Heroic actions recognized in Canadian Red Cross Rescuer awards

Guest post by Shelly Makrugin, Canadian Red Crosser

It was an emotional evening as 10 people from Alberta and British Columbia were recognized for their heroic efforts in two life-changing events and given Canadian Red Cross Rescuer Awards at a ceremony in Calgary.

Canadian Red Cross Rescuer Awards honour untrained or non-professional rescuers as well as off-duty first responders who take life-saving actions such as providing first aid and CPR.

Rescuer Awards recognized heroic actions

At the Canadian Red Cross Rescuer Awards ceremony in Calgary, 10 people were recognized for their heroic efforts, pictured here with those rescued flanking the group. /Photo credit: Keith Howie

On August 30, 2014, a plane carrying pilot Dr. Michal Kantoch and passenger Jane Lavallee crashed in Crawford Bay, B.C. The two were pulled from the plane just before the fuel tanks exploded. Brant Hannah, one of the rescuers who helped get the couple out of the wreckage, sustained burns to his hands and smoke inhalation. Dr. Debbie McAllister was instrumental in resuscitation efforts and organizing six other rescuers.

Alexandra Johnston, Jody Jones, Darryl Jenner, Melanie Desjardins, Robert Hynes and Penny Karpowich assisted with resuscitation and first aid. Dr. Kantoch survived the crash and spent three months in hospital. Unfortunately, Jane could not be saved despite everyone’s best efforts.

Dr. Kantoch was emotional as he thanked the rescuers, expressing his “heartfelt, sincere gratitude” and acknowledging “some individuals risked their life, there was a lot of fuel in the fuel tanks.” Dr. Kantoch said it “just shows how we can help each other.”

Two other rescuers were honoured for saving the life of their friend, Neil McFarlane. On June 7, 2015, Neil and his friends were enjoying a typical Sunday game of flag football when Neil became unwell. His friends, Jamie Kormos and Matt Sauer initially believed Neil was suffering from a heat-related emergency and were providing care and escorting him home when Neil stopped breathing and fell unconscious. They called 911 and performed CPR. It turned out Neil, a young, strong man, had suffered cardiac arrest.

Neil tearfully commended his friends saying, “Thank you reacting, being brave, taking care of me and giving me a chance to go home to my daughter and my wife.”


Knowing CPR and first aid can help you save a life!  Learn more about Canadian Red Cross training and certification. 

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