Incident Name: Kern County Awards Ceremony
Incident Time:  
Incident Date: 12-06-2013
Incident Location: Kern County Board of Chambers
Incident Type:  
Resources Used:  
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Medal of Valor for Maricopa Incident: Regan, Tisinger

 On September 26, 2011, Engine 22 from Maricopa, Engine 21, Truck 21, from Taft and Battalion 2 also from Taft, responded to a vehicle accident at Highway 166 and Cerro Noreste Road. The incident involved a pickup truck, a semi-truck carrying an unknown cargo, and a semi-truck carrying propane. While responding, ECC (our Emergency Communications Center) updated responders to advise them that there were possibly multiple people trapped inside their vehicles, which were also reported to be on fire.

When Engine 22 with Captain Regan and Engineer Tisinger arrived on scene, they were faced with a very difficult situation: fire was impinging on the propane tank trailer, the vehicle drivers and occupants were possibly still inside, and traffic was stopped in both directions, blocked by the accident and fire. The fire had the potential to cause a catastrophic explosion known as a Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion, or BLEVE.

This scenario could have been handled by either attacking the fire, or by trying to evacuate everyone on both sides of the scene. Both would have been sound operational decisions, and both had risks and challenges.

Captain Regan made the decision to engage the fire and cool the propane tank with a 2 ½” hoseline.  Additional arriving crews helped to check for victims and deploy additional hose lines. The fire was extinguished.

Unfortunately the pickup driver did not survive. Both semi-truck drivers escaped without injury and an explosion was averted.  This was a very difficult and challenging rescue and fire situation. Captain Regan and Engineer Tisinger both earned Medals of Valor for demonstrating heroism under conditions of imminent personal risk.


Medal of Merit for Truxtun Incident:  Williams, Thompson; also a Unit Citation Medal:  Solis, Williams, Montes, Thompson

On April 13, 2011, just before noon, Bakersfield City Fire Department responded to a report of an elderly man who had driven into a canal near Truxtun Extension and Coffee Rd.   Helicopter 407 was at Meadows Field for routine maintenance. The flight crew was monitoring all radio frequencies, including Bakersfield City Fire frequencies.   After listening as the incident was dispatched and updated, they notified the responding Battalion Chief of their availability. They also started pre-flight checks in case they were needed.

When the first ground units arrived on scene, they reported an elderly man on top of a vehicle in the canal with high and fast moving water. Due to the complexity of the rescue, the Battalion Chief ordered Helicopter 407 to respond and was on scene in three minutes.  The gentleman was trapped on top of his vehicle, after opening his sunroof to climb out, with cold, fast-moving water washing around him. There was a water siphon 50-100 feet downstream that took water underground. He was in a very dangerous position.

A water-based rescue was considered, but deemed too dangerous due to the water siphon. The decision was made to use the helicopter to affect a hoist rescue.  Due to a cable that crossed the canal over the vehicle, plus the proximity of power lines, the helicopter hoist rescue would have to be performed at a high altitude of about 250 feet.   There was a small margin for error: if the rescuer dipped into the water, he might have been caught on the cable or dropped the patient into the fast-moving water.

Under Captain Danny Solis’ direction, the rescuer, Seasonal Firefighter Brandon Thompson, was lowered to the patient as Pilot Patrick Williams piloted the helicopter. Seasonal Firefighter Juan Montes acted as a Safety Officer to help minimize the risk.  The rescuer reached the patient, he was successfully picked off the car, and he was moved to the bank of the canal for treatment.

Pilot Williams and Seasonal Firefighter Thompson earned Meals of Merit for demonstrating exemplary behavior, outstanding achievement, and meritorious service.


Medal of Merit for Mountain 99 Incident:  Phillips, Barrett

 On January 19, 2012, Engine 76 from Kernville was requested to respond north of Kernville in Tulare County for a vehicle over the side and into the Kern River at Mountain 99 and Brush Creek.  The driver’s husband found the vehicle over the side. He searched for his wife’s vehicle after her work called him because she didn’t show up that day.   

Engineer Jim Phillips and Firefighter Brian Barrett were assigned to Engine 76. Their Captain was at a safety training event.  When Engine 76 arrived on scene, they were faced with a car on its wheels, in the Kern River, about 200 feet down from the road. The driver had managed to get herself out of the vehicle and was on to a rock on the bank of the river. She had been there for over five hours; she had several injuries, was hypothermic, and was unresponsive.

Liberty Ambulance was on scene and providing medical attention to the patient. An air ambulance also responded.  The crew determined that the best way to rescue the patient would be to clear a path through the thick brush with a chain saw, and then use a rope rescue system and a Stokes litter (or stretcher) to haul the patient up to the road.

The rescue was successful. The patient was brought up to the road and transferred to the ground ambulance who then passed the victim to a waiting air ambulance helicopter which transported her to a hospital for treatment.

This was not a typical rescue response. Engineer Phillips and Firefighter Barrett were the only two county firefighters on scene for quite a while. They had to take the lead role in performing the rescue and coordinating resources. They received assistance from a few United States Forest Service personnel on scene who were eager to help but had limited emergency medical care and rope rescue training.

Engineer Phillips and Firefighter Barrett earned Medals of Merit for demonstrating exemplary behavior, outstanding achievement, and meritorious service.


Fire Dispatcher of the Year:  Edwards

 The Dispatcher of the Year program started as a county-wide program in 1998. The tradition continues at our Emergency Communications Center, or ECC.  Our agency sets criteria for nominations. They include:

 · Satisfactory attendance

 · An Emergency Medical Dispatch compliance of 98% or higher

 · A Satisfactory or higher Employee Performance Report

 · A customer service compliance of 98% or higher

 Once the nominees are identified, a ballot is issued that lists their names.   The ballots are then completed by their peers at the Emergency Communications Center.

This year, Donna Edwards was selected. Her peers noted that she is a positive role model; she is devoted to duty; she is professional, kind, and compassionate with 9-1-1 callers regardless of their demeanor; she displays strong character that dispels negativity; she is a team player; and she has always been an outstanding, ethical, and dedicated employee.  She has been at the Emergency Communications Center for 8 years.

Donna has earned Fire Dispatcher of the Year in recognition of her excellence performance in public safety dispatching.


Lifesaving Medal for Elk Hills Incident 1:   Bowman, Langston, Latham B., Latham S., Thomas, Wagner

On October 10, 2011, in the 35R area of Elk Hills, a call for help was made for a man possibly suffering from a heart attack.  A group of co-workers responded to give aid.  Kirk Langston started CPR as the call went out to 9-1-1 and on-site EMTs. A crew from Action Response came to assist. Brandon Latham, Sydney Latham, and Brooke Wagner arrived to assist with CPR and an AED (automatic external defibrillator). Luke Thomas from Trans-West Security also arrived and assisted with airway management.

Kern County Fire Engine 21 from Taft, Engine 24 from McKittrick, and Hall Ambulance from Taft arrived to provide patient care and set up a landing zone for a helicopter air ambulance.   The patient was transported by ground ambulance to the helicopter.   Before being loaded into the helicopter, the patient regained consciousness.

Thanks to the rapid treatment and care by this group of individuals that included CPR and an AED (defibrillator), the patient survived.   As pointed out by Battalion Chief Brent Moon, this is a testament to the effectiveness of a good safety program and a plan that is making a difference for workers at Elk Hills.  

The nomination review panel wanted to not only recognize the people directly involved in saving this man’s life, but also the person who put this program in place. That person is David Bowman of Action Response.


 Lifesaving Medal for Elk Hills Incident 2:  Clark, In den Keef, Perkins

 On March 12, 2012, a vehicle accident was reported on Elk Hills Road, 1 mile north of Skyline Rd.   When Engine 25 from Buttonwillow arrived on scene, they were faced with a two-vehicle head-on collision. The collision left one driver fatally injured. The other vehicle was fully involved in fire, which had also started a grass fire. People on scene advised our firefighters that the driver had been pulled from the vehicle as it caught fire. The driver was being treated by Trans-West Security EMTs.

William Clark and Vincent In den Kleef had pulled the victim from the burning vehicle. Eric Perkins assisted them with c-spine precautions and medical care.   Had they not pulled the patient from the burning vehicle and rendered aid, he might not have survived.

These individuals have earned Lifesaving Medals for displaying anticipation, ingenuity, and participation in an unexpected situation in the saving of a life without creating additional hazards or putting themselves at great risk.






















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