BY STEVEN MAYER Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
When Dr. Rick McPheeters used his pocket knife and the hollow cylinder of a ball-point pen to perform an emergency tracheotomy on an accident victim who had stopped breathing, he wasn't thinking about becoming a hero.
He was thinking about saving a life.
When Kernville retailer Lucian Whitman dived into the Kern River to save a woman in imminent danger of drowning, he, too, wasn't thinking about awards or accolades.
"The biggest thing I had to overcome was the fear of failure," Whitman recalled in an interview with The Californian in 2011. "What if I couldn't get her out?
"So I made a vow to myself," he said. "Once I reach her, I'm not going to let her go."
McPheeters and Whitman are just two of hundreds of Kern County residents who have been honored by the American Red Cross-Kern Chapter for selfless acts performed since 2002.
The local Red Cross chapter is once again asking for nominations for its Real Heroes awards, an annual effort to recognize locals who have exhibited exemplary behavior or participated in the saving of a life.
Although heroic acts like Whitman's and McPheeters' are often spotlighted, the honor doesn't have to involve physical daring or danger. Many nominees are singled out for their volunteerism, their work with children, their skills in medicine, or their efforts to help others succeed.
"A lot of times people are recognized for the small acts they do that really make an impact," said Amy Mayer, volunteer coordinator for the local chapter.
"It's kind of nice to have a night to honor them and let the people of Kern County know about what they've done."
The categories include youth hero; female good Samaritan hero; male good Samaritan hero; law enforcement hero; fire rescue hero; community partner hero; health care hero; military hero; animal rescue hero; and spirit of the American Red Cross.
If you know someone who you think has shown extraordinary humanitarianism or courage in 2013, and that person is a Kern resident, visit the www.redcross.org/kernchapter events page for an online nomination form and more information about the categories.
Nomination forms may also be picked up at the local Red Cross office, at 5035 Gilmore Ave.
Mayer said the annual Real Heroes event -- those who are chosen will be honored at a dinner April 5 -- is a unique chance for the community to honor those who make the community better.
The nomination process closes Jan. 31.