Six Richmond Hill firefighters and a city police officer were honored Thursday for their roles in saving two people’s lives earlier this year.
The seven public safety officers all received the Richmond Hill Fire Department Life-Saving Award in a ceremony at RHFD Station 1. One of the firefighters, Jordan Johnson, also was named Richmond Hill’s Firefighter of the Year.
Firefighters Lt. Joe Forlenza, Sgt. Sean Curry and Brandon Woods and police Sgt. Ray Fowler were credited with saving the life of a man who stopped breathing at a grocery store on Feb. 11. Just 28 days later, firefighters Johnson, Lt. Michelle Meacham and Brendan Greene rescued a man from a burning apartment on March 11.
“This is the first time we’ve done awards like this,” said Richmond Hill Fire Chief Ralph Catlett. “We had two saves in less than a month, and I felt like we needed to recognize them.”
Forlenza, Curry and Woods responded to a call of a cardiac arrest at Food Lion, where Fowler was performing CPR on a man in the parking lot. The firefighters joined Fowler in taking life-saving measures, applying a defibrillator and administering oxygen.
The man began breathing again, and the officers continued tending to him until an ambulance arrived. The patient regained consciousness at St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital.
The following month, Meacham, Johnson and Greene were called to a fire at Ashton Apartments. A bystander told them that one person was still inside the apartment.
While Greene connected to a hydrant and pulled the hose lines from the truck, Meacham and Johnson went inside the smoke-filled building. They found a man unconscious and barely breathing on the living room floor.
They pulled the man from the apartment, and Greene gave medical treatment until EMS arrived. The crew went back into the apartment and extinguished the fire in the kitchen.
“Some firefighters and police officers go their entire career without actually knowing whether or not their life-saving efforts were successful,” said RHFD Fire Marshal David Williams. “Many times, once the patient is loaded onto an ambulance, that’s the last we hear about it. So this was a special opportunity to honor them for two unusual events that happened in such a short time.”
The award recognized the officers for “their quick and spontaneous action” to save lives. Richmond Hill Police Chief Billy Reynolds commended them for knowing what to do in a moment’s notice.
“These officers reacted and placed in motion their training which resulted in saving a life,” Reynolds said. “I'm proud of each one of them and I hope that the citizens of this community recognize the importance of what these professionals do every day to serve and protect our citizens.”