Arlington, Marysville residents named Red Cross 'Real Heroes'

From left, Arlington
From left, Arlington's Elsa Svensson attended the Red Cross 'Real Heroes' breakfast with Bill Carpenter, the man whose life she saved.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

TULALIP — Residents of Arlington and Marysville were among those honored at the 14th annual "Real Heroes" awards breakfast conducted by the Snohomish County Chapter of the American Red Cross, held this year at the Tulalip Resort Dec. 3.

Arlington's Elsa Svensson was climbing with her friend Bill Carpenter when he fell 20 feet into water several feet deep. She climbed down, pulled him to shore, got him breathing and found a woman on the road with a cell phone. In spite of sustaining a broken back, a broken neck and facial fractures, Carpenter is on his way to a full recovery and was well enough to attend the breakfast with Svensson.

"I wasn't thinking," Svensson said. "I saw what had happened and I started to move. You never know when something might happen, so you should prepare yourself any way you can."

Fellow Arlington resident and good samaritan award winner Nancy Felke resuscitated Damon Denton, the father of another "Real Heroes" award winner. Denton's wife Kathy called Felke at 4:30 a.m. to tell her that Damon might be dead. When Felke arrived at her neighbor's house, she immediately began administering CPR, even though she worried that she might be too late.

"It was like I was in a dream," Felke said. "I didn't think Damon was coming back, but there was no way I was stopping. Something is better than nothing, so I was going to keep going until somebody else got there."

Damon Denton presented Felke with her award.

Everett Police Officer Ursula Clifton, of Marysville, received the law enforcement award for staunching the neck bleeding of a passenger in a two-car accident. Clifton stayed with the passenger until paramedics arrived, even after her work boot caught on fire.

"I didn't even know it until somebody told me and put it out for me," Clifton said. "It wasn't until afterward that I recognized that my arms hurt, from being singed by the fire."

The passenger is expected to make a full recovery.

Fellow Marysville resident Paula Townsend received the medical hero award for resuscitating a 2-year-old girl who'd gone unconscious in a parking lot. Townsend was out getting pizza for her son's birthday party when she heard the girl's mother and grandmother screaming for help, and after checking for signs of choking or a pulse, she began administering CPR.

"Anybody could have done what I did," Townsend said. "I can't imagine someone not helping in a situation like that."

The girl was breathing again by the time paramedics arrived.

Marysville's Tim Serban was surprised with a "Spirit of the Red Cross" award for his 25 days of relief work in American Samoa, after a Sept. 29 earthquake and tsunami that killed dozens and destroyed hundreds of homes on the Pacific island. Fellow Red Cross volunteer Lyle O'Neal, who deployed with Serban, spoke of the "consummate professionalism and nearly compulsive compassion" that he showed to children and adults alike.

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