Ladena Rutland and Susan Seitzberg were recognized on July 18 for their roles in saving strangers.
With family, community members and deputies packed into a room at the Flagler County Sheriff’s Operations Center in Bunnell on the afternoon of July 18, Sheriff Rick Staly honored two local women for their roles in saving the lives of strangers.
Ladena Rutland, who rushed two boys to the hospital following a fireworks mishap, and Susan Seitzberg, who provided aid to a gunshot victim, were both presented with Lifesaving Awards for their actions.
Rutland was on her way home from church at St. James Missionary Baptist on July 10 when she heard a loud bang. She turned to see two boys running from a ladies’ restroom at the Dr. Carver Park gym. The restroom was billowing smoke.
The boys, 8 and 11 years old, were playing with fireworks when the fireworks blew up. The explosion damaged the left hand of one child, who lost all of his fingers, and it burned the face and chest of the other boy, Staly said.
Rutland made the boys get into her car and sped them over to the emergency room at Florida Hospital Flagler.
“It was just a reaction,” said Rutland, who has two adult children of her own. “I’d do it again if I had to.”
Staly said he contacted Shriners Hospitals for Children — a hospital network with locations that specialize in burn injuries and can create medical prostheses — to get the boys the treatment they need.
“We’re hoping that the Shriners will accept these kids,” he said. “The first step in trying to get them free care, paid for by the Shriners. ... Hopefully we’ll be successful and help these kids out.”
As for Seitzberg, she was at home on June 24 when her nephew burst in to tell her there was a man with a gunshot wound lying on the garage floor of Seitzberg’s parents’ house next door.
Seitzberg, a nurse at FHF with nearly 25 years of experience, knew what to do.
“I just grabbed my medical kit, which I keep in the house all the time, and went running over there,” she said.
Seitzberg said the victim was bleeding profusely from the upper chest. She said she immediately applied pressure to the wound and tried to keep the man conscious by talking to him until paramedics and law enforcement officers arrived.
The victim, who was 19 years old, was airlifted to Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach.
“He just kept saying, ‘Don’t let me die,’” Seitzberg said. “I said, ‘I’m not gonna let you die. You’re not gonna die on my watch.’”