The heroes among us

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The good Samaritans who saved the lives of countless elderly patients at Goodwin House two years ago are three of the 2007 Carnegie Medal recipients.

John C. Springer and Amadu Jalloh of Alexandria and Jane Dow of Arlington received the award and a $5,000 grant last week. All three helped to disarm Mustafa Mohamed, who injured a coworker, four elderly residents and Springer in a Jan. 9, 2005, incident at the Goodwin House retirement home. Mohamed was found not guilty by reason of insanity last year and has been committed to the Virginia Department of Mental Health for treatment.

The incident began when Mohamed entered Jeanne Hobbs office at Goodwin House on a quiet Sunday afternoon and attacked her with a knife. Springer, who was visiting an elderly relative, heard Hobbs screams, and came to her rescue. He shouted at Mohamed to stop and then grabbed his arm. Mohamed turned on Springer, pulled him to the floor and cut his head and face. His wounds required 48 stitches.

Mohamed left Hobbs office and went to another wing on the floor. Jalloh, a home health aid, was working on private duty on the floor. Dow was visiting an elderly resident. They heard screams in the corridor and went to see what was happening. Jalloh recognized Mohamed and shouted at him to stop, as he entered the room of a patient. Dow, who had a can of pepper spray, saw Mohamed attacking another patient. Mohamed knocked her to the floor but she and Jalloh were able to use the pepper spray and Jalloh was able to take the knife from Mohamed. Jalloh helped to detain Mohamed until police arrived. When Mohamed struck a responding police officer, Jalloh, once again, intervened and helped to subdue Mohamed.

The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission has been recognizing heroism since 1904, when it was started by industrialist/philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Each year, medals are awarded to those who risk their lives saving or attempting to save the lives of others. Since 1904, the fund has given $29.3 million in grants, scholarship aid, death benefits and continuing assistance to 9,073 heroes.

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