DAYTON — Three Vandalia firefighters were awarded on Saturday for their “courage and dedication” for successfully rescuing a woman threatening suicide on over Interstate 70 last summer.
Robert Corwin, Mike Harmon, and Brad Heltkamp were named the Firefighters of the Year by the Greater Montgomery County Fire Chiefs Association and the Montgomery County Association of Police Chiefs. The award was presented at the groups’ annual banquet Saturday evening.
Vandalia Mayor Arlene Setzer said that Vandalia is fortunate to have dedicated and courageous fire fighters.
“We are so thankful and privileged as a community to have such dedicated firefighters as Firefighter Corwin, Harmon and Heitkamp,” said Setzer. “Not knowing what a call entails until on site, our fighters as a team were there to make the difficult rescue. Congratulations are extended to these special heroes.”
During the rescue, the firefighters extended a ladder from I-70 up to the Dixie Drive overpass, put a safety belt around her, and then pulled her to the ladder. Bystanders clapped and cheered when she was safely rescued.
This video shows firefighters as they prepare to rescue the woman:
This video shows the moment of the actual rescue:
“I believe it is important to note and celebrate the courage and bravery that it took this crew to put themselves into harm’s way to affect this rescue,” wrote Vandalia Fire Chief Chad Follick in his nominating letter.
Follick said the crew, Ladder 3, showed bravery that reflects well on all public safety professionals.
“I feel that this act of courage and dedication is indicative of the manner in which all of our local public safety professionals operate daily and in a time where only the negative or controversial sides of these mental health calls get portrayed in the media,” said Follick.
Follick said that when the crew responded, they were initially instructed to keep the woman from moving further south on the bridge which would have put her further out over I-70. She decided she wanted to come down, however, and “the crew had to rapidly develop a plan and then transition to a rescue operation.”
Follick said that after reaching the woman on the ladder, she wouldn’t let go of the fence. The firefighters had to “bear hug” the woman to pull her back to the ladder safely.
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