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Secretary A. Ralph Mollis to Award Lifesaving Medals

Governor Chafee and Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis Honor Heroes for Lifesaving Exploits

Police, firefighters, and civilians among those receiving the 2013 Rhode Island Lifesaving Medal during State House ceremony

PROVIDENCE, RI -- Governor Lincoln D. Chafee and Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis to honor 26 Rhode Islanders with the 2013 Rhode Island Lifesaving Medal, the state's highest award for heroics while saving human life.

The ceremony will be in the State Room at the State House on Thursday, October 24th, 2013 at 2:00 p.m.

"Because of the tremendous acts of bravery by Rhode Islanders, who demonstrated courage and selflessness, seven people are alive today," Governor Chafee said. "I commend these heroes. They are true role models, and their compassion and willingness to go above and beyond to assist those in dire need has made our State a better place."

"It is an honor and a privilege to honor these fine men and women, who put their own lives on the line to save the life of another," Mollis said. "The heroic efforts of the police officers, firefighters and civilians we are honoring are a perfect example of how all Rhode Islanders are capable of great things."

The State Lifesaving Medal was created under state law to recognize the heroism of firefighters, police officers and civilians who save human life in Rhode Island. The awards are given annually.

Among those receiving this prestigious award this year are:

East Providence Police Officer Ryan Vose, who saw a tearful teenaged boy, sitting on the other side of the suicide fence, on the Potter Street overpass. He was about to jump onto Route 195, directly into traffic when Officer Vose arrived. Officer Vose stayed and compassionately talked with the teen until he convinced him to climb back onto the safety of the bridge. Officer Vose saved a young man's life that day.

Members of the Newport Fire Department - Fire Captain (now retired) Thomas P. Welch, Firefighters Jared E. Leary, David K. Downes, Stephen E. Currey and Acting Lieutenant Richard F. Wheeler, as well as off-duty Pawtucket Fire Department Lieutenant David P. Reed all responded to a report of a 72-year-old man who collapsed in front of Emmanuel Episcopal Church on Dearborn Street. When they arrived they found 2 bystanders administering CPR, one of them, off-duty Pawtucket Firefighter David P. Reed. Newport Fire personnel took over and discovered the victim was in Ventricular Fibrillation. They defibrillated (shocked) the man 3 times, until he was successfully revived. They treated him while he was transported to the hospital. Today, this man is alive and doing well, thanks to the efforts of the Newport and Pawtucket Fire Departments.

Rhode Island State Trooper Andrew Carter and civilians Timothy Banks and Matthew Ferreira acted without concern for their own safety when they encountered a suicidal man on the Newport Pell Bridge in April. Trooper Carter (Wickford Barracks) responded to a report of a man who'd abandoned his bicycle on the bridge and was walking along the bridge railing. When Trooper Carter arrived, the man placed one leg over the bridge railing and he overheard him say, "I hate my life, I want to kill myself!" Trooper Carter ran toward him and secured his arms to prevent him from jumping. Trooper Carter tried to pull him to safety, but the man struggled. Trooper Carter was then joined by passing motorists Timothy Banks and Matthew Ferreira who saw what was happening, and assisted Trooper Carter by securing the suicidal man by his arms and belt. Together, all 3 managed to remove the subject from the railing and save his life.

Woonsocket Police Officers Linden Karsner, Scott Breguet, Jason Berthelette and Gabe Koneczny were all called to Phyllis Thomas Park on Diamond Hill Road for a report of a man trying to hang himself on a playground in front of a child, who was yelling, "No, don't do it!" When officers ran toward the distraught man, they thought he had a rope around his neck, but it was a steel chain. It took all four officers to pull the man over the railing of an apparatus platform to safety, while the man violently resisted their help. Once on the ground, they were able to remove the chain from the man's neck, restrain him, and get him the help he needed at an area hospital.

Burrillville Police Dispatcher Glen Biddiscombe, Sergeant William Lacey, Lieutenant Dennis Leahey and Patrolman William Blais came in contact with a despondent 52-year-old man who parked his pickup truck about a quarter of a mile into the woods. Inside, the man had knives, pills, ammunition and shell casings, as well as a large fishing knife duct taped to his right hand. The suicidal man placed the tip of the blade against his chest and threatened to kill himself. Patrolman Blais approached and from outside the truck, worked to calm the man down, and prevented him from moving forward with his plan to commit suicide. He was later joined by Lieutenant Leahey, who also engaged the man in conversation and after an hour and forty-five minutes, convinced the man to relinquish the knife against his chest, and allowed Lieutenant Leahey to remove the tape from his right hand, and take the knife.

Central Falls Firefighter Daniel Petrin, Pawtucket Firefighter John Wallace, Pawtucket Firefighter Jake Morgan, civilians William Toth, Scott Ford, Nick Phillips, Nathaniel Phillips, Paul Fernandes were all instrumental in saving the lives of two men who launched their canoe into the Blackstone River to help prepare for the 3rd annual Yellow Duck Race to support St. Jude's Children's Hospital. While in the river, a swift current overturned their canoe, sending the men into 50-degree water. They were swept down river, but did manage to grab a safety cable just 40 yards from the treacherous waterfalls. An unknown citizen called 911 while the men yelled for help. That's when Central Falls and Pawtucket Firefighters arrived. As the men struggled to hold on to their lifeline in tumultuous water, firefighters John Wallace, Jake Morgan and Daniel Petrin, along with the victims' friends, William Toth, Scott Ford, Nick Phillips, Nathaniel Phillips and Paul Fernandes carried and launched a rescue boat into the river. The boat, containing the 3 firefighters, secured to land by only one rope tied to the boat, being held by other firefighters and civilians on shore, moved toward the tiring victims who were stating that they couldn't hold on much longer because of the pressure being forced on them by the rushing water. The firefighters in the boat, managed to make it to the victims, reach out, and pull them into the boat to safety. With a combined effort of firefighters and civilians, the boat was pulled back to shore. The victims, suffering from exhaustion and hypothermia, were alive and transported to the hospital for safety.

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Related links

Department or agency: Office of the Secretary of State

Online: http://www.sos.ri.gov/

Release date: 10-15-2013

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