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School of Veterinary Medicine Faculty and Staff Are Red Cross Heroes

December 7, 2006

Amazing tales of service, quick thinking and life-saving action were told when Yolo County's "American Red Cross Heroes Luncheon" took place December 7 on the UC Davis campus.

Eleven individuals and groups of nominated heroes were honored during the sixth annual recognition event, among them veterinary students and members of the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital faculty and staff who stepped up to assist during emergencies. 

From the School of Veterinary Medicine, the following individuals received Red Cross Heroes Awards:


As "good Samaritans" from the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, Dr. Shannon Riggs, Dr. Janelle Wierenga and veterinary technician Jennifer Boyles, along with David Stiles, Gina Updegraff and Nicole Vlahos of the UC Davis Fire Department, were recognized for doing CPR and saving the life of a man visiting the hospital last February. In a video story, Boyles described going to a couple's car to help them move an animal when the owner, a 66-year-old man, fell over in the parking lot. Boyles ran to the emergency phone to summon aid, but as the only one on the scene besides the man's wife, Boyles realized that it would be up to her to respond. "I thought: 'Somebody has to help him,' and I was the one." 

She and the woman began CPR on the man. Soon Dr. Shannon Riggs, who at that time was a Zoological Medicine resident, joined the effort, and Dr. Janelle Wierenga of the Small Animal Emergency Service, brought oxygen down to the parking lot as a small crowd began to gather.

As the fire truck neared the area, others directed firefighters to the scene. The firefighters used a defibrillator and continued to treat the man. He eventually regained consciousness and began to talk to his rescuers.

Boyles said in her video vignette, "You never know how you're going to react in such a situation. It's a good feeling to know you can do something."
Dr. Wierenga, standing at the podium, said, "We see patients dying all the time, but it's not the same as with people. All I was doing was holding the oxygen. It was an amazing experience. I'm glad I was part of that."


Father MadiganIn the category of "animal rescue," Dr. John Madigan was honored for his compassionate work with area ranchers and their sheep following the Sept. 22 wildfires in Zamora that burned more than 1,000 sheep. He led a group of 37 students and more than a dozen faculty and staff members, all volunteering as part of the Veterinary Emergency Response Team, to rescue and care for the sheep that could be saved. See related stories of September 26 and September 29.

Rancher Bruce Rodegerdts, who lost many sheep during the ordeal, said in his video interview, "What impressed me most was that they (Madigan, Joan Rowe, et al) kept asking, 'How are you doing?' They care about the whole picture."

Madigan thanked the Red Cross and credited Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef for making the point that the university should be involved with the surrounding community. He added that the experience involved community service, but also contributed to the teaching and research mission of UC Davis. Madigan himself recognized the dozens of volunteers and singled out veterinary student Mario Dinucci and staff member Delaina Matz for their roles in the rescue project. 

Student visits to the ranches involved, Madigan said, helped the owners adjust to the situation. He concluded, "I'm proud of all our students, but the entire school was involved in the situation."