Archive for Saturday, October 10, 2009

Eight firefighters honored for river rescue

Firefighters were honored at a ceremony in Manhattan Friday. They were responsible for saving the life of a 14-year-old boy who fell into the Kansas River back on June 5.

October 10, 2009


They’ll tell you they were just doing their job, but on Friday a group of eight local firefighters received a statewide honor for going “above and beyond the call of duty.”

“We risk a lot to save a lot, and we certainly felt that, that day,” Lawrence paramedic Mark Parker said.

Parker and fellow firefighters at Lawrence’s Fire Station No. 3 were presented with the Tom McGaughey Award for their heroism during a daring river rescue on June 5, 2009.

The award is named for former Wichita Fire Chief Tom McGaughey, who died fighting a fire in November 1968.

The Lawrence firefighters were among the first on the scene of the rescue near the Bowersock Dam on the Kansas River. A 14-year-old Lawrence boy had slipped into the water and was stuck under a large log.

“We each took turns going into the water and holding each other — giving each other physical support because the current wore us out,” Parker said.

The firefighters worked frantically to free the teen from the log, fighting the force of the current the entire time. Parker said at that point, their training in swift water rescues really kicked in.

“The child was under the log about 10 to 15 feet out into the water, and it’s amazing how much training plays a big part,” Parker said. “Just subconsciously you do your job, and I’m just glad it was a favorable outcome.”

Parker said the boy was lifeless when he was pulled from the water. Paramedics were able to resuscitate him at the scene, before he was flown to Children’s Mercy Hospital.

Parker went to visit the child in the hospital a couple of days after the incident. The boy made a full recovery.

“When you sit back and reflect on what we did and what transpired, I think everybody has a sense of relief and a sense of pride,” Parker said. “It’s what we do.”

The firefighters received the honor Friday during the annual conference of the Kansas State Association of Fire Chiefs in Manhattan.

In addition to Parker, Lawrence firefighters Sandy Herd, Leo Leiker, Greg Murray, Will Halligan, Troy Gourley, Kevin Fussell and Ryan Kelly were also honored.

“It was an exhilarating time that day,” Capt. Sandy Herd said after receiving the award. “I have often reflected since then on the heroic actions of my crew and all of the people involved.”

And according to Parker, it’s a day the crew won’t soon forget.

“Absolutely we’ll never forget that,” he said. “We continue to talk about it to this day.”


NoOneSpecial 8 years, 6 months ago

It's about time someone recognized these people! Their own department and the city's administration haven't done anything for them.

Thank you to the State Fire Marshall's office for doing something their own department should have done a long time ago.

Well done my friends!

somebodynew 8 years, 6 months ago

@noonespecial - I agree the department and city hasn't done anything, and I realize this is from the Fire Marshall's Office, but what about the LPD and DGSO officers who were out there also. And from what I know, were the ones who were first on scene, and first to attempt to do anything. According to the picture in the original article they were right on the rope, in the river, with the FF's. It should be kudos to ALL involved from the City and the Community.

thinkagain 8 years, 6 months ago

I very much disagree with Lawrenceguy40. It is appropriate to recognize a job well done, even if it is the job you are supposed to be doing. Congratulations to the this team!

misslawrence 8 years, 6 months ago

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY #3!!!! Congratulations!!!

axe 8 years, 6 months ago

"More self-congratulatory nonsense - they were doing their job and nothing more. Like LPD, most firefighters protect and serve themselves."

Wow Lawrenceguy40 really. They get up in the middle of the night work in an environment full of carcinegons extinguishing a fire. Expose themselves to HIV, Hep C, TB while running those 'routine' medical emergencies. Enter a hazardous material incident location JUST TO SERVE THEMSELVES? That is mighty self-serving of them to do...

" More farmers are killed doing their dangerous job than firefighters and cops combined, but we never see them being hailed as heroes."

I've spent many years working on my families farms. But I never recall having to wear fire resistant gear, fully encapsulated plastic suit, TB masks or 50+ lbs of equipment on my back while farming. Maybe it's me, maybe where your from people are seen running out of the fields as Farmers are running in.... I personally applaud the Farmers of this nation. They do an outstanding job and provide for my family and me. Without them, well you know. But to compare what a Farmer does to a Firefighter or Law Enforcement is like comparing apples to oranges..

" We also never see them complaining that the poor taxpayer won't provide them with the latest, most expensive fancy equipment."

That 'fancy' equipment is there for a purpose! Thermal Imaginer Cameras are used to find hidden fire. Which prevents Firefighters from making holes in your walls where they don't need to be made. It also helps in loss of property and more importantly lives. Gas Detectors save your life when they find a leak in your house. I could go on and on. That equipment they have they need and use. Oh there might be something in that fire station that doesn't get used often but it's like insurance. We hope we never have to use it, but we get it for that 'Just in case situation'. The difference though is your 'just in case' situation means less money out of pocket at once. That Fire equipment 'just in case' means a reduction in loss of life!!

"Boo hoo"

This statement right here tells me right away I'm just wasting my breath with you Lawrenceguy40. You know all and can do all better than those in place! Myself I'm happy and grateful there are people manning those fire stations, in those patrol cars on the streets watching and willing to place theirselves in harms way for my family and me. Cause if it wasn't for them, then I would be stuck with someone like you. And you don't leave that warm safe fuzzy feeling that I get from those that do the job everyday!!

LA_Ex 8 years, 6 months ago

notwhatyouthink - go back and watch the video. I think you will find yourself incorrect. I also remember watching the entire thing as it happened on channel 6. It was much longer than the video posted by LJW.

Lawrenceguy40 - I have a simple question for you since you insist on bringing negativity into a moment that these guys should be proud of.....what have you done with your life? Will your children sit back and tell tales of your courageous actions? Will you be remembered for your empathy and the kindness that you brought to others? Although the comments on this forum are anonymous, and you may not actually voice these thoughts in person...this is the person you are. You choose to be the person that you are. You have a choice before you type on here. Do I want to bring some kindness into this world, or do I want to be that dark cloud just waiting to spoil someone's day? You make the choice.

LA_Ex 8 years, 6 months ago

BTW, I also agree that officers and deputies should also be receiving some type of award or recognition. All the people involved should be very proud. You saved a kids life that day. I know that is what you are supposed to do, but you did it and you did it well. Congrats.

iseedumbpeople 8 years, 6 months ago

lawrenceguy40 - its not "More self-congratulatory nonsense" or "most firefighters protect and serve themselves." because everybody is saying things like "It's about time someone recognized these people! Their own department and the city's administration haven't done anything for them." And look up someone named Lt. Ray McCormack FDNY and see him speak the view of line firefighters.

notwhatyouthink - look at the video and it looks like firefighters are in the water to me.

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