At a recent Aventura Marketing Council/Chamber of Commerce (AMC) meeting held at the Newport Beachside Hotel, almost 200 members and special guests from fire rescue departments throughout Miami-Dade and Broward counties gathered for the annual “Salute to Fire Rescue” Breakfast Meeting hosted by AMR (American Medical Response).
AMC Chairman Gary Pyott opened the meeting by introducing VIPs in the room, thanking all the fire rescue professionals there, and the fire rescue K-9s showed their approval by barking! Fire rescue chiefs from Homestead to Broward County showed up in force, along with their leadership teams and their “Above and Beyond” award winners—individuals or teams who have gone above and beyond the call of duty.
Aventura Mayor Enid Weisman said, “I want to give my personal thanks and recognition to all of the fine men and women here today who stand between us and disaster. From the bottom of my heart, I thank each one of you for what you do for our city, state and county.”
Terence Ramotar, AMR’s Regional Director for West Florida and Georgia and Isabel Rodriguez, AMR Director of Operations, hosted this meeting for the third consecutive year. Ramotar said, “While we’re sleeping at night safe and sound, these fire rescue professionals are away from their homes and families, waiting for the call to help with the next disaster. For that, we are forever grateful to them, and forever grateful to partner with them on the scenes of calls. They are our heroes…they are our friends, and we thank them every day for what they do.” After a powerful video that showed AMR ambulances working with a variety of fire rescue departments, Ramotar added, “AMR is the largest ambulance provider across the country, and now, air provider across the USA. Last year, we transported five million patients across the country. We couldn’t have done this without our company beginning our roots here in Miami-Dade County 57 years ago.”
Andy Lewis, Eisinger Brown Lewis Frankel & Chaiet, and AMC Executive Committee Member, handled the fire rescue award presentations. As Ramotar and Rodriguez gave two awards to each fire rescue department, one for the department and one for their Above and Beyond winner, each Fire Chief shared the story of their Above and Beyond winner.
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY FIRE RESCUE: EMS Fire Chief Rowan Taylor and North Division Chief John Krumenacker and Chief Fire Officer Brandon Webb, the Special Operations Division that oversees their Urban Search & Rescue Unit, presented their Above and Beyond award to their “Miracle Workers”. This team worked on an Aventura man as if he were their very own father, until they finally and miraculously recovered a pulse after 40 minutes of resuscitation efforts. The “Miracle Workers” were Capt. L. Diaz, Lt. P. Batista, Firefighter F. Cordero and Firefighter R. Wells.
MIAMI FIRE RESCUE: Division Chief Robert Jorge spoke about Firefighter Jesus Herrera, who was off duty in Siesta Key, Florida, when a sudden thunderstorm encompassed the area, and lightning struck down a young man. Herrera performed CPR until the first responders arrived and continued life-saving efforts on a pick-up truck with the help of a police officer and two lifeguards.
CORAL GABLES FIRE DEPT: Division Chief Jason Barger spoke about their winner, Deputy Chief Dean James. When a call came in that a man was trapped inside a car in a canal, Firefighter James didn’t hesitate to jump into the water to find the male victim who was unresponsive. He swam the victim to shore and resuscitated him.
HIALEAH FIRE DEPT: Fire Chief Willians Guerra and EMS Division Chief Emmanuel Louis were there to honor Lt. Scott Grondin.
As the health of first responders and firefighters continues to be a rising concern within the industry, fire departments across the nation are moving towards developing comprehensive fitness and health programs to protect their members for their long and dangerous careers. Lt. Grondin, a certified personal trainer and fitness expert, takes time away from his own training to implement and track a program which all new recruits go through as well as current fire department members.
HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE FIRE DEPT: Fire Chief Lorenza Gardner and Ass’t. Chief Americo Mendez honored their “Spotlight Team”: Ass’t Chief Alejandro Padin, Capt. Trung Pham, Capt. John Mangual, Lt. Kevin Whitley, Lt. Orlando Thompson, Firefighters Kevin Ricklick, Sean Harding and Charles Carreras, Lt. John Ashford and Mr. Larossi Fox. During an early morning practice jump at the Homestead base, three elite soldiers from the U.S. Army Golden Knight parachutists had an accident that found them plummeting to the ground. Two of the soldiers were in very serious condition, with the third soldier in serious condition. The “Spotlight Team”, assisted by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and Golden Knights personnel, responded immediately to this tragic event. Through the quick action of all crews on scene, the three patients were rapidly treated and transported to the nearest trauma center unit under the golden hour timeframe of one hour.
KEY BISCAYNE FIRE RESCUE DEPT: Fire Chief Eric Lang and Deputy Chief Michael Haring honored Lt. Johnson and Firefighters Perez and Lampert. When Paramedics from Key Biscayne responded to a call from a very pregnant woman, they couldn’t access her home due to a large street party blocking the street. Once they made their way through, they found the woman in no shape to make the trip across the bridge and began preparations to deliver the baby while she was in her car in the garage. They delivered a beautiful baby boy and as they opened the garage door, the street party was there to greet the new “Key Rat” to the island.
BROWARD SHERIFF RESCUE & EMERGENCY SERVICES: Battalion Chief Michael Kane spoke about their honorees, the SWAT Medical Team. On the tragic day of February 14th, the nightmare of a shooter at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School was unfolding. BSO SWAT Medics were the first Paramedics to enter the building to try and save as many lives as possible.
HALLANDALE BEACH FIRE RESCUE: Mayor Joy Adams joined Deputy Fire Chief Gregg Pagliarulo and EMS Chief, Capt. JoAnn Shapins, to honor Hallandale Beach Rescue Station 90: Ray Roseme, David DeCosta, Sara Fisher, Yarbul Gonzalez, Tammy Sexton, Gabe Castillo, Mike Gorman, Tony Gonzalez, Manny Gonzalez and Garth Bonner. When young Firefighter Paramedic Erik Conde suddenly collapsed just 30 minutes before his shift ended, his heart stopped, and he stopped breathing. His crew feverishly began life-saving efforts to bring him out of his life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia. His crew was able to re-start his heart, and after weeks in the Cardiac Intensive Unit at Aventura Hospital and great staff and aggressive treatments, Eric is alive today.
Mayor Adams spoke lovingly about her fire rescue department and the great pride she has in all of them.