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Calgary Fire Department recognizes the actions of 16 local heroes

Real-life Calgary super heroes gathered at the Delta Hotel by Marriott in the southeast Calgary suburb of Willow Park to be honored for acts that resulted in multiple saved lives.

The Calgary Fire Department celebrated its annual Beyond the Call recognition event that honours people (both citizens and emergency services personnel) who have helped others, beyond expectation, in extraordinary emergency situations.

The recipients of these awards are Martin Keefe, Kevin Streit, Evan McEwen, Curtis Schmidt, Shayna Labbe, Allan Ball, Carol Henke, Zak Halas, Eli Falk, Peter Cone, Markaran Grewal and Jovan Dhaliwal, Joe Gillis, Derek Arthurs, and Ashley and Eddie Phillips.

Fire Chief Steve Dongworth said these individuals deserve all the recognition in the world.

“I’m honoured to be here today to recognize some truly exceptional Calgarians who through their actions have helped to make our community a better place to live,” Dongworth said.

“Thirteen individuals are being recognized and honored here today for acts of bravery and passion in difficult or life-threatening circumstances.”

Quick thinking 9-year-old attempts to save his dad’s life

The heroic tales of people from all across the city were shared Thursday afternoon, but it was Eli Falk’s desperate attempt to save his father’s life that left the entire room speechless.

On December 13, 2020, Eli who was at the time only 9 years old was being shown how to make lighting marks on pieces of wood in a friend’s garage. In the process Falk’s dad electrocuted himself.

While his dad was being electrocuted, Falk moved quickly and called his mom Marla.

“I got a video on WhatsApp with my son saying you know dad had an accent. And they tend to do this to me a lot where they both pretend to be dead, so I thought it was a joke; then he videoed me and I watched him take his last breath,” Marla Falk said.

Eli asked his mom what to do, Marla then showed Eli how to do CPR over video. Eli jumped in quickly to try and save his father.

“He said ‘I’m petrified, tell me what to do.’ You know, everybody said to me how amazing and strong and brave he was; he’s just – this is him,” Marla said.

Eli recalled those moments trying to save his father.

“I was helping my dad by turning (him) over, rubbing his back, doing compression. Then they arrived and then I went inside the house and then after we had him for five extra days, but then he sadly passed away,” Eli said.

The accident resulted in tragedy but Marla was in awe of the lengths Eli would go to try and save his father.

“He’s a funny, at the time, a funny nine-year-old who took things seriously when he had to and I can’t thank him enough because we save to other people.”

Marla and Eli and his recognition award. JAMES WINDLER/ FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY.

Marla’s husband’s organs were donated which directly resulted in two lives being saved.

Even though Eli wasn’t able to save his father’s life, his actions directly helped save two others.

Heroic acts

Zak Halas

While working in a nearby building, Halas heard screaming. Quickly rushing to the scene, Halas saw that a man’s vehicle has rolled off the safety pins, trapping the man underneath it. Halas and another bystander acted quickly a lifted the vehicle allowing the trapped man to slide out from underneath.

Zak Halas accepted his award in the appreciation category. JAMES WINDLER/ FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY.

Kevin Streit

On January 23, 2019, while off duty, Streit was the first to rush to a driver who suffered cardiac arrest on the side of Crowchild Trail. Streit quickly assessed the patient and began performing CPR. An off-duty nurse arrived at the scene and the patient continued to receive CPR until EMS and CFD arrived.

Kevin Streit accepted his award in the recognition category. JAMES WINDLER/ FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY.

Evan McEwen

While off-duty McEwen was playing hockey at Joe Phillips Arena just outside of Calgary on February 14, 2019 when a player on the opposing team fell ill. While heading to the dressing room the player collapsed. McEwen and Shaun and Shane two other off-duty firefighters quickly controlled the situation by calling 9-1-1 and grabbing the Automated External Defibrillator (AED). The hockey gear was ripped off and compressions were started. After two shocks the player started breathing on his own.

Evan McEwan accepted his award in the recognition category. JAMES WINDLER/ FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY.

Curtis Schmidt

On June 2, 2019, retired fire captain Curtis Schmidt noticed smoke coming from his neighbour’s yard. After going to the house to check what was going on Schmidt noticed the deck had caught fire. Schmidt quickly called 9-1-1 and began putting the fire out until fire crews could come and finish the job. Schmidt successfully prevented the entire house from catching fire.

Curtis Schmidt accepted his award in the recognition category. JAMES WINDLER/ FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY.

Shayna Labbe

On March 25, 2019, Labbe saw someone collapse. Labbe used her background in nursing and started compressions until paramedics arrived. Shortly after a shock rhythm was found and a shock was delivered. The patient was able to recover after a short stint in the hospital.

Labbe accepted her award in the recognition category. JAMES WINDLER/ FORIVEWIRE CALGARY.

Mankaran Grewal and Jovan Dhaliwal

An improperly disposed cigarette led to a fire on July 12, 2020. Grewal and Dhaliwal noticed the fire and quickly called 9-1-1. They then ran over to the house alerting the homeowners of the fire through their doorbell camera. The two boys then proceeded to go back to the house after the fire had been put out and offered the homeowners money to fix their deck.

Grewal (left) and Dhaliwal (right) accepted their awards in the recognition category. JAMES WINDLER/ FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY.

Joe Gillis

On August 24, 2020, Gillis noticed smoke coming from a nearby home. After running to the house and confirming that 9-1-1 had been called Gillis rushed into the home that was on fire. Gillis found one person upstairs who wasn’t aware that the house had caught fire. Gillis led the person out of the home and to safety.

Joe Gillis accepted his award in the recognition category. JAMES WINDLER/ FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY.

Derek Arthurs

During a safety code inspection at a Canadian Tire on August 14, 2020 Arthurs was approached by a customer saying a woman had collapsed. Arthurs rushed to the customer and hooked up an AED and defibrillated the woman. The woman was breathing by the time EMS arrived.

Derek Arthurs accepted his award in the recognition category. JAMES WINDLER/ FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY.

Ashley and Eddie Phillips

On September 19, 2020, Ashley and Eddie Phillips heard cries of pain. Upon arriving at the scene, they saw their neighbour with a badly wounded leg. They quickly put pressure on the wound and performed lifesaving first aid until first responders could arrive. Without their quick action, the neighbour was at risk of losing more blood than they already did. The Phillips were unable to attend the award ceremony.

Alan Ball

Allan and his wife were second on the scene of a high-speed, head-on collision in California in March 2019. Four people were trapped under two vehicles. Ball acted quickly and directed citizens to stabilize the incident. While that was going on Ball poured poured water on the smoldering vehicles and disabled the car batteries.

Allan Ball accepted his award in the commendation category. JAMES WINDLER/ FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY.

Carol Henke

While out for a lunchtime stroll in Stanley Park on August 20, 2019, Henke noticed a young child separated from a group of kids in the water. Henke quickly realized that kid was in distress. Henke jumped in the water and brought the kid to safety. The kid was part of a daycare group that was in the water without life jackets. The kid was just six years old and could not swim. The daycare was put under investigation shortly after.

Carol Henke accepted her award in the commendation category. JAMES WINDLER/ FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY.

Martin Keefe

On February 12, 2020, at Shipwreck Beach on the island of Kaua’i, a women fell off a cliff into the ocean. Keefe rushed into the ocean and put a flotation device around the woman. The woman was transported to the hospital, she could not be revived and sadly passed away.

Martin Keefe accepted his award in the commendation category. JAMES WINDLER/ FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY.