After saving the lives of two elderly people who suffered from massive heart attacks and rescuing a blind man from a fierce fire, a group of 16 Hialeah firefighters was recognized by the City Council last week.
Hialeah Fire Chief Miguel Anchía said the March 11 ceremony was a much-deserved recognition of heroes who work and risk their lives for Hialeah residents every day.
“I am very proud of all the firefighters in our department,” Anchía said. “On this occasion we are recognizing this group for the work they have done in difficult situations, saving human lives.”
Mayor Carlos Hernández said the awards were a public expression of gratitude by the community toward people committed to public service.
“I believe it’s very important to recognize our employees when they do something as special as saving lives,” Hernández said. “Day after day they do many good things for which at times they do not receive our gratitude. I also believe this recognition is not only for those who receive it tonight but for all members of the department.”
The first award-winners — members of Station No. 7 in Northwest Hialeah — are lieutenants Armando González and Stephen Lyon, firefighters Francisco de Paz, David Fernández-Hermo and Albert Martínez, and engineer Mario Gutiérrez.
At about midnight on Tuesday, Dec. 10, a rescue unit from that station saved an elderly diabetic woman suffering a heart attack. Given the emergency, another unit arrived at the scene in the west part of the city to successfully revive the 71-year-old woman.
Four days earlier, the family of an elderly victim of a heart attack took him to Station No. 2, on East 42nd Street and LeJeune Road.
The family of the 75-year-old man was taking him to the hospital when he became unconscious. At the station, the firefighters started the emergency process of reviving him and after several attempts at defibrillation, they were able to stabilize him. Shortly afterward, the man was taken to Palmetto General Hospital to receive special care.
Those recognized for this emergency were District Chief Peter Siegel, Capt. Hermógenes Lacayo, Lt. Arcenio Cruz, firefighters Debbie Ball, Andre Mompoint, Marshall St Gerard, and engineer Frank Galiano.
According to Anchía, about 7 to 8 percent of people are victims of massive heart attacks nationally. But in Hialeah, that number goes up to 20 percent.
“We have a population that demands that we are always ready to respond to that reality,” Anchía said.
The members of the third award-winning group — of Station No. 6 at West Eighth Avenue and 23rd Street — are Lt. John Kenyon, firefighter Rafael Salas and engineer Chris Muni.
In April 2012, the three firefighters rushed to put out a fire in an apartment on the west side of the city, close to the racetrack. Police were already on the scene. A blind man with a psychiatric background was trapped inside the apartment amid dense smoke.
The police officers broke down the locked door, but couldn’t go in due to the intensity of the flames. However, despite not being able to see anything, Kenyon and Salas entered the apartment. When they reached the kitchen, they found a man who was alive, though quite confused.
The firefighters got the victim out to the backyard where another team awaited to give him medical care. The firefighters went back inside the apartment, and, with Muni’s help, successfully put out the fire, which was started by a pot on the stove. The patient was treated for mild burns and inhaling smoke and was later taken to a hospital for additional care.
“These are examples of the sacrifice of our firefighters,” Anchía said. “They show that they are ready to protect Hialeah citizens at any moment.”