Annual Ceremony Honors Loudoun Heroes.
This year marks the most ever civilian recipients of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce Valor Awards.
This year’s ceremony will recognize 107 local heroes — 87 career and volunteer emergency first responders and 20 civilians. The civilian awards are the most ever granted as part of the chamber’s annual salute to acts of selfless heroism and lifesaving courage displayed by first responders and ordinary citizens during emergency situations. The Valor Awards ceremony will be held April 20 at the National Conference Center.
Civilian recipients will include two members of the nursing faculty at Monroe Technology Center (MTC).
MTC Director of Nursing Eileen Axeman and Tonya Helman, who oversees Practical Nursing II, were taking part in their graduation day ritual last June 8 when they got to practice what they teach. Each year on the date of the MTC graduation, Axeman and Helman go to the post office on Catoctin Circle in Leesburg to mail student transcripts to the Virginia Board of Nursing.
They were driving back to Monroe when Helman saw a man lying on the sidewalk near the Yummy Pig restaurant with several people around him, one of whom was performing CPR, Loudoun County Public School officials said.
Axeman, who was driving, swung into a nearby parking spot and the two went to work.
“They saw us running and all they could say is ‘Are you nurses?'” Axeman said in a release. ‘They went ‘Everybody out of the way, the nurses are here.'”
Helman and Axeman are both registered nurses with long hospital careers. ”
This is kind of routine for us,” Axeman said.
Still, while they had performed CPR in a clinical setting, this was the first time they’d done it in the field. Helman cleared the man’s airways and Axeman performed chest compressions until paramedics arrived.
“I wouldn’t think about not doing it,” Axeman said. “It wouldn’t have occurred to me not to. I think that’s because we’ve been nurses for so long.”
James Vigil Berg, 75 of Leesburg, was without pulse or respiration when Axeman and Helman initiated CPR. Berg was resuscitated by EMTs, but passed away 10 days later. Berg’s wife, Martine Berg, told the Valor Awards Committee she is thankful to Helman and Axeman because it allowed for the additional time with her husband.
Axeman said she and Helman feel good about the incident because they stopped and did what they could.
“He didn’t die on the street all by himself,” she said.