Valor awards highlight selfless acts of heroism


Each and every day, members of local law enforcement agencies, fire departments and EMS services put their own lives on the line to ensure welfare of members of the community. Oftentimes their deeds go unnoticed except by those who experience their courageous and selfless acts firsthand. But once a year, the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce takes time to recognize the outstanding individuals from local departments and companies who make local residents’ and visitors’ lives safer.

Coastal Point •  Ryan Saxton: The Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce awarded Valor Awards to heroic first responders from the resort area.Coastal Point • Ryan Saxton
The Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce awarded Valor Awards to heroic first responders from the resort area.

This past Friday, Feb. 10, the Chamber hosted the 2012 Joshua M. Freeman Valor Awards at DiFebo’s Bistro on the Green at Bear Trap Dunes in Ocean View. Each of the local departments recognized the heroics of exceptional individuals from within their number, with just one of the nominees being awarded with the ceremony’s top honor, the annual Justin M. Freeman Valor Award, which four years ago was renamed in memory of the late developer and philanthropist Joshua M. Freeman.

Carrie Subity, executive director of the Chamber, hosted the event, as Doug Brown, vice president of Carl M. Freeman Companies – the ceremony’s presenting sponsor – shared some opening remarks.

“These first-responders are the backbone of our community,” said Brown. “Unfortunately, commitment does not come without a cost.”

Brown reminded those in attendance of the risks that individuals take, citing the loss of Alexandria, Va., firefighter Joshua Weissman just a day earlier. Weissman fell from an interstate overpass while responding to an automobile accident. Brown also spoke of Jeremy Henwood, a San Diego police officer who was shot and killed last year in the line of duty.

“We are surrounded by unique individuals,” said Brown, “and it takes significant personal commitment to be involved in the emergency services industry, whether part of the police, firefighters or EMS.”

For the first time, joining the nods for Officer of the Year and Firefighter of the Year, the medical personnel responsible for timely assistance during most emergency calls were also recognized, as the 2012 Joshua M. Freeman Valor Awards introduced the EMS/EMT of the Year award for the first time.

The following individuals were recognized as Officer, Firefighter and EMS/EMTs of the Year in their respective departments:

Police

Bethany Beach Police Department

Cpl. Jason Riddle

Fenwick Island Police Department

Cpl. Stephen Majewski

Ocean View Police Department

Cpl. Sidney Ballentine

Selbyville Police Department

Cpl. Michael Bruette

Firefighters

Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company

Firefighter Steve Lett

Roxana Volunteer Fire Company

President Todd Marvel

Millville Volunteer Fire Company

Firefighter Robert T. Derrickson

EMS

Clarksville Emergency Medical Services

EMS David Hammer

Roxana Volunteer Fire Company

EMT Guy Hudson

Millville Volunteer Fire Company

EMT/FF Amber Gentry, EMT Keith Baker Sr.

Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company

FF/EMT Andy Johnson, FF/EMT William Ireland Jr.

With more than a dozen emergency responders up for the top award of the year, in the end, it was the Millville Volunteer Fire Company’s Gentry and Baker who were recognized with the 2012 Joshua M. Freeman Valor Award for their heroics in June that saved the life of 3-year-old Clay Metro, who was found drowning in a pool.

“It was the first-responders who saved Clay’s life,” said Laura Metro, Clay’s mother. “You don’t really know there are heroes walking among you until you’re in that scenario. It’s so easy to think something like this will never happen to you, but we are forever dedicated and thankful for everything these individuals do.”

“It’s amazing to know that there’s an occupation where people are so well-prepared and go out and execute their actions,” said Matt Metro, Clay’s father. “It’s a wonderful thing to have that feeling of safety and security, knowing that these people are part of our community.”

Baker, who noted that he is hardly ever at a loss for words, said he was very humbled by the award.

“It’s really unbelievable,” he said, “to be up here, recognized among other firefighters, EMTs and police officers who are doing the same things we do every day. To be nominated among them, to have Matt and Laura here, it’s incredible. When they say that it’s a brotherhood, it truly is. We’ve been supported everywhere.”

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Gentry added. “We responded to a fatal automobile accident and a structure fire that same day, but working with these people, it truly is amazing. Everyone has been so supportive.”