CAL FIRE Firefighters Receive Medal of Valor from Governor
Award is California’s Highest Public Servant Honor
Sacramento – On December 10, 2009, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger awarded two CAL FIRE employees the Governor's Medal of Valor for demonstrating extraordinary bravery and heroism in saving a life. The firefighters received the Medal of Valor, the highest honor that California bestows upon its public servants, as part of a ceremony recognizing 27 state employees.
“I am proud Governor Schwarzenegger is recognizing both Steve Guarino and Jeff Young today,” said Chief Del Waters, director of CAL FIRE. “They truly are a reflection of the caliber of employee we have working for CAL FIRE and their actions exemplify the excellent service the citizens of California deserve.”
Jeff Young, Fire Captain
On June 25, 2008, a Boy Scout troop was camping in the remote Wishon Lake area of eastern Fresno County. At approximately 1:30 p.m., a fourteen-year-old member of the troop was crossing a stream when a boulder, estimated to weigh about 10 tons, rolled and trapped the boy’s leg between it and another boulder. At approximately 6:00 p.m., the CAL FIRE/Fresno Kings unit Emergency Command Center received a 911 emergency call from the Boy Scout leader who had hiked over 10 miles to summon help. A request was immediately sent out for the CAL FIRE/Fresno County Fire Technical Rescue Team and the Army National Guard Black Hawk Helicopter with high altitude and night vision technology. At about 11:00 p.m. the helicopter arrived in Fresno and the rescue team was informed that the military crew would have to remain with the helicopter thus limiting the rescue attempt to only one fire department team member. CAL FIRE Fire Captain Jeff Young immediately volunteered and began assessing the rescue situation and selected the rescue equipment he believed would be necessary for the operation and that did not exceed the weight limitations of the helicopter. He and the crew left shortly thereafter.
Around midnight, the helicopter landed in the safest and closest location it could. With the assistance of two Army National Guard Helicopter crewmen, Fire Captain Young led a 45 minute hike, in the dark, through treacherously steep rocky terrain while carrying rescue equipment and using a handheld GPS unit and flashlight to reach the boy’s location. After nearly three hours of rescue efforts, Fire Captain Young and the team were able to move the 10 ton boulder just far enough to free the boy’s leg. Fire Captain Young and the helicopter crew then administered medical aid and carried the boy for more than an hour over the treacherous terrain and back to the helicopter for transport to the nearest trauma center. Fire Captain Young’s actions, without regard for his personal safety, saved the young boy.
Stephen Charles Guarino, Deputy State Fire Marshal, Supervisor
On October 27, 2008, at approximately 1:30 p.m., Deputy State Fire Marshal Supervisor Stephen Charles Guarino was in Sacramento County traveling on Interstate 5 when he witnessed a pick-up truck and van driving erratically. Both vehicles were chasing and slamming into each other through traffic and weaving erratically into and out of all lanes on the freeway. When the van attempted to force the pick-up truck off the road, the truck lost control, ran off the highway, collided with a tree, and caught fire. Deputy Guarino stopped his vehicle and ran to the left side of the truck. He saw that the male driver was going in and out of consciousness. Another witness came to assist in getting the driver out of the burning truck and brought his fire extinguisher. The truck doors were jammed shut, so Deputy Guarino used the fire extinguisher to break the driver’s side window. Both he and the other witness pulled the man out to safety, and Deputy Guarino started administrating first aid to the man until the ambulance arrived. Deputy Guarino’s heroic and speedy actions saved the man’s life.
The Medal of Valor, which started in 1959, is the highest honor that California bestows on its public servants and is awarded to California state employees who have performed an extraordinary act of heroism above and beyond the normal call of duty, at great risk to their own personal safety or life, to save the life of another.
Medal of Valor Event on CAL FIRE TV and Photos
Photos by CAL FIRE Volunteer Photographer Wes Schultz