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Above and Beyond

Valor Awards Applaud Loudoun's Heroes

<bt>During a March 20 ceremony at the Leesburg Holiday Inn, the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce and local public safety agencies recognized seven local citizens and public safety officials for heroic actions they performed beyond the call of duty.

The Chamber provided the following photos of the award winners and brief summaries of their actions.

TWO MEMBERS OF STERLING'S Volunteer Rescue Units climbed a cellular tower near the town's Steeplechase Industrial Park on Nov. 22, 2001, to treat a 25-year-old man trapped 155 feet above ground. He was in severe pain after a block and tackle fell and hit him on the shoulder. Without hesitation, Deputy Chief Byron Andrews, of the Sterling Rescue Squad, and Firefighter Kevin Stiles, a career firefighter/EMT assigned to the Sterling Volunteer Fire Department, worked with a U.S. Park Police helicopter hovering dangerously close to the tower, to lower the victim in a rescue basket. The temperature was in the low 30s with winds blowing at 10-15 mph. During the 2 1/2 hour operation, the patient and rescuers began to show signs of hypothermia. Andrews and Stiles braved the elements and the height to successfully complete their mission. For their actions, they each received Silver Medals of Valor.

ON THE AFTERNOON of May 5, 2001, Sgt. John "Scott" Ebersole of the Leesburg Police Department responded to a house fire on Adams Drive in Leesburg. He was sent to control traffic for emergency vehicles and had no fire-fighting equipment or training. When he arrived, he saw heavy smoke billowing from the upstairs and downstairs windows. Learning from bystanders that someone was inside the burning building, Ebersole went in. After several tense moments, he emerged from the burning building with the resident. For these actions, Ebersole was awarded the Bronze Medal of Valor.

ON AUG. 22, 2001, patrol units from the Loudoun County Sheriff's office established a perimeter around a home in Hamilton where an armed suicidal man was holding his wife and two children hostage. Sgt. Gregory Brown and DFC Matt Powell, two members of the Sheriff's Emergency Response Team (SERT), entered the front of the house as another team member monitored the suspect through a rear window. Even though they had to move within feet of the suspect, Brown and Powell went in and evacuated the wife and children without the suspects knowledge. Then, Brown and Powell re-entered the house with two other SERT members. The team deployed a distraction device under the suspect and took him into custody without further incident. For their actions, Brown and Powell received Bronze Medals of Honor at the Valor Awards ceremony.

<bt>IN THE EARLY AFTERNOON of March 21, 2001, a 67-year-old man clearing an overflow drain in a pond off Fox Haven Lane in Philmont got his leg stuck in a drain. Loudoun County Fire-Rescue Services responded to a 911 call by sending fire and rescue units from Philmont, Purcellville and Hamilton. Richard Gardner, Assistant Chief of the Philmont Volunteer Company No. 8, was the first to arrive. He found the man chest-deep in water, which was continuing to rise. The victim was suffering from hypothermia, but was conscious and alert. With the rescue boat still minutes away, Gardner dove underwater and, using his body for leverage, freed the man from the drain. Firefighter Nicholas Croce helped bring the man safely to shore. For their heroic deeds, Gardner and Croce were presented with Lifesaving Awards.

RETURNING FROM the Prince William County Fire Academy on July 6, 2001, emergency medical technician Michael R. Boub, Jr. and firefighter Christopher R. Gay saw smoke coming from behind a shopping center in Manassas Park. A three-story apartment building was on fire, and a medic unit and an engine company from Manassas Park were on the scene. Three occupants were trapped on the second and third floors, and the fire was advancing rapidly. Boub and Gay advised a mother to drop her 15-month-old boy from the second story window. Boub caught the baby then helped the mother to safety. Meanwhile, Gay climbed a ladder to the third-floor window to rescue another trapped woman just before the roof of her apartment collapsed. Gay suffered from smoke inhalation, first- and second-degree burns to his face, neck, and cuts to his left hand. Still, Boub and Gay helped Prince William County medics with rehab for firefighters on the scene. Boub and Gay received Lifesaving Awards for their actions.

<bt>OFFICERS PAUL M. HOLZERLAND and Jason M. Shatarsky responded to a call from an obstetrician on April 23, 2001. Holzerland was the first to arrive at the scene, where Elizabeth Castel was lying on the floor grasping at her mid-section and the baby had begun to crown. When Shatarsky arrived, the officers realized they would have to deliver the baby. Holzerland stabilized the baby's head while Shatarsky guided the body out. The baby girl was not breathing, so the officers conducted a finger sweep of her mouth and performed a chest massage to induce independent breathing. Members of the Loudoun County Volunteer Rescue Squad arrived, clamped and cut the baby's umbilical cord, and transported the mother and baby to the hospital. Holzerland and Shatarsky's actions were acknowledged with Lifesaving Awards at the Valor Awards ceremony.

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CAPTAIN PATRICK E. BRANDENBERG of Loudoun Fire and Rescue was assigned to a Civil War reenactment north of Leesburg on Aug. 16, 2001. The temperature was in the 90s and more than 30 participants, wearing wool costumes, suffered heat-related emergencies. Brandenburg forced himself through a crowd of more than 800 re-enactors crossing a bridge and began treating the victims. He made quick assessment of a 22-year-old man who was unconscious, convulsing, and had stopped breathing. Brandenburg opened the victim's airway and started rescue breathing within a minute. When more emergency personnel arrived, they packed the man in ice and transported him to Loudoun Hospital Center, where he made a complete recovery. Brandenberg received Meritorious Action Award for the rescue.

SGT. BEVERLY C. TATE AND FDS RAYMOND SULLIVAN went to the homeless shelter on The Woods Road in Leesburg, on April 5, 2001, to serve an emergency custody order. The woman refused to go to the hospital and threatened to cut her throat with a shard of glass. Tate talked with her while Sullivan requested additional Loudoun County Fire and Rescue units. Once Lt. Allen Gabrielli and Deputy Linda Ladenburg arrived, Sullivan secured the entrance to the house, coordinated communications and briefed arriving units. Gabrielli, Tate and Ladenburg continued negotiations with the woman for about two and a half hours, including connecting her by phone with her mental health counselor, while the woman kept the shard of glass to her neck. While her attention was diverted, Tate, Gabrielli and Ladenburg quickly removed the glass from her hand and restrained her with help from the Sheriff's Emergency Response Team. The woman was then taken into custody. For their actions, Tate, Sullivan, Gabrielli, and Ladenburg received Meritorious Action Awards.