Blaine man honored as ‘real hero’ at Red Cross event

Published on Thu, Dec 8, 2011 by Carissa Wright

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Daniel DeBruin, c., was recognized December 1 at a Mt. Baker Red Cross dinner honoring 19 real heroes. Photo by Jeanne McGee, Art of Photography.

Daniel DeBruin was on his way home from work as a police officer in Sumas when he heard a call come over the scanner for an unresponsive person.

“I always have my scanner on,” the Blaine resident said, and he knew he’d arrive faster to the scene than emergency personnel. Just a minute or two later, he was met outside the home by the unresponsive man’s family.

Because of a language barrier, DeBruin wasn’t sure what had happened to cause the man to fall unconscious, but he looked around the apartment and noticed the family appeared to have been eating dinner.

“I figured there’s a good possibility this guy is choking,” he said. So he hoisted the unconscious man up as best he could and performed the Heimlich maneuver. The man roused a little, and DeBruin was able to get him on his feet to perform the Heimlich again before he again stopped breathing.

“The next thing I knew, his family was hugging me,” DeBruin said. The second Heimlich thrusts were enough to dislodge the obstacle blocking the man’s breathing, and the man has now made a full recovery.

DeBruin was one of 19 real heroes honored at the annual Mt. Baker Red Cross fundraising dinner on December 1 in Bellingham.

Keynote speaker Steve Clarke, executive director of teaching and learning for the Bellingham school district, spoke of what the honorees all had in common.

“These people threw their fears aside,” he said, “and a willingness to do that is vital for the health of our community.”
Clarke was there for a personal reason as well – two of his sons were being recognized for saving the life of a man who was drowning in Lake Chelan.

Not one of the people being recognized said they thought of themselves as a hero, a sentiment DeBruin echoed.

“I just considered it my job and duty as a first responder and police officer,” he said.