Certificate of Merit honoree took initial steps to save co-worker’s life – and was ready for whatever came next

Stories and Photos by Justin Kern, American Red Cross

When a co-worker collapsed, David Klitzman knew just what to do. He’d been preparing for this moment over the past two decades through training with the American Red Cross.

David Klitzman shares - CPR award July 2019 American Red Cross

David Klitzman shares his life-saving story during a brief award presentation July 17, 2019 at Kerry Foods in Jackson, Wisc.

First, Klitzman cleared the scene on the factory floor at Kerry Foods, the Jackson, Wisc. ingredients manufacturer where he and the co-worker were working that morning in August 2018. Next, Klitzman directed others to dial 9-1-1, then he comforted the co-worker as they talked through steps to identify her ailments and condition. He asked questions down the “SAMPLE” CPR training checklist. She revealed that she was suffering chest and head pains, and indicated that she had had a related doctor’s appointment recently.

“I was just happy to be able to participate, to help and keep her calm,” said Klitzman, a 19-year employee at Kerry, who has maintained his CPR training throughout that time. “It was nice to know that when that situation came up, I was able to do what I could and if it would’ve went any other way, I was ready to do the next level as well.”

That information was relayed to emergency responders, who took over upon arrival. The co-worker was treated and released from a nearby hospital in the subsequent days. Responders acknowledged Klitzman’s role in taking important steps to help save a life. In turn, Klitzman credited repeated CPR trainings from the Red Cross as central to his ability to step into action right away.

For his life-saving efforts, the American Red Cross on Wednesday presented the Certificate of Merit to Klitzman, of West Bend, during a short presentation at Kerry Foods. Mark Thomas, Regional CEO and Southeast Wisconsin Chapter Executive, Red Cross, lauded the safety focus at Kerry Foods and Klitzman’s own passion to obtain training – he’s also been a certified lifeguard and has helped his own grandchildren during medical situations – that keeps others’ safety in mind.

Jason Ampe David Klitzman Mark Thomas talks - CPR award July 2019 American Red Cross

Mark Thomas, right, Red Cross Regional CEO, express his gratitude to Klitzman, center, and Jason Ampe, of Kerry Foods, which offers Red Cross CPR training at their facilities.

“Understand that in this situation, someone was in trouble and someone needed help. If it were you, wouldn’t you want someone who could act quickly and who is trained to do the right thing? Every second counts,” Thomas said.

The Certificate of Merit is the highest civilian honor at the Red Cross, and is provided to a person who demonstrates life-saving measures to people in crisis. The Certificate is signed by the President of the United States and the chairman of the national American Red Cross, and comes with a medallion and pin.

Klitzman will be added to a roster of Certificate honorees in a Red Cross national online database. He is among a trio of honorees in the past six months and the first recent recipient in southeast Wisconsin.

The presentation was held at Kerry Foods in front of dozens of co-workers, Klitzman’s wife, Lisa, supporters of the local Red Cross, and Washington County Supervisor Donald Kriefall. Jason Ampe, of Kerry Foods, welcomed the crowd and opened the presentation by lauding Klitzman and pointing to the value of safety at the food ingredients company’s facilities in Jackson.

To bring Red Cross CPR, First Aid and other safety trainings to your workplace, visit RedCross.org/training.

 

‘This is happening, this is now’: Wisconsin man credits repeated CPR training with life-saving act

By Zahra Said, American Red Cross

On October 6, 2017, Mark Brudos was having dinner with his family at a Beloit steakhouse to celebrate his brother’s birthday. While enjoying their meal and chatting, Brudos noticed the gentlemen’s wife stand up. She made direct contact with Brudos, asking for someone to help her because her husband is choking and not responding.

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Mark Brudos shares his CPR save story during a recent work event in Milton honoring his act.

Brudos immediately dove into his training from American Red Cross.

First, he cleared the scene, as people panicked around the choking man.

“I said everyone calm down we need space.”

Next, he found people to help, including dialing 9-1-1. Then, Brudos engaged the choking man, whom he realized was not breathing. Brudos started CPR, something he had repeated training on through the Red Cross at this workplace.

“I thought, ‘This is happening, this is now.’ I was just focused.”

Not long after, Brudos was able to get the choking man upright and breathing again. By this time, police and paramedics came to the man’s attention and Brudos let them take over.

Brudos leaned on his training and a bit of adrenaline. But after the professionals tended to the man, now safe and no longer choking, Brudos had time to reflect with his family on the “surreal” experience. Even with all the trainings, it was hard to believe this had happened.

Brudos believed it was his duty to help in this situation.

“On our way out the door, the [choking man’s] wife said thank you. I said, ‘No, that was my job and it was my responsibility to act.’”

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The National Certificate of Merit outlining Brudos’s actions and including a medal.

For his actions, Brudos received the American Red Cross Certificate of Merit, for “selfless and humane action in saving a life.” Brudos was one of a trio of recent Wisconsin recipients of the life-saving honor, the highest a citizen can receive from the Red Cross.

Part of that sense of duty came from an incident about 15 years prior where a stranger saved his father’s life during a sudden health crisis. “Even prior to that I wanted to give back to society for giving me my father. [CPR training] was my way of giving back.”

He wants people to know that as a human being and as a citizen that if he can help, others should get trained to help as well. To that end, Brudos had already scheduled another training for 31 employees after his life-saving event at that Beloit steakhouse.

Brudos credits his company for giving him the opportunity to get educated and prepare him for the incident that he did not know he was ready for. The incident also proved how prepared he was and how great American Red Cross’s training is.

“To validate that I was prepared it is a testament of how good of a training the American Red Cross has.”

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Brudos, center with medal, shares his Red Cross award with co-workers. He credits repeated CPR trainings at his workplace, Charter Nex Films, with his ability to have helped save a life.

Because of his training with American red cross and the experience that he has had with this incident, Brudos believes everyone should get certified.

“It is important to take the certified class and everyone should be trained on this”, said Brudos.

He believes starting early is important and schools should offer the training as well.

“It should be a requirement. It should be a requirement in high school before you get the diploma.”

To sign up for a CPR or other life-saving class near you, click here.

4th Annual Disaster Training Conference

Last week, the Wisconsin Region conducted our 4th  annual Disaster Training Conference. Though the conference was held on the shores of Green Lake, attendees paid little attention to beautiful autumn scenery outside. The 183  attendees, Red Cross volunteers and staff from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois, enjoyed four days of learning, sharing and networking.

The broad range of classes provided opportunities for brand new volunteers and seasoned veterans. The newest volunteer had been with the Red Cross for only two days and several in attendance had more than 20-years of service. Classes were offered to provide instruction on delivering the Red Cross mission, supervision & leadership along with diversity & inclusion. Workshops built upon classroom instruction and provided hands-on opportunities to set-up a shelter, conduct damage assessment and manage a disaster relief operation.

On Wednesday night, Red Cross volunteers partnered with the Berlin Fire Department to make homes in Berlin safer. They visited homes and provided smoke alarms testing, free smoke alarm installation, home evacuation planning and fire safety tips. 25 homes were visited and 69 smoke alarms were installed.  Community outreach like this is happening around the state and more than 10,000 smoke alarms will installed this year alone!

By all reports, the Disaster Training Conference was a wonderful success! It was wonderful to see so many Red Crossers come together to learn and celebrate together. Plans for next year’s conference are already underway. We hope to see you there!

 

Greenfield’s Life-Saver Receives National Award

At only 11 years-old, Abram Suminski of Greenfield, Wisconsin, is a official recipient of the American Red Cross Certificate of Merit for selfless and humane action in saving a life. This is the highest award given by the Red Cross to an individual or team of individuals who saves or sustains life by using skills and knowledge learned in the American Red Cross Preparedness, Health and Safety Services courses.

When Abram Suminski was learning first aid basics in an American Red Cross Babysitter’s training course, I doubt he knew how quickly he’d be putting them to use in a real-life situation. Good thing he was prepared though when his younger brother, Logan, was in need. Shortly after, the brothers were playing in their grandmother’s basement when Logan started to choke on a piece a candy. Abram saw his brother turning purple and jumped into action to perform abdominal thrusts. His quick actions dislodged the piece of candy from Logan’s throat, saving his life!

Abram’s instructor from the Babysitter’s training course heard of his life-saving story, and she, along with the Greenfield Rec. Department (where the training took place), nominated Abram for the Red Cross Certificate of Merit, which is signed by the President Barack Obama, who is the Honorary Chairman of the American Red Cross!

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Abram Suminski holding his award with the help of his younger brother, Logan.

On Tuesday night at the Greenfield Common Council Meeting, Abram received the Red Cross Certificate of Merit. The Mayor of Greenfield, Michael J. Neitzke, and local Red Cross CEO, Patty Flowers, had the honor of presenting the award to Abram. In attendance, were some very special guests including Abram’s family, the vice principle of his school, his Red Cross instructor and the Greenfield Fire Department.

If you’re thinking about signing up for a Red Cross training course, don’t hesitate – be prepared! Information about the Red Cross Babysitting course, First Aid, CPR/AED and other training courses are available at redcross.org/takeaclass.

To see live action watch the Fox 6 news clip!

 

Dear Wisconsin,

August has been a tremendously busy month for disaster responses! On the news, we’ve seen the devastation in Louisiana, California, Indiana, Ohio and now several parts of the country are bracing for hurricanes and tropical storms. In Wisconsin, we experienced a significant number of disaster responses. Though these disasters did not capture national media attention hundreds of people experienced the worst day of their lives. In a moment, lives were turned upside down, homes were destroyed, pets died and cherished belongings are gone forever. Some lost loved ones including a family that lost their 2-year-old son in a home fire. Through all this, the American Red Cross was there. Wisconsin volunteers and staff responded at all hours of the day and night providing assistance, guidance and hope. They were there to listen and to help people begin to recover and heal.

In August, the Wisconsin Region…

  • Responded to 81 local disaster events including two Level II Disaster Relief Operations
  • Opened 198 cases helping 463 people
  • Opened and ran a shelter for 6 days and provided 106 overnight stays to people with no other place to spend the night
  • Coordinated 2 Multi Agency Resource Centers providing a one stop recovery shop for clients to meet with numerous agencies and receive support
  • Opened a Reception Center which provided people with casework, health services and crisis counseling
  • Responded to 4 requests to provide hydration and food to first responders

And remember, all of this came on the heels of a Level III flooding response in July!

In addition to helping at home, 77 Wisconsinites accepted assignments in Louisiana, California and now Hawaii. They set aside their lives to travel to communities torn apart by disasters, worked long hours, slept in gyms and more. They worked in shelters, served hot meals, delivered supplies, counseled survivors and did behind the scenes work to raise money, provide logistics support, managed staff and provided operational leadership.

All of you have a role in making sure the Red Cross mission is delivered in Wisconsin and beyond. Whether you respond to disasters, recruit, train and mentor volunteers, raise funds, tell the story, ensure vehicles, supplies and buildings are available or work with partners, please know that you make a difference. So many have benefited and will continue to benefit from Red Cross services and you help make it happen! Thank you!

Warmest regards,

Marytha Blanchard,

WI Disaster Officer

#proudredcrosser

 

Meet Kendall – Our New Disaster Cycle Services Intern

We have a new Disaster Cycle Services Intern Kendall Stauber at our Oshkosh office. Kendall is a student at University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh and plans to graduate by next spring. She majors in Human Services Leadership with a minor in Communication Studies.

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Kendall enjoys traveling, concerts, jet skiing and spending time with her family and friends.

We have a new Disaster Cycle Services Intern Kendall Stauber at our Oshkosh office. Kendall is a student at University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh and plans to graduate by next spring. She majors in Human Services Leadership with a minor in Communication Studies.

“I love to volunteer and help where I can. I have volunteered for several Hands on Oshkosh events where I was put with groups of people on campus and sent into the community to help certain organizations. I have also volunteered for the Boys and Girls Club of Oshkosh and I was an intern this past spring semester at the Oshkosh Seniors Center.  These volunteer opportunities have led me to work with diverse age groups and help with a variety of projects that were rewarding to see the impact that I can do to help.”

Although this is Kendall’s first time interning with the Red Cross, she has been aware of their mission and services for a while. When she was younger, she obtained her babysitting certification through the Red Cross. Now that Kendall is an intern with the Red Cross, she’s excited to assist in carrying out the mission, stating:

“The American Red Cross is an interest to me because I wish to help, inform, and be there for people and communities after a disaster has struck or to inform people with possible resources before a disaster occurs. I am really excited to see what I can learn and give during this summer internship.”

Post college Kendall plans to continue her education with a focus on social work . She then hopes to pursue a career in counseling, specifically helping those affected by disasters and trauma.

The Red Cross is grateful to have Kendall as an intern, and to be a part of her educational experience. To start volunteering like Kendall, please visit redcross.org/volunteer.

 

 

 

 

 

Volunteer of the Month – Floyd Duranceau

Congratulations Floyd Duranceau, the July 2016 Volunteer of the Month!

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When July volunteer of the month, Floyd Duranceau looks back on his Red Cross service, he’s reminded of the great gifts he has been able to offer others; first through the teaching of lifesaving skills and now through the distribution of lifesaving blood.  After working as a Red Cross Health & Safety CPR Instructor for more than twenty-six years, in 2015 Floyd decided to volunteer in a new position for the Red Cross with the BioMed Transportation Program. Volunteering as a Transportation Specialist, Floyd delivers blood product to hospitals providing the vital link between donor and patient, making sure that critical blood products get delivered quickly and effectively to those in need.

In the past six months of volunteering Floyd has accumulated over eight-hundred hours of volunteer service. This level of commitment speaks to the special qualities that make Floyd an outstanding leader in this program. “Floyd has become a real asset to the transportation program. In addition to driving almost every day of the week to places as far away as Chicago Illinois, he routinely recruits new volunteers to become drivers by informing them of the need for this important service,” shares Joshua McDonnell, Blood Services Manager of Volunteer Services.

“Volunteering to me just means getting to know people, after that I feel impassioned to make their day a better one.” When asked about his favorite volunteer moments, Floyd recalls, “I’ve had a number of great moments working in the Red Cross mission. The most memorable though happened in one of the last CPR classes I taught. A gentleman near the end of the class said that he had taken many CPR classes over the years and could never wait to have them end but with my class he did not want it to end.” This clearly shows how well Floyd shares his dedication to the American Red Cross mission with others.

As a Red Cross volunteer, Floyd said he is determined to do whatever he can for others for as long as he can. Every week he commits to working an average of thirty hours with the Bloods Services transportation program all while he continues learning, training and mentoring others. To encourage others to become a volunteer with the Red Cross, Floyd emphasizes, “We just need to show people that someone cares. This may sound simple but it can change both the lives of others’ and the volunteer’s own life tremendously. You don’t need a special talent to help others; the Red Cross will train and prepare you.”

Thank you, Floyd for proudly representing the Red Cross in your community and for giving back to others in so many remarkable ways!

This month, consider giving someone a chance to share more joy, laughter and time with family and friends. Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. Blood transfusions are a very common medical procedure. A total of 30 million blood components are transfused each year in the United States alone. Although 38 percent of people in the U.S. are eligible to donate blood, only 3 percent actually do. Be the change in someone’s life by donating today. For more information visit http://www.redcrossblood.org

If you are interested in joining Floyd as a Blood Services transporter of blood and blood products throughout the region in a safe and timely manner please contact us. Right now, the American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including becoming a disaster responder, supporting military troops, and many more. Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives are also changed. To learn more, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact the office of Volunteer Resources at volunteerwisconsin@redcross.org.