Civilians and First Responders Honored at the Valley Preferred Spirit of Courage Awards Celebration
Fourteen Individuals Honored for Their Burn Heroism at Seventh Annual
Valley Preferred Spirit of Courage Award Celebration
LEHIGH VALLEY, Pa., October 3, 2012 – Residents from northern and northeastern Pennsylvania were honored for acts of heroism or commitment to burn education on October 2 at the seventh annual Valley Preferred Spirit of Courage Award Celebration held underneath the Nite Lites tent at Lehigh Valley Hospital—Muhlenberg.
The program was started locally by Valley Preferred, Lehigh Valley Health Network and the Burn Prevention Network to recognize persons who go “above and beyond” to perform a heroic act to save someone from burn deaths or injury. Valley Preferred, a provider-owned, preferred provider organization, is sponsoring the program to raise public awareness regarding burn safety and prevention. “We’re proud to participate with the program to honor those who have done an outstanding job of preserving health through acts of heroism and promoting fire safety and burn prevention education,” said Valley Preferred general manager Christina Lewis.
Burn Prevention Network director Dan Dillard said that they are proud to partner with Valley Preferred and Lehigh Valley Health Network, “to shine a light on the selfless acts of heroism of our first responders and everyday citizens. It’s our way of thanking them for the selfless, yet sometimes thankless acts of courage they have performed.”
Here are the honorees who were recognized at the event:
Valley Preferred Spirit of Courage Awards
Kenneth Martin, Allentown, Pa.
Kenneth Martin was working security at an establishment on North Seventh Street in the early hours of April 23 when he spotted an orange glow across the street. Seeing a child through a first-floor window spurred him to run into the building to evacuate its occupants. When he learned there was possibly a woman still on the third floor – the fire location – he ran back to retrieve a fire extinguisher and attempted to put out the fire while assisting residents. The home was destroyed, but nine people escaped with their lives thanks in part to Martin’s selfless actions.
Terry Raffety, Firefighter, Temple Fire Company No. 1
While en route to a vehicle fire in Muhlenberg Township on the evening of Aug. 20, 2011, Temple Fire Company Engine 11-2 was flagged down for a house fire on Kutztown Road. Firefighter Raffety was met by the frantic homeowner, who informed him that her paralyzed husband was still inside the smoke-filled home in a second floor bedroom. Raffety entered the house without the protection of a charged hose line or any other firefighters. He found the man and carried him down the stairs to the ambulance waiting at the door.
Erik Bammer and Michael Hartranft, Firefighters, Whitehall Fire Department
When firefighters Bammer and Hartranft arrived at a home on Thebes Turn Road on Nov. 30, 2011, they found smoke and flames coming from the back. They entered the home in search of the owner, who had gone back for his pets. They found him unconscious on the floor alongside his dog. Thanks to their swift action, they were able to get him outside quickly, where Cetronia ambulance EMTs revived him.
Patrolman William O’Brien, Scranton Police Department
On a hot July 16, Officer William O’Brien was on routine patrol when he smelled smoke. He got out to investigate and quickly found the source—flames and smoke coming from the second floor of a house on Luzerne Street. He could see a disabled elderly woman in bed on the first floor. He was able to enter the apartment through a rear door, where he encountered another resident and a German shepherd dog. The man was not aware of the fire. When he told O’Brien that another man and his young son were upstairs, O’Brien raced up the smoke-filled steps to get them out. He then returned to the first floor to rescue the disabled woman.
Cpl. Robert Stanek and Patrolman Francis McLane, Scranton Police Department
When a call came in for a structure fire on South Main Avenue in the early morning hours of March 30, Corporal Robert Stanek and Officer Francis McLane were each a block away. They saw thick, black smoke billowing from the third floor when they arrived on scene. When a resident informed them that people were still inside, Stanek went inside to search the first floor while McLane headed for the second floor. They evacuated five residents just as the third floor ceiling flashed over in flames.
Cpl. Thomas McDonald, Patrolmen Chris Kaushas, Joseph Kearney and Daniel Schaufler, Scranton Police Department
The predawn hours of April 9 had been particularly busy for the Scranton Police Department. When a call came in for a fire with entrapment on Beech Street, patrolmen Kaushas, Kearney, Schaufler and Corporal McDonald responded. They arrived to find three people on a second-floor roof with flames and smoke coming from the windows behind them. The officers pulled a patrol car up to the house and caught the residents as they jumped from the roof. Strong winds had pushed the fire to the house next door. The officers entered that house to rescue a woman who had gone back in for her dog. When an elderly relative of one of the victims suffered a heart attack at the scene, Schaufler drove the ambulance while the paramedics worked to revive him. Five people owe their lives to the quick action of the Scranton police.
The Phoenix Award
Marlin Yorty and Nora McCormish, burn survivors, Cody, Wy.
In September 2008, Marlin Yorty was part of a power company crew working on electrical equipment they believed was out of service. He was working from a manlift platform to disconnect a large wire from a piece of equipment when an electrical arc occurred, causing his muscles to contract and making it impossible to let go of the wire. A crew member on the ground lowered the platform, breaking the arc and stopping the flow of electricity. Yorty was flown to the Lehigh Valley Health Network Regional Burn Center with severe electrocution burns to his hands and a large exit wound on his back. His right hand and three fingers on his left hand had to be amputated. His remaining index finger and thumb had limited use.
Rather than allowing themselves to be consumed with what they had lost – a very normal and reasonable response – Yorty and his wife Nora McCormish, with him every step of the way, immediately turned their challenges into opportunities to help others. The married couple helps other burn survivors through the SOAR (Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery) program. She has assisted in fundraising efforts and helped spearhead the Lunch Bunch, a new type of caregiver support program. He started a driving service at their church. Wherever they go, their warmth and humor immediately engage people, and their strength and optimism leave everyone feeling uplifted and hopeful.
Partners in Prevention Award
Bernard Roecker, Bethlehem, Pa.
Bernie Roecker has devoted more than 50 years of service to Nancy Run Fire Company, Bethlehem, and is still actively serving. Six years after joining Nancy Run, he was elected fire chief, a position he held for 25 years. The fire company twice acknowledged his devoted service by naming him firefighter of the year in 1985 and 2010. He has held the rank of fire marshal since 1965. In addition to his constant attention to company administration and operations, Roecker has been a passionate proponent of community fire safety outreach. He has coordinated and staffed educational outreach programs for thousands of children over the years. He regularly uses the Burn Prevention Network Fire Safety House to teach area children and family members about home escape, contacting 9-1-1 and avoiding common burn situations. Roecker’s engineering background makes him “Mr. Fix-it” around the firehouse. According to his fellow Nancy Run firefighters, “If anything breaks anywhere on Earth, Bernie can fix it with no questions asked.” Clearly, he is a man not only ready to fix problems, but actively engaged in preventing them as well.