Province Honours Heroic Firefighters And Police Officers



    Lieutenant Governor Awards Medals For Bravery

    TORONTO, Jan. 17 /CNW/ - Eight firefighters and 14 police officers will
be awarded tomorrow Ontario's top honours for bravery by the Province of
Ontario.
    The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, will
invest the recipients with medals at a Queen's Park ceremony on Friday while
Rick Bartolucci, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, will
present framed certificates. These medals are the province's highest award in
recognition of firefighters and police officers whose actions demonstrate
outstanding courage and bravery in the line of duty.
    "The work and commitment of the firefighters and police officers we will
honour tomorrow are a mark of their dedication to the safety of all
Ontarians," said Lieutenant Governor Onley. "I commend them for the exemplary
service they have provided to our communities."
    "The bestowing of the bravery medals is a reminder that there are those
who put their own lives at risk on a daily basis to keep the rest of us safe,"
Bartolucci said. "They have earned our respect and our admiration."

    
    The recipients of the Ontario Medal for Firefighter Bravery are:

    -   Captain James Hart, Acting Captain Terry Stewart and Firefighters
        Derrick Cherun and Mark Thornhill of the Toronto Fire Services
    -   Firefighter Michel Roland Proulx of the Greater Sudbury Fire Services
    -   Firefighter Robert Walker of the Hamilton Emergency Services
    -   Captain Pat Elliott and Firefighter Kevin Martin Harold Fillier of
        the Municipality of Trent Hills Fire Department.

    The recipients of the Ontario Medal for Police Bravery are:

    -   Provincial Constable Dan Bailey of the Ontario Provincial Police,
        Fort Frances Detachment
    -   Constable Dan Bartol of the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service
    -   Constables Trevor Bethune and Lester Tang of the Kingston Police
    -   Constable Daniel Gemmiti of the Peterborough Lakefield Community
        Police Service
    -   Provincial Constable Jack W. Gibson and Sergeant Bruce Sawbridge of
        the Ontario Provincial Police, Upper Ottawa Valley Detachment
    -   Provincial Constable Erik Howells of the Ontario Provincial Police,
        Thunder Bay Detachment
    -   Sergeant Roland Morrison and Constable Jeff Levesque of the
        Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service
    -   Provincial Constables James Orser and Bruce Thompson of the Ontario
        Provincial Police, Northumberland Detachment
    -   Acting Deputy Chief John Andrew Mellon and Constable Shawn Charles
        Piercey of the Pembroke Police Service.

    An independent body of citizens representing all regions of Ontario
determines medal recipients. A total of 175 Ontario Medals for Firefighter
Bravery have been awarded since 1976 and 195 Ontario Medals for Police Bravery
have been awarded since 1975.

    Disponible en français

                           www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca


    Backgrounder
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                  THE ONTARIO MEDAL FOR FIREFIGHTER BRAVERY
    

    The Ontario Medal for Firefighter Bravery was created in 1976 and is
awarded annually.

    Ontario Medal for Firefighter Bravery Recipients:

    Captain James Hart, Acting Captain Terry Stewart and
    Firefighters Derrick Cherun and Mark Thornhill
    Toronto Fire Services

    On February 7, 2006, a 911 caller reported that some Toronto Transit
Commission workers had been overcome by carbon monoxide in the Eglinton subway
tunnel. Captain James Hart was first on the scene. He walked deep into the
tunnel to ensure that power had been cut to the third rail. Firefighters Terry
Stewart and Derrick Cherun followed and tended to the workers who had lost
consciousness. Captain Hart tried repeatedly to contact Toronto Fire
Communications for backup, but he could not get through and the difficulty of
communicating underground was adding to the tension. Concerned with the
communications breakdown, Firefighter Mark Thornhill, who had remained on the
platform, decided to enter the subway tunnel. He rushed to the site with two
extra one-hour self-contained breathing apparatus air tanks. He reached the
workers and immediately began sharing his oxygen with them. Everyone survived
a gas leak in the Toronto subway system thanks to the quick intervention of
four Toronto firefighters.

    Firefighter Michel Roland Proulx
    Greater Sudbury Fire Services

    On March 29, 2007, Firefighter Michel Proulx was awakened by his dog
barking. He looked outside and saw that the residence across the street was on
fire with flames exiting the front doors. He quickly put on the bunker gear he
kept at his residence and ran to the burning house. Three bystanders indicated
that someone was still inside. Before Firefighter Proulx could do anything,
one of the bystanders entered the house to help the person left inside, but he
collapsed because of the intense smoke and flames. Without the aid of a
breathing apparatus, Firefighter Proulx entered the building and retrieved
him. Firefighter Proulx had to repeat this rescue twice to retrieve the other
two bystanders who had also entered the building to reach the man still
inside. Additional firefighters arrived on the scene a few moments later.
Firefighter Proulx donned a breathing apparatus and joined the rescue
operations. Sadly the man they were trying to rescue succumbed to his
injuries.

    Firefighter Robert Walker
    Hamilton Emergency Services

    Hamilton Emergency Services Firefighter Robert Walker was off-duty when
he drove by the aftermath of a head-on collision on Osler Drive in Dundas. It
happened on the afternoon of December 14, 2006. A woman who was behind the
wheel was trapped in her vehicle that had just caught fire. The interior was
rapidly filling with smoke and flames and she was unconscious. Firefighter
Walker immediately got inside the car to remove her seatbelt and free her
legs. With the help of another man, he removed the driver through the rear
door. He initiated cardiopulmonary resuscitation until paramedics arrived.
Despite his heroic efforts, the driver unfortunately died of her injuries.

    Joint Citation for Police and Firefighter Bravery
    Captain Pat Elliott and Firefighter Kevin Martin Harold Fillier
    Municipality of Trent Hills Fire Department

    Police and firefighters helped save a young boy's life from
Campbellford's worst fire of the year. In the early hours of October 27, 2006,
Ontario Provincial Police Constable Bruce Thompson was on routine patrol when
he heard a report of a silent 911 call coming from a building nearby. Smoke
was already visible against the clear night sky. The Parish Apartment Building
was on fire. Provincial Constable Thompson rushed into the building and heard
a boy crying for help. He tried to reach the boy but the heat and smoke left
him no choice but to retreat. He made another attempt with the help of Ontario
Provincial Police Constable James Orser but there was too much smoke.
    Provincial Constables Thompson and Orser briefed the firefighters who
took over the rescue operations. Captain Patrick Elliott climbed a ladder to
access a bedroom window. He found the boy under a bed and rescued him.
Firefighter Kevin Fillier found a young girl in an adjacent bedroom. He
battled extreme heat and smoke to lift her to the window and get her out. A
second girl's body was later found and carried out. The boy survived but
sadly, his two sisters died from their injuries.

    
    Disponible en français

                           www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca


    Backgrounder
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                     THE ONTARIO MEDAL FOR POLICE BRAVERY
    

    The Ontario Medal for Police Bravery was created in 1975 and is awarded
annually.

    Ontario Medal for Police Bravery Recipients:

    Provincial Constable Dan Bailey
    Ontario Provincial Police, Fort Frances Detachment

    Off-duty does not mean much to Ontario Provincial Police Constable
Dan Bailey. While visiting his brother in Elgin County on August 1, 2006, he
heard what sounded like a thumping noise, similar to a car hitting the
pavement. He looked on the road and there was a car upside down. It was on
fire. Provincial Constable Bailey ran toward the car and saw that there were
two women inside the vehicle, hanging upside down fastened in their seatbelts.
With his knife, he cut the driver's seatbelt and was able to drag her out to
safety. He went back to the vehicle where a passenger was trapped, her hand
pinned to the ground under the vehicle. Provincial Constable Bailey crawled
back into the car and managed to get the passenger out. She survived.
Unfortunately, the driver died later in hospital.

    Constable Dan Bartol
    Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service

    Constable Dan Bartol is a member of Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service
assigned to the Fort Hope First Nation. He was on duty on February 1, 2007,
when he responded to a report of a house fire. The caller indicated that
residents were trapped inside and that he saw the fire was growing bigger.
Constable Bartol rapidly climbed up through the frame of a broken bedroom
window. A flash fire burned his face and ignited his clothes while he removed
an unconscious woman through the window. Constable Bartol gave her
cardio-pulmonary resuscitation until paramedics arrived. Unfortunately, the
woman was later pronounced dead at the local nursing station.

    Constables Trevor Bethune and Lester Tang
    Kingston Police

    On the evening of October 7, 2006, Kingston Police Constables Lester Tang
and Trevor Bethune were sent to a disturbance call on the Queen Street pier.
An intoxicated woman was shouting at a man who was bobbing in the waves near
the pier. Constables Tang and Bethune immediately stripped down to their
shirts and pants and jumped off the three-metre pier to rescue him. They
quickly reached the man, but cold water and the wind made it difficult for
them to make their way back to shore. Fortunately, another constable on the
pier threw them the back seat of a police cruiser, which is an excellent
floatation device. Constable Bethune managed to hoist the man on top of the
floating car seat and all three were pulled back to safety. There is no doubt
that the man would have drowned if not for the heroic efforts of Constables
Bethune and Tang.

    Constable Daniel Gemmiti
    Peterborough Lakefield Community Police Service

    The Peterborough Lakefield Community Police Service received a 911 call
at about 1:45 a.m. on October 8, 2006, reporting a vehicle had struck a
utility pole on Parkhill Road West in Peterborough. The car was on fire. The
driver was trapped inside with his leg pinned down and the doors seized shut
because of the impact. Constable Daniel Gemmiti could hear the driver calling
for help. He remained calm, made his way inside the car and forcibly freed the
driver's leg before dragging him out. Within a matter of seconds, the car was
engulfed in flames. The man's life was saved. Constable Gemmiti is proof that
no matter the time, help is always on its way.

    Sergeant Bruce Sawbridge
    Provincial Constable Jack W. Gibson
    Ontario Provincial Police, Upper Ottawa Valley Detachment

    On December 26, 2006, police were sent out to investigate a distraught
man who had walked into the cold waters. He was standing on a rock about 10
metres from the shore. Sergeant Bruce Sawbridge and Ontario Provincial Police
Constable Jack Gibson entered the water and started swimming toward him. The
man jumped and swam further away. The officers reached him in two metres of
hazardous water due to the strong current. The man violently struggled with
the officers. Despite his resistance, they managed to drag him back to the
shore. The man was saved from a certain death in the freezing waters.

    Provincial Constable Erik Howells
    Ontario Provincial Police

    While serving with the United Nations Police in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in
May 2006, Thunder Bay Ontario Provincial Police Constable Erik Howells
responded to a riot at the National Prison. The prisoners had made their way
to the roof of the main three-storey building and to a corridor leading to a
breach on the ground level. Those on the roof hurled bricks and pieces of
concrete at the guards and police who were eventually forced to retreat. At
that point, Provincial Constable Howells realized that a small group of
officers had retreated to the wrong side of the breach, with no means of
escape. Fully aware of the danger, Provincial Constable Howells returned alone
to the breach and rejoined the officers left behind. Luckily, the prisoners
were unaware of their advantage and police reinforcements finally arrived.
Despite the fact that shots were fired and tear gas deployed, no prisoners
were killed by the United Nations Police during the riot.

    Sergeant Roland Morrison and Constable Jeff Levesque
    Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service

    There are times when courage, bravery and selflessness are not enough to
save a life. Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service Sergeant Roland Morrison, then
Constable, and Constable Jeff Levesque are heroes nevertheless. On February 2,
2007, they both saw thick smoke coming out of a residence. When they learned
that some people were trapped inside, they entered the burning structure and
crawled into a hallway toward the bedrooms. They called out as they reached
with their arms into the smoke-filled area. Too late, they had to back out,
narrowly escaping the advancing fire as the ceiling above and the walls in
front of them had become completely engulfed in flames. Sadly, the fire
claimed the lives of two members of the Cat Lake First Nation.

    Joint Citation for Police and Firefighter Bravery
    Provincial Constables James Orser and Bruce Thompson
    Ontario Provincial Police, Northumberland Detachment

    Police and firefighters helped save a young boy's life from
Campbellford's worst fire of the year. In the early hours of October 27, 2006,
Ontario Provincial Police Constable Bruce Thompson was on routine patrol when
he heard a report of a silent 911 call coming from a building nearby. Smoke
was already visible against the clear night sky. The Parish Apartment Building
was on fire. Provincial Constable Thompson rushed into the building and heard
a boy crying for help. He tried to reach the boy but the heat and smoke left
no choice but to retreat. He made another attempt with the help of Provincial
Constable James Orser but there was too much smoke.
    Provincial Constables Thompson and Orser briefed the firefighters who
took over the rescue operations. Captain Patrick Elliott climbed a ladder to
access a bedroom window. He found the boy under a bed and rescued him.
Firefighter Kevin Fillier found a young girl in an adjacent bedroom. He
battled extreme heat and smoke to lift her to the window and get her out. A
second girl's body was later found and carried out. The boy survived but
sadly, his two sisters died from their injuries.

    Acting Deputy Chief John Andrew Mellon
    Constable Shawn Charles Piercey
    Pembroke Police Service

    On November 11, 2006, a local taxi driver contacted police after he saw a
man on the Pembroke Street Bridge who looked like he was about to jump into
the Muskrat River. When the man saw the police, he jumped into the cold
waters. Acting Deputy Chief John Mellon, then Sergeant, and Constable Shawn
Piercey both stripped off their duty equipment and dove in. At this point, the
man was drowning. Although the current was strong and the water very deep and
cold, the officers grabbed the unconscious man and swam back to shore. In so
doing, officers Mellon and Piercey saved the man from certain death.


    
    Disponible en français

                           www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca
    




For further information:

For further information: Laura Blondeau, Minister's Office, (416)
325-4973, (416) 938-9757 (cell); Anthony Brown, Communications Branch, (416)
314-7772

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