Mt. Baker Red Cross will honor real heroes Dec. 11

Galen Emanuele performing onstage. Emanuele is the founder of Shift Yes, which uses performance improv to help businesses.
Galen Emanuele performing onstage. Emanuele is the founder of Shift Yes, which uses performance improv to help businesses. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

What Sheri Baer thought would be a short visit to the grocery store quickly turned into a day she would never forget.

On April 30, 2014, Baer was buying her husband an anniversary card at The Market at Birch Bay when an older man collapsed near her. His heart had stopped, and he had turned blue, Baer said.

When others asked if anyone knew CPR, Baer took action. She performed CPR for what she said felt like an eternity before paramedics arrived.

“I started doing all of the stuff I was learning in classes,” Baer said. “I never thought that (CPR training) would be something I would ever use.”

Baer, 37, is a former medical assistant who now does paperwork for a doctor’s office from home. She found out a month after the incident that the man had survived, and paramedics told her that without her quick response he would have died.

On Dec. 11, the Mt. Baker Chapter of the American Red Cross will honor Baer and other locals at the annual Real Heroes charity event. Proceeds will benefit American Red Cross programs in Whatcom and Skagit counties.

Baer, who said she still gets emotional just talking about the incident, doesn’t think of herself as a hero.

“I know they’re calling me a hero, but I just did what anybody should do,” Baer said.

Here are the other honorees for this year's Real Heroes awards.

Galen Emanuele: After his brother died in a car accident in 1998, the family’s financial hardship from resulting bills that weren’t covered by insurance added to the family’s grief. In February of 2012, Emanuele founded a nonprofit organization called Pass the Hat, which continues to help families financially following tragic events.

Sky Terry: A man jumping from a 30-foot cliff into a swimming hole landed on rocks at Whatcom Falls Park, and when the man resurfaced he was not breathing and had lost circulation. Terry, a nurse who was with his son in the park, directed the efforts of a group that performed CPR until the man started breathing again and firefighters could take over. The man survived.

Wade Green, Cody Hodges and David Ruble: When a car crashed into Greene’s Corner store north of Bellingham, these three men helped the driver out of the car moments before it burst into flames.

Bryan Ribera: Ribera was awoken by his dog as smoke filled his room and he realized his house was on fire. Unable to escape through the door, he climbed out of his window to save both his and the dog’s life.

Paula McCandlis: While her husband was having a heart attack, McCandlis used her training to provide CPR for her husband until paramedics arrived. Her husband experienced no oxygen deprivation or brain damage thanks to her efforts.

Luis Garcia: When an elderly man in a restaurant began choking, 17-year-old Garcia used training he received from a CPR and first aid class to perform abdominal thrusts on the man until the piece of food obstructing his airway was dislodged.