American Medical Response (AMR) Salutes Fire Rescue

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Dedicated Fire Rescue and Emergency Medical Service teams and individuals going “above and beyond” to save lives and protect the community were recently honored during “A Salute to Fire Rescue” Aventura Marketing Council/ Chamber of Commerce (AMC) Breakfast Meeting hosted for the third consecutive year by American Medical Response  (AMR) – the nation’s leading medical transportation company committed to making a difference by caring for people in need.

This year’s salute highlighted the efforts of heroic men and women who serve Miami-Dade County and cities including Miami, Miami Beach, Hialeah, Coral Gables, Key Biscayne, Homestead, Hallandale Beach and Dania Beach.  Each Fire Rescue Department was asked to select heroic individuals who have gone “above and beyond” in demonstrating courage and commitment, and their emotional stories were told by their Fire Chief to an enraptured audience.

AMC Chair Gary Pyott of Association 1st,  joined by AMR Regional Vice President Terence Ramotar, Vice President Bob Garner and David Sanford, Government Relations/ Business Development Manager, welcomed hundreds of business and community leaders gathered at the Newport Beachside Hotel. They explained AMR, the largest local ambulance provider in the country, backs up and partners with Fire Rescue departments and assists by responding to non-life threatening 911 calls so Fire Rescue departments can be ready for life -threatening calls. “We’re proud to be able to honor first responders across the country because the real heart of their work literally saves hundreds of thousands of lives,”

Perfectly in tune with the inspiring occasion, talented 13-year-old singer Emily Taylor Kaufman featured in the AMC’s Aventura Mall/Interiors by Steven G.  YOUNG STARS SHOWCASE presented by Mount Sinai Medical Center and AT&T, sang tribute songs including Hero and Wind Beneath My Wings as Fire Rescue professionals were honored for placing the safety of others above their own.

Receiving the “Above and Beyond” awards were:

Miami Beach Fire Department firefighter Joel Mizelle is a Department SWAT medic and decorated veteran of the armed forces. While off-duty, he helped save the life of a fellow Little League coach who went into cardiac arrest. The coach is expected to make a 100 percent recovery thanks to Mizelle’s ability to act quickly and expertly provide basic life support until Miami-Dade Fire Rescue arrived.

Miami-Dade Urban Search & Rescue team leader Lt. Jeff Rouse, deployed with Florida Force One from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, helped rescue victims of devastating 2017 hurricanes in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico.  Away from his family for over a month, Rouse assisted those in desperate need, exemplifying professionalism, dedication and bringing honor to his department.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Lt. Robert Schaaf, Jr. and Firefighters Kevin Gay and Jean Fede responded to a harrowing 911 call involving a one-year-old and two-year-old who nearly drowned in a family swimming pool and were not breathing when the teams from Rescue 19, 20 and 31 arrived on the scene. Thanks to their amazing life support efforts, the children were revived on the way to the hospital. After a brief stay, they were released in perfect health and given a new chance at life.

City of Miami Fire Rescue Firefighter Michael San Miguel sprang into action while off-duty when he encountered a motor vehicle collision. He notified Miami-Dade Fire Rescue of the dire situation and then positioned his own vehicle to protect the scene from oncoming traffic. Implementing his paramedic training, San Miguel valiantly performed CPR on a crash victim in cardiac arrest until units arrived.

Hallandale Beach Fire Rescue Capt. Jorge Leon, Medical Director Dr. Michael Estreicher and Asst. Medical Director Dr. Benjamin Abo traveled to three towns in Nicaragua on a mission to help improve fire and EMS services in some of the country’s poorest cities. They provided training to local firefighters, and upon seeing the antiquated equipment, Capt. Leon even repaired an old, dilapidated fire engine. The team imparted invaluable skills and education, helping to improve pre-hospital care worldwide.

Hialeah Fire Department Firefighter Robert Williams III is lauded for his “unwavering commitment and unbelievable dedication” during 24 years of fire service. In addition to his regular hours, he works with youths, seniors and those with special needs. He also serves as President of the Fire Benevolent Association and volunteers to support the Junior Fire Academy, safety events, toy drives, career days and Boy Scout events.

Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue & Emergency Services for Dania Beach is especially proud of Firefighter/Paramedic Kenneth DeSantis. While off-duty with his family, he stopped at a serious car accident where four people were trapped in a minivan on fire. DeSantis bravely broke out the window and removed all the victims from the vehicle. Despite suffering cuts from the broken glass he continued to assist as Fire Rescue arrived. His heroic efforts contributed to the survival of all four people involved in the horrific crash. .

Key Biscayne Fire Rescue Lt. Justin Connors, Driver Engineer Erwin Brandt and Firefighter John Bavaro helped save the life of a nine-year-old, who experienced the rarity of having a stroke while playing ball at Key Biscayne K-8 Center. Teachers immediately called for help, and when the paramedics arrived, they rapidly initiated treatment and transported the child to an appropriate Comprehensive Care Stroke facility. Their quick thinking and thorough assessment helped minimize detrimental damage and today, the child is making a steadfast recovery.

Coral Gables Fire Department Firefighter/Paramedic Ishmael “Ish’ Roig tirelessly demonstrates his commitment to the department and community. He serves as lead instructor for the Fire Cadet program, teaching youngsters medical and emergency firefighting techniques as well as job development and career planning. He also serves on the Special Response Team and volunteers countless hours to teach life -saving CPR courses.

Homestead Air Reserve Base Fire Department Chief Lorenza Gardner noted, “It’s an honor to be here and we appreciate the recognition. We have a different mission in Homestead – we protect everybody!”

Summing up the salute, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber shared, “Every day, thousands of heroic acts are being done by firefighters and police officers, responding to ensure residents and visitors are safe and can survive tragic instances. What you do is so important to us. When people are in peril, you rush in. When people need care, amazing judgment, empathy and thoughtful compassion, you provide it. On behalf of all the people you protect, thank you!”

Patient-focused and customer-centered, AMR’s national reach and extensive experience facilitate the delivery of a wide range of emergency and home healthcare services to communities nationwide. From managing entire emergency medical systems and establishing beneficial private-public partnerships, to designing innovative ways to deliver healthcare , AMR is committed to improving the patient experience of care, improving the health of populations and reducing the per capita cost of healthcare.

For more information about American Medical Response (AMR), phone: 305-495-1200 or visit


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