In an emergency, most people turn to first responders for help—but when seconds count, it’s everyday people that make the difference between comfort or catastrophe.
The Calgary Fire Department recognized 26 extraordinary Calgarians for their bravery, compassion, and heroism that undoubtedly saved the lives of their fellow citizens on Oct. 24.
The Beyond the Call Award certificates of appreciation and recognition, alongside medals of commendation, were given to recipients for actions that ranged from opening their business to shelter people evacuated during a fire, to performing life-saving CPR, to bravely jumping into the Bow River and Glenmore Reservoir to save unconscious people, to even braving a burning home to pull a neighbour to safety.
“Courage is not a lack of fear. Courage is the ability to face fear and do what needs to be done. I recognize that incredible courage and the thoughtfulness that speaks to the city that we live in where people take care of each other this way,” said Katie Black, General Manager for Community Services with the City of Calgary.
“Congratulations to you all. Thank you for your courage and your bravery.”
Calgary Fire Department Chief Steve Dongworth said that there are so many situations in which the department relies on others taking action before they ever arrive on the scene to avert a crisis successfully.
“Many of these examples were exactly that. Even though we have great response times in the City of Calgary, it’s still several minutes before we get there,” he said.
“Whether someone’s drowning or someone needs to be alerted to a fire, it’s really essential that we have kind of this chain of survival where the citizens in these kinds of circumstances that we’ve heard about today can take some action with the training and the equipment—limited equipment that they have—until we get there. Then if it’s a medical call as well, Alberta Health Services gets there.”
He said that safety is a community effort and that without that community support, it would be impossible to have safety.
Albert Adam was one of the recipients of a commendation award, after he saved the life of a drowning child at the Glenmore Reservoir.
“Every child does matter, doesn’t it? I was a residential school survivor. So that means a lot,” he said.
“I trained with the Boilermakers, and if you see an incident you bought it, you don’t leave it.”
Firefighters among those honoured for going above and beyond
Among the recipients were a number of Calgary Firefighters who went above and beyond to help individuals in need.
Chief Dongworth said that those award recipients speak to the caliber of people that the fire department recruits, and who serve.
“We have great people in our organization and they truly step up to the plate every day. They’re doing amazing things out there in the community, and occasionally they do heroic things,” Chief Dongworth said.
“We hire for that. We look for those kinds of people and we try and instill those kinds of values into into our people to do what they can to serve the community in the best way they can.”
All of the nominees were put forward to the Calgary Fire Department selection committee by citizens or members of the fire department.
Appreciation awards were given to individuals who provided basic first aid or kindness to a CFD-attended emergency scene.
Recognition awards were given to individuals who significantly aided the CFD in a situation where citizens or property was in danger.
Commendation awards were given to individuals who proactively intervened in a life-threatening situation, and faced personal risk or injury or death, to save the life of another person.
2023 Beyond the Call Award Recipients
|Award Recipient(s)||Award||Actions taken to be recognized|
|Tabatha Nagel||Appreciation||Nagel took note of a house that had smoke coming out of it, and was able to contact 911 to alert the CFD which led to a dog being saved from a fire.|
|Carrie McMillan||Appreciation||McMillan opened her veterinary clinic on a cold winter day to evacuees from a fire across the street, offering coffee and donuts, and helped CFD with an elderly patient with dementia contact loved ones.|
|Holly Fordice||Recognition||The trio performed CPR on and called 911 for a pickleball player who collapsed at North Glenmore Park, providing detailed information to guide first responders to the court.|
|Stephen Armitage||Recognition||Armitage came across a person performing CPR on an unconscious person downtown, and called 911. He took over performing CPR until first responders arrived to take over critical care.|
|Lawrence Lees, Helen Puls, and Paul Babcock||Recognition||The trio performed CPR on and called 911 for a pickle ball player who collapsed at North Glenmore Park, providing detailed information to guide first responders to the court.|
|Matt Poulin and Mark Meredyk||Recognition||The pair were hunting with another firefighter when that individual had a crash with a utility vehicle. The pair ran for five kilometres with full packs and the injured man to get him to the Claresholm Hospital, and eventually to the Foothills Emergency. That individual would have died without Poulin and Meredyk’s help.|
|Naoko Morley and Jeremy Morley||Recognition||The couple were returning from an event when they heard a neighbour scream for help, quickly called 911, and provided CPR which helped to save that person’s life.|
|David Appleton||Recognition||McPherson heard faint cries outside his home and followed them to find a neighbour who had fallen into a fire pit and was badly burnt and unable to escape. He quick extinguished the fire, helped the man out of his burning clothes, and provided first aid until first responders arrived.|
|Trevor McPherson||Recognition||Paumig noticed a man unconscious behind the Tim Horton’s he worked at, notified another employee to call 911, and provided life-saving CPR until a fire crew from Station 21 arrived.|
|Judda Paumig||Recognition||Anderson provided life-saving CPR to a man who was pulled to shore by fellow citizens Travis Rodney and Hali Morrison after the man was noticed floating unconscious face down in the Bow River.|
|Stevie Anderson||Recognition||Anderson provided life saving CPR to a man who was pulled to shore by fellow citizens Travis Rodney and Hali Morrison after the man was noticed floating unconscious face down in the Bow River.|
|Travis Rodney and Hali Morrison||Commendation||Rodney and Morrison, without regard for their own personal safety, jumped into the Bow River to pull a man who was face down and unconscious to shore, and provide CPR until first responders arrived.|
|Scott Simon and Jamie Aguilar||Commendation||Simon and Aguilar, while recreating at Harvie Passage, saw an unconscious person floating down the rapids. They pulled the individual from the rapids at risk to themselves and provided life-saving CPR.|
|Lloyd Wyer||Commendation||Harrison was walking past his neighbours home when he heard a smoke alarm go off inside and saw smoke filling the home. He initially attempted to enter through the kitchen but was pushed back by hot smoky air. He eventually went in through a bathroom window to find his neighbour, following her voice and rescuing her from the building. He also alerted firefighters to eight cats in the basement of the home.|
|Richard Harrison||Commendation||While stand-up paddle boarding Whicker and Villamil saw someone jump off the Edworthy Bridge into the Bow River. They paddled over to the individual and were able to rescue them onto one of the paddle boards, took them to shore, and then helped them when they were coughing up copious amounts of water until EMS arrived.|
|Albert Adam||Commendation||Adam saw an unattended child fall down a cliffside at Glenmore Park into the Glenmore Reservoir, and not resurface. He rushed to the water, diving in to rescue the child, and then provided CPR multiple times on the child in between bringing them to the top of park to first responders. The child would not have survived without Adam’s help.|
|Mackenzie Whicker and Nicolas Villamil||Commendation||While stand-up paddle boarding, Whicker and Villamil saw someone jump off the Edworthy Bridge into the Bow River. They paddled over to the individual and were able to rescue them onto one of the paddle boards, took them to shore, and then helped them until EMS arrived.|