Posts Tagged Medal of Valor

Medal of Valor awarded to Glen Ellyn firefighter

The Daily Herald has an article about a Glen Ellyn firefighter being honored for bravery:

Chris Guare, a Glen Ellyn volunteer firefighter, received a Medal of Valor from The 100 Club of DuPage County for his attempt to save a man’s life during a May 10 apartment fire in Glen Ellyn.

Guare and other members of the Glen Ellyn Volunteer Fire Department responded to an early morning Duane Street fire that was confined to a single apartment of a three-story building. Once the door to the apartment was forced open by firefighters, oxygen flooded the apartment and the [room] became [fully-involved.] Guare, who had been using a thermal imaging device to scan the apartment, saw the occupant identified as Abdullah Rantissi, lying on the floor and rushed in to save him. Members of Guare’s crew used hoses to battle the fire in order to give [him] time to reach the occupant and drag him out of the building, Guare said.

“Chris crawled in on his belly, got the victim and was able to remove the victim from the apartment and out to the paramedics,” Chief Jim Bodony said. “Single-handedly, he was the one who went in. It was pretty difficult and he put his life on the line for this guy.”

In addition to pulling the resident out of his apartment, the married father of three drove the victim to the burn unit at Loyola University Medical Center while paramedics treated his injuries. The victim later succumbed to the injuries sustained in the fire, Guare said.

Although Guare was the one to rush into the burning apartment, he said he could not have done so if he did not have the support and assistance of the other firefighters on his truck. Guare said he was honored to receive the award, but added he would not be considered for it without the assistance of the other firefighters on his engine.

While Guare was singled out for the Medal of Valor, Lt. Craig Eldridge, the public information officer for the volunteer fire department, said the other three firefighters who fought the apartment fire, Assistant Chief Jeff Buccola, Lt. Leigh Mikolajczyk and Firefighter Matt Andris. Along with Guare, will each receive a departmental honor for their efforts during a Glen Ellyn Village Council meeting later this month.

thanks Dan

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Medal of Valor for Highland Park firefighter

The TribLocal has an article about a Highland Park firefighter being awarded the Medal of Valor.

… Christopher Gottschalk … [always] dreamed of becoming a firefighter. On a cold morning in December, his passion and training drove him to save a man, helpless and gasping for breath, inside a burning Highland Park home as flames raced up the basement walls and across a plywood ceiling in a room filling rapidly with thick smoke.

Gottschalk, 33 and a firefighter for nine years, two and a half with the city, will receive the state’s second highest fire service award, the Medal of Valor, in a May 6 ceremony in Springfield. It is the first such award given to a Highland Park firefighter in the department’s 125-year history.

Gottschalk and Lt. Steve Horne were the first firefighters to reach a two-story wood frame home on Glenview Avenue, the scene of the 4 a.m. basement fire that sent multiple residents, some carrying small children, running into the street.

Highland Park police, the first to arrive, had questioned residents and learned a man was still inside the house, most likely in the basement. Police alerted arriving firefighters that they would be dealing with a rescue situation.

A cop told Gottschalk that the kitchen, right off the basement stairs, was already too hot to enter. The firefighters entered the house through a screened-in porch, and Gottschalk located the basement stairwell and began descending — without the protection of a fire hose. The staircase acted as a huge funnel, sending heat and smoke racing up to the ground level as he descended. Horne was tasked with locating the origin of the fire.

“When I reached the bottom of the stairs, it was floor to ceiling smoke, and I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face,” Gottschalk said. Crouched near the floor, Gottschalk used a hand-held thermal imaging camera to search for the man they believed was down there. “I did a quick scan with the camera to my right. I scanned to the left and saw a (metal support pipe for the ceiling), a workout bench and washer and dryer. I still didn’t see any victim and was about to go right, but it was one of those things that told me to go left. I aimed the camera behind a wall and the victim was lying there.”

“I had my flashlight on and saw him trying to gasp for air. I was about 10 feet from the stairs and I could hear the lieutenant coming down and relayed to him (via their helmet radio phones) that I found the victim. I shined the flashlight at the stairs so the lieutenant would know where I was.”

It was Gottschalk’s job to get the victim, over 200 pounds of unclothed and slippery “dead weight,” to safety, while Horne continued to search for the fire’s origin.  [other] firefighters entered the basement with hoses and moved the victim to safety. The man, initially listed as critical, recovered, said officials, who determined that a space heater had ignited a mattress and bed clothes to start the fire.

Highland Park Deputy Fire Chief Daniel Pease said it is not common for a relatively inexperienced firefighter to enter a burning structure alone without a “charged fire hose” for protection, but the situation dictated bold action in both the rescue and in assessing the fire threat for arriving units. “In the fire service you risk a lot so you can save a lot,” said Pease. Or, “you risk little to save little.”

Twelve Illinois firefighters will be awarded the Medal of Valor for 2013 and seven men the Medal of Honor, the state’s highest award … 

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