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St. Louis County Presents 911 LifeSaver Award to Local Heroes


                                       PRESS RELEASE


September 22, 2008                                                     CONTACT:    Ross Litman, Sheriff

                                                                                                            St. Louis County Courthouse

Duluth, MN   218-726-2340

For Immediate Release:


St. Louis County Presents 911 LifeSaver Award to Local Heroes


The St. Louis County Board will present its 911 LifeSaver Award to four local heroes on Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 9:30 AM in the Greenwood Town Hall, 3000 County Road 77, Tower, MN.  Since 1993, St. Louis County has recognized the efforts of those individuals who have worked together, often risking their own safety, to save the lives of others.  Not only does the 911 LifeSaver Award honor those worthy of such recognition, but it also provides valuable information to the public on how the County’s 911 system works.


The LifeSaver Awards ceremony scheduled for Tuesday will focus on four people who showed great courage at the site of a tragic automobile accident last April, when a vehicle slid off Hwy 21 into the icy waters of the Bear Island River in Morse Township. These four performed extraordinary life-saving efforts to free the vehicle’s occupants, John and Carol Blomberg, from the river. Curtis Laine, Sandra Wills, Roy (Sam) Tuomala, Jr., and Lawrence (Luke) Tweit will be honored by the St. Louis County Board and the County Sheriff for their efforts on that day.


The Awards ceremony will also recognize the family of John and Carol Blomberg, and the first responder group, ambulance crews, law enforcement officers, and the 911 dispatchers who were involved in the event.  Below is a brief description of the emergency, and the role that each award recipient played during the incident.


Synopsis of the LifeSaver Award Event:


On the morning of April 28, 2008 Emergency Communication Specialist (ESC) Laura Vukmanich at the Virginia 911 center received a call from a female stating that a male, later identified as Curtis Laine, called and told her that a vehicle had just rolled into the Bear Island River off Hwy 21 in Morse Township.  Mr. Laine told the caller he was going in the water to attempt a rescue of the occupants. With the information provided, Ms. Vukmanich determined the exact location of the accident, and within minutes of the call, help was on the way. Emergency Communication Specialist Dana Nelson dispatched Deputy Wes Snyder from the Ely Sheriff’s Office and ECS Dianne Murrer-Mclaughlin dispatched multiple rescue and ambulance services including the Morse-Fall Lake First Responders, Babbitt Ambulance and Rescue, and the Ely Ambulance Service.


At the accident scene Mr. Laine and another passerby, Sandra Wills, were both waist deep in the frigid water trying to extricate the occupants of the vehicle which was upside down in the river. They forced open the passenger door of the Jeep Wrangler and found a female, later identified as Carol Blomberg, floating in the vehicle. They pulled her out and brought her to shore. She was coughing and choking on water. Since it was unknown if any other occupants were in the Jeep, Mr. Laine and Ms. Wills went back into the water along with Luke Tweit and Sam Tuomala who had also stopped to assist.


After a few minutes they found another occupant belted into the driver’s seat. The seatbelt was cut and the male, later identified as John Blomberg, was removed from the vehicle and brought to shore where CPR was initiated. At this point, Deputy Snyder arrived on scene. CPR continued until Mr. Blomberg was transported to the Ely Hospital by the Babbitt Ambulance Service. Mrs. Blomberg was transported to the Ely Hospital by the Ely Ambulance Service. According to Deputy Snyder’s report, the cause of the accident was slippery road conditions due to frost cover in certain areas of the road that had been shaded from the morning sun.


Sadly, despite the best efforts of all involved Mr. Blomberg did not survive the accident. Mrs. Blomberg was hospitalized for some time, but thanks to the courageous and unselfish actions of the four recipients of the 911 Lifesaver Award she is alive and well today.


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