Several members of the Carson City Fire Department were recently honored for going above and beyond the call of duty.
At the department’s first End of the Year Awards Banquet the leadership honored those who were given the Meritorious Conduct Medal and the Life Saving Medal over the years.
“My personal philosophy is that we need to recognize outstanding levels of service,” said Chief Sean Slamon. “As firefighters we don’t seek accolades for our actions, and because of that it can be easy to forget all of the great achievements performed by our members every year.”
Ten firefighter/paramedics were honored with the awards for their actions over the last few years.
“I am absolutely proud of the sacrifices the men and women of this organization make on a daily basis for the community and each other,” Slamon said. “It is nothing short of amazing so I am certainly proud, but not surprised at their selfless actions.”
Eight were given the Meritorious Conduct Award, the fourth highest honor members are eligible to receive, which is given to a member of the department who performs a notable act of distinction in the performance of duty and reflects the integrity and devotion shown by the recipient.
Capt. Dan Albee, Capt. Scott Baker, Capt. Cory Petty, Capt. Brad Mihelic, driver/operator Bryon Hunt, Firefighter Dan Gelbman and Firefighter Jeff Linscott received the Meritorious Conduct award for two moments in the history of the Carson City Fire Department when the members provided honorary guard of the fallen, logistics for the families and numerous members to support and care for the families of fallen Battalion Chief Richard Chrzanowski and Sheriff Deputy Carl Howell.
Driver/operator Sam Saunders also received the Meritorious Conduct award for his numerous hours on and off duty working on capturing specific identities in fire department history for the historic challenge coins, individual badge and helmet shield numbering and overall implementation of traditional identification system for all members.
Four members also received the Life Saving Medal, the third highest award, which is given to a member of the department who’s principally involved in saving the life of another person and whose actions were directly responsible for the lifesaving act.
Firefighter Jim White received this award for a 2013 incident. White was off duty and driving through Carson and while sitting at a red light, he noticed an uncontrolled car travel through the intersection. The driver had experienced a medical emergency and lost the capacity to operate the vehicle, crashing it into a building. White stopped to help the victim and entered the vehicle at great personal risk to himself to help stabilize the unresponsive patient’s cervical spine and airway, said Deputy Chief Chris Vaughn. He stayed with the patient until on-duty firefighters could arrive to take over.
“(White) is an exemplary firefighter and role model,” said Vaughn.
Firefighter Travis Boggs was nominated for two Life Saving awards for 2008 and 2015 incidents.
In 2008, while off duty Boggs provided care when a teenager was struck by a falling tree. The boy was chopping firewood nearby with his father when one of the trees fell, struck the boy and caused major head trauma. The father drove the teen to an unstaffed fire station and began shouting for help. Boggs, who was off duty at a nearby residence, heard the screams and ran over where he assessed, treated and coordinated air transport to the hospital. The boy survived the incident.
In 2015, Boggs and the rest of Engine 52’s crew responded to a structure fire at La Loma Drive, where fire and smoke were pouring out of the residence. The crew was told multiple victims may be inside and Boggs and his captain made entry and found the house fully charged with smoke. After knocking down the fire, they found a teenage boy lying on his bed in his room and Boggs carried the semi-conscious teenager to the front door. He initiated basic life support and the teen was transported with minor smoke inhalation and was released from the hospital that same day.
Capt. Brad Mihelic received a Life Saving award for a 2008 incident where he saved a young child who was about to ride her tricycle out into traffic. He jumped out of the rescue and grabbed her seconds before she would have been hit by an oncoming car, Vaughn said.
And driver/operator Bryon Hunt received the Life Saving Award for his actions during the deadly 2011 Reno Air Races crash. Hunt was off duty with his family at the event when a modified P-41 shot upward in the air, rolled to the right and plunged out of a narrow loop to crash just in front of the viewing sections. Hunt provided aid to multiple victims and rode in the back of an ambulance to the hospital helping treat a patient.
“In total there were 11 deaths and 69 injuries, if it wasn’t for Hunt and other bystanders’ quick actions, the death toll could have been much higher,” Vaughn said.
In addition to the awards, the department honored the 20 new hires and four retires the department saw in 2017.
“It is so important to instill a sense of pride in family and I believe when you feel like you belong in something greater than you, it will raise your level of performance,” Slamon said. “We coined it the year of change for the department, we had roughly 25 percent of our organization brand new and had seven promotions, saw retirements of four from our organization with more than 120 years combined service to the community. So there is a lot of experience out the door but it is the start of so many new careers and responsibilities for so many and I couldn’t be more proud of how our organization adapted to change.”
This was the first year the department held this event, something Slamon said is essential for a department to recognize accomplishments for firefighters and their loved ones.
“It was beyond my expectations, it was a great evening ... just to get everyone together in their dress uniforms with their significant others and families invited and it was nice to see and nice to give the families an insight into what the men and women of our organization do every day and share in those moments with us.”