|Birdseye view of
Nazareth Hall during Friday’s Black Swamp Humaitarian Awards. (Photo: Aaron
GRAND RAPIDS – When Gregory Wilson of Luckey Road went off to serve in the war in Iraq, he did not know
he would be called upon to use his combat life-saving skills back home to save not only one, but two,
people from certain death.
Wilson was one of 31 people honored with Black Swamp Humanitarian Awards during its 21st banquet Friday
evening at Nazareth Hall. While Wilson’s award was for his saving the life of a neighbor, Gerald Hess,
the audience of 135 also heard how Wilson saved an elderly driver from a fiery death in her car in 2005.
In July Wilson was on his roof when he saw his neighbor lying face-down in a water-filled ditch, pinned
under his lawn tractor. The retired Army staff sergeant, 46, jumped 12 feet from his roof when he
accidently knocked over his ladder and sprinted across the road. Together with two male passers-by, the
three lifted the tractor off of Hess and pulled him up the embankment. The neighbor, in his 70s, was not
breathing and did not have a pulse.
Wilson gave him CPR and had him breathing when Troy Township EMS arrived. EMT Paul Perry later nominated
Wilson for a Black Swamp Humanitarian Award, noting "there are not too many times that someone from
the public, or even in the EMS, can do CPR and bring someone back." He also nominated Stacy Loomis
of Luckey for her help at the scene.
Prior to being honored at the banquet, Wilson credited his training in the Army. "The way I knew how
to do all that, I used my combat life-saver skills," he said, adding, "I wonder how many war
veterans have been able to use their skills to help people in their community."
After he received his plaque Friday, Wilson seconded the urging of an awardee before him, about audience
members taking time to learn CPR and first aid. "You never know when you’ll be called to
help," he said. "If you know what to do, you will save someone’s life."
Following Wilson’s comments, nominator Perry credited Wilson with risking his life by jumping off the
roof. He thanked the veteran for both his service to the EMS squad (in giving life-saving CPR before it
arrived) and for his service to our country.
In addition to Wilson, many of the honorees were able to tap into their military, medical or emergency
trainings to help others in a critical time of need.
Besides working at NorthWest Community Corrections Center, Rachel Borders of Weston is a soldier with the
Army Reserves. She helped save farmer Dean Sautter when his clothes caught on fire in March while
burning stubble from his field. After his flaming clothing had been removed, she used her military
training to see he was going into shock from his severe burns and worked to reduce his shock level.
"I just did what I thought somebody would do," Borders said after receiving her plaque.
Sautter, now 85, was able to attend the banquet briefly but was unable to stay for the program. Instead,
his grandson, Andrew Sautter, thanked Borders for her "inner strength and courage" in saving
his grandfather’s life. "He would not have been here today if she had not stopped to help," he
said. Along with Sautter’s daughter, Marilyn Baker, the grandson embraced Borders for her Good Samaritan
aid, the first time the two had been able to meet her.
Bowling Green resident Jenny Ashman is a registered nurse in Flower Hospital’s intensive care unit who
used her skills in CPR to bring a pulse back to a little boy, 7, who had been pulled lifeless from the
city’s pool. He has since made a full recovery.
Ashman credited her 6-year-old daughter, Kaylee, who alerted her that evening to a little boy who was
"hurt." "Without her I wouldn’t have known about it," she said, "and it would
have been a lot longer" getting help to him.
Sandra Schroeder of Perrysburg Township has CPR skills and was able to aid Rebecca Wells, 8, when she was
hit by a car on Reitz Road last May. Together with a volunteer firefighter at the scene, Schroeder
resuscitated Wells, and her pulse returned.
The little girl died two days later, but Schroeder was able to announce that six of the child’s organs
were donated to help six other children live.
"Although Rebecca didn’t make it, six sets of parents have their children who did," she stated.
Adriane Weisert tapped into her training as a Red Cross instructor when she witnessed a car-scooter
accident in the busy intersection of West Wooster and South Church streets. Even though the scooter
driver, 71, had flipped over the vehicle and was face down on the asphalt, she did not move him, but
talked to him to keep him conscious.
Weisert admitted even though she had Red Cross training she did not check for safety at the time of the
incident. "So please, check for safety for people, and please, get trained in CPR," she said,
noting audience members never know when they might need to put those skills into action.
Lake Township Police Sgt. James Goodenough received his award for using the Heimlich Maneuver to save a
man’s life when he was choking on food. He told the audience the incident "opened my eyes to the
medical field, EMTs, doctors, nurses, who do this on a daily basis. My hat goes off to you. You are the
Bowling Green police officers Adam Skaff and Tyson Richmond were honored for using their CPR skills to
save the life of a man who had a heart attack late one night while at work. They also provided a police
escort through town for the ambulance.