9 City of Miami Beach Heroes Honored Including K-9 Officer Gunny for Their Valor
Dr. Gershon Fink Recognized for Emergency Management Work in Miami Beach
For the sixth consecutive year, the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce Pillar Board honored a group of first responders, including a K-9, at its Annual Heroes Breakfast on Friday, February 14 at the Loews Miami Beach. Presented by City National Bank and the Loews Miami Beach Hotel, this event continues the Chamber’s tradition of recognizing the accomplishments of outstanding individuals doing brave work in the community.
Additionally, the Chamber recognized Dr. Gershon Fink for his work in emergency management training. At the breakfast, each honoree was given a gift package totaling over $5,000.
“The Annual Heroes Breakfast is one of the most popular events that the Chamber holds because it’s a community event,” said Chair of the Board Robin Jacobs. “The business community gathers and celebrates the bravery of individuals who play a critical role in keeping our communities safe.”
Jacobs presented Dr. Fink and awarded him for his passion in teaching people life-saving tips and steps on how to keep people alive until EMS arrives. He has taught many residents critical skills including How to Stop the Bleed, which is a program of the American College of Surgery. He also volunteers his time to make Miami Beach more resilient.
City of Miami Beach Police Chief Rick Clements presented the following awards:
• Sergeant Jeffrey Motola & Alejandro Llaneras, who on November of 2019 responded to callers who reported hearing gun shots and seeing an adult male armed with a handgun at the intersection of 41st Street and Chase Avenue. They arrived within one minute and 19 seconds from the time of dispatch and immediately confronted the armed subject at the northeast corner of the intersection, mere feet from North Beach Elementary School and Temple Beth Sholom synagogue. The subject was armed and presented a clear and present threat to the officers’ lives and public. The officers remained keenly attentive to Sergeant Motola’s crisis intervention approach and apprehended the subject without deadly force.
• Detective David Alvarez, who was assigned as the lead investigator of the death of Mr. Erik Stocker, which was ruled a homicide. The case was difficult to investigate because there were no witnesses or video surveillance cameras to aid the investigation. Through physical evidence gathered at the scene and hours of following up on leads, detectives identified a person of interest in connection to the homicide. With the help of NYPD they were able apprehend the subject and both Detective Alvarez and Charens were able to get the suspect to provide statement placing himself on the crime scene and admitting to killing Mr. Stocker.
• Officer Steven Ybern and his K-9 partner Gunny, who made an incredible apprehension last year. In March 2019, a male subject robbed a valet employee at gun point in broad daylight on South Beach, which led to a vehicle pursuit and, eventually, a pursuit via foot in a Miami area that was unfamiliar to Miami Beach officers. The officers were tasked with conducting a house to house, yard to yard, methodical search for the subject at large that had been seen running with a pistol in his hand . During the search, Officer Ybern and his K-9 partner Gunny located the armed subject hiding inside a shed in the backyard of a house.
Fire & Ocean Rescue Chief Virgil Fernandez presented the following awards to:
• Lieutenant Desislava “Desi” Stoyanova who, under her leadership, saved multiple victims from drowning at different locations. In December of 2019, Ocean Rescue Division units were closing down for the day when a notification for a water rescue at 22nd Street came in. Upon arrival Lt. Stoyanova met with Fire Rescue units, which were already attempting to rescue victims in the water and under her command were able secure multiple victims and treat them. As they were wrapping up, a second notification was received of a 10 person drowning incident at 6th Street. Under her leadership, Lt. Stoyanova directed a second team and multiple victims were rescued.
• Lifeguard Carlos Escudero, who saved an injured man after radioing that someone had collapsed on the beach behind 5th Street in September 2019. He established that a 50- year old male was unconscious and immediately called for support and started CPR. CPR was continued until Fire Rescue units arrived for ALS. Patient established breathing and pulse before leaving the beach and being transported to Mt. Sinai.
• Fire Lieutenant Giancarlo Garcia, who responded to a report of a water leak at the Shore Club located at 1901 Collins Avenue in January of 2019. At the scene, he made his way to the pool equipment room and was informed by four hotel employees that the water leak was coming from a fire sprinkler, but they had stopped the water flow prior to their arrival.
The same four employees also complained of symptoms, which included difficulty breathing, dizziness, and headaches. While assessing the patients, Lieutenant Garcia noted all of them had significantly elevated levels of carbon monoxide in their bloodstream. Lieutenant Garcia and his crew quickly began to evacuate the area. A total of 13 patients were treated that day with 9 being transported to area hospitals and 6 patients transported to Mercy Hospital for potential treatment in the hyperbaric chamber.
• Firefighter Derek Lewis, who in April 2019 was dispatched to a burning building. Fire was dispatched to a fire alarm ringing at Seacoast Towers along Collins Ave where crew made their way to the lobby and were informed by citizens that there was smoke on the 15th floor. When they arrived on the 15th floor, they encountered the hallway full of thick black heavy smoke and residents evacuating. Firefighter Derek Lewis located a single fire victim in the master bedroom hallway who, Unfortunately, succumbed to his injuries.
Chief Virgil Fernandez also presented 911 Dispatcher Rebecca Ramos with an award for her calmness and resourcefulness during pressure. In January 2020, Rebecca Ramos was working Dispatch Main channel when she heard an officer say they had subjects at gunpoint. The scene quickly escalated, and officers could be heard yelling shots fired and Officer down. She Rebecca remained calm and professional and commenced to sending additional units, maintaining locations, requesting rescue and coordinating road closures all while receiving directions from the officers on the scene whose voices showed considerable stress. She did an amazing job of accurately placing all involved officers in their correct assignments, directing and coordinating the communication with all involved units of police and fire all while maintaining a calm and professional demeanor. Her actions contributed to the prompt delivery of assistance to the injured officers and to the safety of all on the scene.
The honorees were sponsored by a leading business or organization in the community:
o BNI South Beach
o City National Bank
o Mango’s Tropical Café
o Atlantic Broadband
o East of Collins
o ServPro Miami Beach
o Baptist Health South Florida
o Uptime Technologies
The event was open to the public.