of people.
To your community.
Congratulations on your Phoenix Award recognitions. It's a fitting accolade from a grateful community.
- Citizen editorial