Pietrzak and Weikert Receive Humanitarian Awards

What would you do if you witnessed a car accident? Would you stop and try to assist? Professional driver Tom Pietrzak and his student Dodie Weikert were faced with the same question and, for them, the answer was clear.

While southbound on Highway 55 in Illinois June 15, 2013, Pietrzak and Weikert witnessed a Dodge Caravan lose control and roll several times. Pietrzak immediately made the decision to stop and help.

Weikert, a trained paramedic, ran to the driver’s side of the vehicle to assist the female driver, who was unresponsive and bleeding. She mobilized the driver’s spine and opened her airway while Pietrzak controlled a crowd of bystanders. In the back seat, the pair discovered a 15-day-old infant, in a car seat tipped sideways, and a 3-year-old child, unrestrained by a seatbelt. After attempting to break a back window with various tools, Pietrzak used his hand to punch through the window and pull the baby to safety.

“Certainly Tom is one of those kind of people who decides to stop,” said Chris Polenz, assistant vice president of Human Resources. “We always hope we are those kind of people, and we would take similar actions if presented in a similar circumstance.”

Weikert, a certified emergency technician with seven years of critical care, ambulance and hospital experience, humbly referred to her actions that day as second nature.

“I hope I didn’t do anything that anyone else wouldn’t have done,” she said. “I am deeply honored to have received this award.”

Humanitarian awards honor those who demonstrate lifesaving efforts, selflessly helping others in a time of need.

Nissen Honored with Humanitarian Award

One never expects an impromptu visit to a friend’s house to turn into a life or death situation, but thankfully Steve Nissen, heavy equipment appraiser, was prepared.

On the evening of Aug. 14 in Weeping Water, Neb., Nissen was visiting his friend and co-worker, Dixie Norris, when she began having speech difficulties and fell convulsing from her chair. While 911 was dialed and a neighbor ran for help, Nissen rolled Norris, who had no pulse and was not breathing, on her back and began chest compressions. Norris soon began breathing and regained consciousness by the time the ambulance arrived.

“I got lucky,” said Nissen, who has had no formal medical training.

Lucky or not, his heroic actions were recognized and honored Sept. 20 with a Humanitarian award.

“It gives me a great, great honor to present somebody who is not only a true friend of ours in our hometown, but someone who if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know where I would be today,” said Norris, who presented Nissen the award.

Humanitarian awards honor those who demonstrate lifesaving efforts and selflessly help others in a time of need.

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