Heroes on TV and in movies often wear disguises so they can go unnoticed in public.
Thursday, the Islands Chapter of the American Red Cross will recognize some of the Real Heroes who may have been overlooked in our community this year.
The annual Real Heroes breakfast fundraiser is the chapter’s largest fundraiser of the year. It supports disaster relief, emergency military family communication and community preparedness on Fidalgo, Whidbey and the San Juan islands.
Ten ordinary people who have accomplished extraordinary acts of courage will be honored with the award.
• Sgt. Lou D’Amelio, Officer Sam King, and Officer Travis Dotzauer of the Anacortes Police Department.
In December 2011, these three officers were called to draw upon their collective strength, wisdom and training to save a life.
Shortly after midnight, the officers received an alert of a possibly suicidal man in the Anacortes area. The call came from a relative out of state, who reported that the man intended to jump off a cliff into the water and kill himself.
Officers found a car at Washington Park leading them to believe the man was somewhere on the loop trail. Equipped with night vision goggles, the three officers set off to search the wooded area, cliffs and beachfront. It was 38 degrees, rainy and windy.
Officers searched the cliff areas for more than an hour before finding the man. He was unable to stand or walk when they found him.
The officers quickly realized he was suffering from hypothermia as well as other medical and mental health issues.
An aid car was summoned and the man was transported to Island Hospital for treatment. Had he spent a few more hours out in the elements, he likely would have died of exposure.
• Jim McNally, Anacortes High School wrestling coach and founder of “Team Nathan, Wrestlers for Life.”
Wrestlers for Life began when one of McNally’s students died of cancer. The team decided to raise money by doing odd jobs and donate it to cancer research and to the wrestling team in their teammate’s name.
Wrestlers for Life raises money by doing anything the community needs: They shovel snow, set up chairs and tables for events, empty garbage cans at festivals, rake leaves, move furniture, split firewood, cut weeds, move dirt, spread bark, stain decks, load lumber, mow lawns, pull weeds, help people move, bale hay, unload boats and more. Whatever is asked, the wrestlers do any and all jobs requiring lots of muscle.
In the past, Wrestler’s for Life has received the Red Cross Real Heroes award, but this year the Red Cross specifically honors the coach, McNally, for his dedication to his local community.
McNally was nominated this year because of his personal attention and support for the families of his wrestlers. Recently two wrestlers were injured and needed surgery. Coach McNally waited in the hospital for hours with the families of his wrestlers dealing with a torn knee ligament and a dislocated shoulder.
• Bob Parmley of Skagit County Fire District 11.
Parmley has been a volunteer firefighter with the Mount Erie Fire District for more than 33 years. The fire district covers the area south of Anacortes to Deception Pass.
Parmley participates in 48 two-hour fire drills annually and responds to more than 200 emergency calls each year. As the assistant fire chief he is responsible for the welfare of 25 firefighters and the department when the fire chief is away. At age 56, Parmley is strong and in excellent condition: well-prepared and able to carry 40 to 60 pounds of gear as well as hike up Mount Erie to fight wildfires and rescue hikers.
When not volunteering, Parmley and his wife Brenda run Harold’s Market on the south end of Fidalgo Island on Highway 20.
Often when he responds to a fire or a medical emergency, it is to the home of one of his regular customers. Parmley carries a pager at all times and his wife Brenda replaces him at the store when he is paged. Luckily for the people of Fidalgo, one of the two Mount Erie fire stations is next door to Harold’s Market.
A humble person, Parmley is rarely in the spotlight. He is honored for a lifetime of service, being a good neighbor and responding to fires and emergencies in his community.
Whidbey Island residents will also be honored:
• Navy rescue swimmer Petty Officer 2nd Class Brian Casey of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, for his heroic rescue and recovery work in water and snow.
• Paramedic Deb Crager of Whidbey General Hospital for her lifelong work as a paramedic and creation of “Base Camp 911,” a summer camp for kids.
• Nurse Carol Knaack of Whidbey General Hospital and Officers Robert Mirabal and Mike Clements of the Oak Harbor Police Department for their lifesaving efforts to revive a man after a heart attack at a dog show.
Real Heroes breakfast
• 7 a.m. Thursday, March 29.
• First Baptist Church of Anacortes, 2717 J Ave.
• Admission: Free, donations will be solicited.
• Real Heroes
Petty Officer 2nd Class Brian W. Casey, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.
Paramedic Deb Crager, Whidbey General Hospital.
Sgt. Lou D’Amelio, Officer Sam King and Officer Travis Dotzauer, Anacortes Police Department.
Officer Robert Mirabal and Officer Mike Clements, Oak Harbor Police Department.
Nurse Carol Knaack, Whidbey General Hospital.
Wrestling coach Jim McNally, Anacortes High School.
Firefighter Bob Parmley, Fire District 11.
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