American Red Cross Honors Cherry Point Employees for Saving A Life

American Red Cross of Eastern North Carolina
Photo by: Tawanna Smith

Nonprofit to Present Lifesaving Award to Vanessa Batungbakal and Draginja Barbour on Feb. 27 at Cherry Point

In early April, Vanessa Batungbakal and Draginja Barbour called on their American Red Cross training in Lifeguarding and CPR/First Aid to save the life of an elderly man who collapsed on a treadmill at the Devil Dog Gym at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. For this heroic and lifesaving action, Batungbakal and Barbour will receive the Red Cross Lifesaving Award for Professional Responders in a ceremony on Feb. 27, at 1 p.m. at the Devil Dog Gym on Cherry Point.

The Lifesaving Award for Professional Responders is the highest award given by the Red Cross to individuals or group of individuals who save or sustain a life using skills learned in a Red Cross Training Services course.

“We’re extremely proud to present a Lifesaving Award for Professional Responders to Vanessa and Draginja,” said Robin Callahan, Red Cross of Eastern NC Service to the Armed Forces Director. “Their actions exemplify our mission to help people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.”

Batungbakal was working at the front desk of the gym when the incident occurred and a gym goer ran to the front desk, asking for help. Batungbakal, along with co-worker Barbour, sprang into action. Batungbakal analyzed the man and attached an AED to deliver necessary shocks. Soon after, the man began breathing on his own and Cherry Point EMS arrived.

“Courage and the power to remain calm while going through any situation will get you through it,” Batungbakal said. “Don’t hesitate to act and remember what you were taught to do, and you can get through anything in life whether it’s big or small,” Batungbakal, a military spouse, will report to Marine Corps boot camp herself at the end of February.

About the incident, Barbour added, “Adrenaline hits you when you see someone unconscious. Your training kicks in so you can do what is needed to do to help the person in need. Courage also plays a big role in helping.”

Each year, the Red Cross teaches lifesaving skills to an average of more than 9 million people in businesses, schools and communities. Red Cross training gives people the knowledge and skills to act in an emergency and save a life. A variety of online, blended (online and in-person skills session) and classroom courses are available at

If you or someone you know has used skills and knowledge learned in an American Red Cross Training Services course to help save or sustain the life of another individual, visit to nominate, recognize, or be inspired.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

Submitted by: Brittany Jennings, Red Cross of Eastern NC