Christopher Plaman Christopher Plaman
Credit: John Arnold

UNM med students to be honored as 'Real Heroes'

Trio of students among ten people recognized by the American Red Cross

When they heard screams for help, they didn’t hesitate to act. Now three University of New Mexico medical school students are being recognized as heroes for their role in helping to save the life of a gunshot victim.

The American Red Cross in New Mexico will honor Chris Plaman, Brittany Garcia and Tanya Ruiz with American Red Cross Real Hero awards at a ceremony on June 19.

Plaman and his colleagues applied first aid and kept neighbor Justin Schroer alert and awake after he was gunned down in a drive-by shooting while jogging through his university-area neighborhood last year.

“I didn’t think twice,” Plaman said about putting his medical training to use after hearing Schroer call for help. And while Plaman downplays his role, Schroer credits the med students – along with his UNM Hospital medical team – for helping to save his life.

Schroer, development director at the UNM Cancer Center, nominated the students for the upcoming awards.

“I remember they were asking me a lot of questions, trying to keep me alert and alive. I think they played a huge part in saving my life,” he said.

Among the award recipients is 17-year old girl scout Annika Cushnyr, who started a giving library at UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center to help improve literacy in New Mexico. In her blog, Cushnyr says the library has received thousands of books.

Other recipients, as described by the Albuqeurque Journal, include:

– Albuquerque Fire Department Capt. Jason Paiz, who rescued stranded motorists during severe flooding last year.

– Luvin’ Labs, a Labrador retriever rescue organization that has found homes for hundreds of dogs.

– Police officer Robert Mitchell, firefighter Darrell Lindsey and water utility worker James Baca, for evacuating residents of a burning apartment complex in Albuquerque.

– Cibola High School teacher Julie Dahl, who wrote and directed a play to raise money for students with special needs.

– Senior Airman Cody Chavez, who, during a school event, saved a 10-year-old choking victim.

– The Rowe Patrol Crew and Richard Garcia, who helped fight the Tres Lagunas Wildfire and provided disaster relief in its aftermath.

– Members of the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center Contracting Directorate for community service, which included donating hundreds of hours to tutor elementary school students and donating locally grown food to food banks.

– The Albuquerque Area Firefighters Random Acts organization, which performs “random acts of kindness” like this, for community members in need.

“We work with heroes everyday and we are recognizing these people and giving back,” said Beverly Allen, communications coordinator for the American Red Cross in Albuquerque. “We appreciate and value their good work,”

Allen said over the last six years the humanitarian organization has given out at least 60 Real Hero awards.

This year’s ceremony – a fundraiser – will take place June 19 at the UNM Student Union Ballroom beginning at 7:45 a.m. The cost is $100.

For more information about the fundraiser visit

Categories: Patient Care, Schools & Colleges, School of Medicine, Community

Related Stories

A Trauma Patient's Journey

A Trauma Patient's Journey

UNM Hospital's Level 1 Trauma Center treats more than 2,200 critically ill and injured patients every year. Many of these patients are the victims of senseless acts of violence. Justin Schroer, with a happy marriage, new home and promising career, never expected to be one of them.