PUBLISHED: 3:47 PM on Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Red Cross honors Alaskan heroes
The American Red Cross of Alaska recently honored 25 individuals for their heroic acts and contributions to Alaska's communities at the 2007 Red Cross ConocoPhillips Real Heroes Breakfast.

The event is generously sponsored by Alaskan corporations and organizations, and is a fundraiser to support statewide disaster relief.

"The Red Cross is in the business of making heroes. Our lifesaving programs and services equip Alaskans with skills and information needed to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies," says Joe Mathis CEO of the American Red Cross of Alaska.

"It is an honor to recognize these extraordinary Alaskans for their contributions to our communities throughout the state," adds Mathis.

Among those honored are two from Southeast Alaska.

Sierra Vaden-Vernoy, Sitka was honored fro workplace safety. When Sitka High School senior Vaden-Vernoy discovered there were no automated external defibrillators at her school, she decided to do something about it. Standing in the sunshine and rain, she raised $2,495 by soliciting donations from tourists on cruise ship days and helped procure AEDs for both the elementary and middles schools, as well, ensuring that the tools to save a life in Sitka are readily available.

The Skagway Fire Department was honored for fire safety. When Chief Mark Kirko was first alerted that a train had derailed on the White Pass and Yukon Railroad, he had no way of knowing that the response would push the Skagway Fire Department's volunteer firefighters, and their equipment, beyond anything they'd experienced before.

For five hours, under grueling conditions, Skagway firefighters worked to cut through half-inch-thick steel to successfully free a man trapped inside the engineer's compartment of the derailed train.