Red Cross Awards National Honors to Four Lifesaving Heroes in Gillett, Wisconsin

Posted on 7-20-2023

On Sunday, July 23, 2023, Jennifer Fenendael, Keri Hicks, Kurt Hicks, and Claduette Tipton will receive the American Red Cross Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action for the heroic actions they exhibited in saving the life of Wayne Strei.

On Tuesday evening, April 19, 2022, while performing at a spring cantata, Wayne Strei, the musician at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Gillett, had a medical emergency which caused him to become unresponsive.

Jennifer Fenendael was the first on scene to provide help to Strei. Gillett Fire Chief Kurt Hicks and Emergency Medical Responder Claudette Tipton were also in the church at the time and began cardiopulmonary compressions (CPR). Meanwhile Keri Hicks, Kurt’s wife, called 911 while Kurt Hicks and Tipton used an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to deliver an electrical shock to Wayne with the hopes of restoring a heart rhythm. EMTs then arrived on the scene and assumed care for Strei.

“Having an AED in the right place at the right time, made a significant difference in Strei’s life,” said Fire Chief Hicks. Having an AED onsite can reduce response time and improve the chances of survival for someone suffering from sudden cardiac arrest. Surely this was a contributing lifesaving measure.”

“The Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action is given to individuals, like Jennifer, Keri, Kurt, and Claudette who step up in an emergency situation and help save or sustain a life,” said Beckie Pinnow, Interim Executive Director, Northeast Wisconsin Chapter of the Red Cross. “These individuals exemplify the mission of the Red Cross to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies, and are to be commended for their willingness to help another in distress.”

An emergency can happen when you least expect it and being prepared and knowing how to respond can truly make the difference. in saving a life of another.

“You can’t handpick those who come into your life, but I can honestly say I couldn’t have picked a better foursome to be my lifesavers,” said Strei. “I think it’s so important for everyone to know CPR as you never know when you will need to help another person. If it were not for them, I would not be here. I hope that by sharing my story others will be inspired to get trained.”

The Red Cross of Northeast Wisconsin will be at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Gillett for the presentation that will occur after the conclusion of the 9:30am service this coming Sunday (July 23rd).