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17 honored for life-saving efforts

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

Because they answered the call of duty, 7-year-old Ethan Rock is alive today. Rock is embraced by his grandmother, Lisa Burch Frost, during the Breakfast of Champions held by the Southwest Colorado Chapter of the American Red Cross. Honored for their efforts in helping save Ethan, who collapsed in a cardiac arrest last year, from left, are Tyler Gardner, Mike Valdez, Seth St. Germain, Max Howard, Joel Flaugh and Burch Frost.

By Dale Rodebaugh Herald staff writer

Seventeen Southwest Colorado residents were honored Wednesday for their unhesitating response to help fellow humans – and three dogs – in life-threatening circumstances last year.

The recognition came from the Southwest Colorado Chapter of the American Red Cross in a ceremony at the Durango Community Recreation Center.

“This is our fifth annual Breakfast of Champions to honor people who did something very special in the community,” Red Cross chapter Executive Director Cindi Shank said.

Referring to the value of knowing CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator – an AED – Shank said: “You never know when someone can step up and take care of you.”

Eyes teared at the table where 7-year-old Ethan Rock sat with family members, including grandmother Lisa Burch Frost, who immediately started CPR when Ethan collapsed July, 14, 2012, at the Southern Ute Indian Tribe ceremonial grounds in Ignacio.

Burch Frost was relieved by Southern Ute police officer Joel Flaugh, who was in the area. Flaugh continued CPR until Jim Owens, Tyler Gardner, Seth St. Germain, Max Howard, Casey Baker, Tony Stephens and Mike Valdez from Los Pinos Fire Department arrived.

The firefighters rendered advanced care, then placed Ethan on an emergency medical flight to Children’s Hospital in Aurora, where he received an internal defibrillator. It was discovered that the boy, now a second-grader at the Montessori Academy in Ignacio, had a congenital heart defect.

“I’m going to make sure that my whole family gets certified in CPR,” said Ethan’s mother, Shayleen Watts. “You don’t know what can happen.”

In contrast to the solemn faces in Ethan’s family, Jake Lauer, assistant head of school at Animas High School, kept it light.

He was treated by members of Durango Fire & Rescue Authority and La Plata County Search & Rescue when he fell while climbing near Silverton. Shane Baird, who handled much of the rescue, received the Life Saver Award on behalf of his teammates.

“My wife (Pat) and I have a joke,” Lauer said. “When we have a problem, we say, ‘Call Shane.’”

Other Life Saver Award recipients were:

Brian Leewit an Upper Pine Fire Protection District captain who spent 90 minutes with Tim and Karen Kelley while rescuers dug them from the pile of rubble that was their home at the north end of Lemon Reservoir.

The house was leveled by a propane-tank explosion in February 2012. The couple’s daughter, Cameron, although injured, got out of the collapsed structure,

Sgt. Robert Taylor and Sgt. David Longenette of the Durango Police Department used an AED to save a tourist who was eating at a Durango restaurant.

Jim Cornett, a business owner in Bayfield, entered a burning structure on his neighbor’s property to rescue three trapped dogs.

Stephanie Hoselton and Jacob Posey, lifeguards at the SunUte Recreation Center, resuscitated Dan Stephenson, who had passed out underwater while training for a Navy SEAL test in the center swimming pool.

Erika Pray received recognition for raising money annually for the Red Cross with a disc-golf tournament for four years.

daler@durangoherald.com

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