Cooper Employee Honored With Heroism Award for Saving Man’s Life

Cooper Co-CEO Kevin O’Dowd, honoree Yesenia “Yesi” Santiago, and Co-CEO Dr. Anthony Mazzarelli

Yesenia “Yesi´ Santiago, a non-medical case manager for Cooper University Health Care’s Early Intervention Program (EIP), was honored with the Cooper Heroism Award for saving a man’s life in the community during the summer. Cooper Co-CEOs Kevin O’Dowd and Anthony Mazzarelli presented the award to Yesi during a recent ceremony.

“Cooper is fortunate and proud to have caring, committed employees like Yesi who go over and above for their fellow citizens,” said O’Dowd.

“We commend Yesi for her selflessness and quick thinking, which saved a man’s life,” said Mazzarelli.

The event took place in August, when Yesi was driving through Camden and noticed an unresponsive man lying on the ground near a park. Two other citizens were shouting for help when Yesi stopped to assist. She felt for the man’s pulse which was barely palpable and noticed the man was not breathing. One of the bystanders left but the other stayed when Yesi told him she needed his help to perform CPR.

Yesi looked up CPR on YouTube because it had been a couple of years since she was last certified, and she wanted to make sure she did it right. As she was watching the video, she started performing chest compressions as the other citizen called 911.

While waiting for EMTs, another citizen arrived and administered Narcan. The man’s color slowly returned with the chest compressions, and he briefly regained consciousness. Yesi stayed with the man until EMTs arrived and she was able to report all the events. Yesi says the man had fully regained consciousness and was breathing on his own when he left in the ambulance. Yesi says that she knew this man would die if she did not stop and try to help.

Yesi has been a Cooper employee for 22 years and with its EIP since 2005. Yesi works as the Housing Ambassador for Cooper’s state-funded, non-medical case management services helping to prevent homelessness and help homeless patients get access to housing services. Yesi has lived in Camden most of her life, and this is not the first time she has stopped to help a fellow citizen in need.

Cooper established the Cooper Heroism Award in 2019 to honor employees who have demonstrated heroic efforts in the community. The first Cooper Heroism award was presented to John Bishop who jumped from his car to rescue a woman from an attacker alongside Route 73 in Mt. Laurel, NJ in August 2019.  Earlier this year, Cooper presented its second Heroism Award to advanced practice nurse Entela “Annie” Ahmeti who revived a man who had stopped breathing while working out at a local gym. Thanks to Ahmeti’s efforts, the man made a full recovery.


Contact: Wendy A. Marano
Cooper University Health Care


  1. Luz

    Congratulations yesi you are the best !! I know for a fact that you love to patient in and out of work !! Keep up the good work. Yesi and I work together for about 15 yrs together. Once again yesi congratulations!!

  2. Mayrim Rodriguez

    I’m very proud of you
    Not only Camden but the whole world need more people like you
    God bless you!!!
    Love you
    Your cousin

  3. Sue Cooper

    Congratulations, Yesi! I am so happy for you!

    I worked in EIP years ago. Yesi had then and still is a truly caring individual. She should be Employee of the Year!

  4. Normali Santiago

    I’m Proud of you!!…Congratulations on this well deserved award. This is not the first time yesi goes out of her way to care for someone she is amazing, the rock to our family!

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