Alexandria The water was swiftly rising as two women were frantically trying to evacuate the Arlington Terrace neighborhood during the flash flooding that devastated the Huntington area on Sept. 8, 2011. As first responders from Penn Daw Fire Station 11 arrived on the scene, they realized that one of the women was eight months pregnant and the other was clinging to her 2-week-old newborn baby.
Lt. Thomas Flint and Technician Robert Pickle made their way to the women and were able to secure the infant in a car seat. As the water quickly became neck-deep, Pickle was able to carry the infant over his head to safety in the second floor of a nearby house.
At the same time as Flint was attempting to lead the two women to dry ground, a sudden swell of water overtook them and swept them off their feet. Flint was able to take hold of a street sign and grab one of the women as she was being swept away by the surge. As the second woman washed by, Flint used his legs to catch her, with all three holding on until other Station 11 crew members were able to reach them.
For their acts of heroism in that day, Pickle and Flint were honored March 21 with Silver Medals of Valor at the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce Valor Awards, the highest award presented at the ceremony. Also honored for their rescue efforts in Huntington were Technicians James Furman, John Guy and Shannon Reed, Medic Eli Bredbener, Capt. Glenn Mason and Firefighter Rodney Washington, who all received Certificates of Valor Awards.
Held at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner, the Chamber recognized 108 of the county's first responders at the 34th Annual Valor Awards. Members of the Fairfax County Police Department, Sheriff's Office, Fire and Rescue Department, as well as from the Towns of Herndon and Vienna, were given awards.
Thirty-five responders were given Bronze or Silver Medals of Valor, whose children will receive post-secondary education scholarships from the Valor Scholarship Fund, a 501(c)3 foundation. To date, more than $250,000 in scholarships has been awarded.
The flash flooding of Sept. 8, a result of 6 to 10 inches of rain that deluged the area, brought numerous calls for water-related rescues and 18 Fairfax County Fire and Rescue personnel were honored for their efforts that day. The firefighters saved dozens of lives by rescuing people who were trapped by rising water, in danger of washing downstream or were otherwise trapped by the severe weather conditions.
The Chamber also awarded 48 lifesaving awards and 25 certificates of valor during the ceremony.
"We have heard some remarkable accounts of heroism today," said Doug Brammer, chair of the Valor Scholarship Fund. "Having done this for a number of years, it just reinforces that when things are at their worst, our first responders are at their best."