Local Hero: Mao Vang


Presented to an individual who, during a crisis, provided medical assistance including CPR and/or first aid to a person in need.

Experts say the ability to live in the moment—and not panic over what could happen—is one of the most important factors in handling a crisis. Mao Vang, an employee at Wingspan Life Resources, proved that she has what it takes to successfully handle a crisis.

When a Hmong woman collapsed in the middle of an activity at the Tsev Laus Kaj Siab adult day program, she knew what to do. The program is geared toward adults within the Hmong community who are elderly or disabled. The women who collapsed did not respond to verbal and physical prompts.

“It looked like her life was gone,” Mao recalls.

Mao—knowing there wasn’t much time—didn’t think twice about initiating CPR.

Her most recent CPR training was last summer, taught by a Hmong instructor at the Twin Cities Red Cross.

It proved to be an invaluable class.

After Mao administered CPR, the woman was able to get enough oxygen to sustain her until emergency medical technicians arrived and brought her to the emergency room. At the hospital, doctors determined that the woman had an underlying heart condition that required a pacemaker.

Without Mao’s swift actions, the outcome could’ve been much worse.

Mao has worked at the center since it opened in 2001.

Her supervisor, Nancy Schafer, describes Mao as “quiet, calm, and respectful” especially when working with those who are “frail and limited in their ability to access health care due to language and cultural barriers.” 

Mao says she loves her job and really enjoys working with the elders. “I learn from them, and in return, I get to help them.”

She is honored that the Red Cross is giving her an award, but says it is thanks enough to come to work and see the Hmong elder participating in activities again after making a full recovery.