Two local Cal Fire firefighters received Governor’s Medal of Valor awards Wednesday for acts of heroism that went above and beyond the normal call of duty, Cal Fire said.
The recipients were among 15 state employees who were honored for their acts of bravery and heroism in order to save the life of another.
Cal Fire described the heroic actions taken by Fresno-Kings firefighter Emilio Valencia of Mendota and Madera-Mariposa fire apparatus engineer Johnny Miller of Eastvale in Southern California:
▪ Valencia was on his way to a medical call on Feb. 10, 2014, when there was a report of a building on fire. When his crew arrived on scene, witnesses told them someone had run back inside, and sounds of screaming could be heard from beyond the flames.
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After putting on his safety gear, Valencia entered the home alone with the fire hose attack line. Obstacles forced him to leave the hose behind and proceed further to find the person.
He could hear the cries getting louder as he got closer to the victim. He made his way down a hallway and into a room where he found a man lying on the ground in a fetal position. Valencia reassured the victim that he was there to help, but, when he began to pull the man to safety, the man started panicking and resisted his efforts.
Despite the struggle, Valencia managed to finish the rescue.
▪ Miller was boating with his family on July 25, 2015, in a remote area of the Colorado River near Lake Havasu, Ariz., when he saw a boat suddenly submerge throwing two infants and four adults into the water.
Miller dove into the water and rescued the infants before going back for their mother, who couldn’t swim. The three men in the water swam away from the sinking boat as Miller directed. None of the adults were wearing life vests.
“Our firefighters put their lives on the line every day,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, Cal Fire director. “But these individuals had to make decisions to act quickly, without regard to their own safety.”