They saved lives, stopped shootings, walked into fires and climbed towers doing more than duty required.
The actions of the 16 men and women awarded at Wednesday’s 2002 Valor Awards Program got noticed, first by their nominees and second by the more than 200 people attending the event. The Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce handed out valor awards, medals and folded-up American flags to public safety staff and volunteers who acted beyond the call of duty while serving under the Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Fire and Rescue and the Leesburg Police Department.
“The chamber feels these people answer the calls every day when people need them,” said Randy Collins, president of the chamber, the host for the event. “This is our effort to say thank you. We appreciate what they do.”
The heroic acts awards program started more than 10 years ago as a biannual event and later was held annually to increase the recognition.
“In my book, the most important people are those who respond when we dial 911,” said Dave Stator, keynote speaker and a reporter for Channel 9 Eyewitness News since 1985. Stator, who served six years as a Prince George’s County volunteer firefighter, mentioned increased respect given to public safety personnel since the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. “Let’s hope this new-found respect … is not short-lived,” he said, then told the stories behind each of the awards.
THE TOP Silver Medal of Valor was awarded to Deputy Chief Byron Andrews and firefighter Kevin Stiles, both of the Department of Fire and Rescue, for rescuing an injured man from a cellular tower walkway 155 feet above ground. On a cold day Nov. 22, 2000, the two fire personnel climbed the tower to provide First Aid to the 25-year-old man, who was struck in the shoulder by a block and tackle that fell 50 feet. A helicopter was requested to lower the man to the ground by way of a rescue basket.
“For two and one-half hours, Deputy Chief Andrews and firefighter Stiles braved the cold and wind as well as the height to aid another person,” Stator said. “Without regard for their own personal safety, these two public safety servants performed in a professional manner and successfully completed their mission without further harm to the patient or to themselves.”
The Bronze Medal of Valor went to Sgt. John Scott Ebersole of the Leesburg Police Department and to Sgt. Gregory Brown and investigator Matthew Powell of the Sheriff’s Office. In May 2001, Ebersole rescued a person from inside a burning building without wearing any fire apparatus, nor having the training for the operation. In August 2000, Brown and Powell rescued three family members held hostage by a suicidal man, then arrested the man while he was at his Hamilton home.
THE LIFESAVING Award was awarded to officer Paul Holzerland and former officer Jason Shatarsky of the Leesburg Police Department and to Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Michael Boub, Jr., firefighter Christopher Gay, firefighter Nicholas Croce and Assistant Chief Richard Gardner of the Department of Fire and Rescue.
Holzerland and Shatarsky helped deliver a baby in a Leesburg home in April 2001. The baby was not breathing, so they performed a chest massage to induce breathing and the baby responded. Boub and Gay provided assistance at a fire in Manassas Park, rescuing two women and a baby in July 2001. Croce and Gardner rescued a 67-year-old man from a pond in Philomont in March 2001
The Meritorious Action Award was given to five men and women who placed themselves in a situation of personnel risk. Capt. Patrick Brandenberg of the Department of Fire and Rescue assisted a 22-year-old unconscious male during a Civil War reenactment event in August 2001. Brandenberg realized the man had stopped breathing and started rescue breathing techniques until the man began breathing again. Four members of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office received the award for stopping a suicide attempt at the Good Shepherd Alliance Homeless Shelter in Leesburg. They are Lt. Allen Gabrielli, deputy Linda Ladenburg, field deputy specialist Raymond Sullivan and Sgt. Beverly Tate.
THE RECOGNITION did not stop with the 16 men and women who received the awards. One table stood empty during the luncheon. A table setting was there, along with a burning candle and the badges for each of the departments represented. The memorial table paid tribute to those who gave their lives in the line of duty and to those who lost their lives on Sept. 11.
The flags were given to commemorate fallen Sept. 11 comrades.