Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Phoenix Awards to First Responders



In ancient Greece and Egypt the Phoenix was known as a bird that has a life cycle of 500 to 1,000 years, after which its nest burns to ashes and the bird is reborn. In the thousands of years since the myth of the Phoenix has circled the world from Pole to Pole and from east to west.

Some time ago Collier County instituted the Phoenix Award for special first responders who bring back to life those who have suffered cardiac arrest. This does not mean people who have had some form of heart attack; it means someone who is technically dead, who has stopped breathing, and whose heart has actually stopped beating. The victims survived and walked out of hospitals thanks to the heroic acts of first responders – including emergency services technicians, paramedics, police officers, and ordinary people. On October 11, 2011, Collier County presented the Phoenix Award to the following emergency medical technicians, paramedics and police officers for their roles in saving lives of citizens and visitors:

  • Marco Island Police Department: Sgt. Tony Spina, Marine Officer Ed Stamm, Sgt. Brian Hood, Reserve Officer Andy Delgado and Officer Robert Sims, Lt. Pete Beucler.
  • Marco Island Fire Department: Fire Chief Mike Murphy, Captain Dean Heasley, Firefighter Paramedic, Nelson Ramirez (two awards), Firefighter Paramedic Albert Munoz, Firefighter EMT Leo Rodriquez, Lieutenant Paramedic Robert Riegler (two awards), Firefighter ENT Steve Hagmann (two awards), Engineer Paramedic Dustin Beatty, Firefighter EMT Ray Ladurini, Firefighter Paramedic Chris Bowden, Battalion Chief Don Jones, Firefighter Paramedic Hafid Oliver, Firefighter Paramedic Ed Cabal, Firefighter Paramedic Munier Gattas.

Survival is made possible by prompt and proper action by friends, relatives and strangers. Everyone knows that men (particularly) are stubborn, particularly where doctors and hospitals are involved. Just as men do not stop at gas stations for directions when lost, they also often refuse medical attention when in physical distress. Someone recently said: “Thank God for wives!” They are the ones who most often persuade the victim that help is needed quickly. Sometimes the wifely role is exercised by a friend, or even a stranger. Refusing hospital attention is more than a “male thing”. Many people are embarrassed by having an ambulance appear to pick them up; others are concerned about costs. But saving a life is much more important.

There are some vital points about emergency services, emphasized by Fire Chief Mike Murphy. The two most important are:

  1. Call 911 for emergency service.
  2. Do NOT attempt to drive yourself to a medical facility.

The old commercial about “the life you save may be your own” is truer than ever. Many life saving services are available today than just a few short years ago. The Phoenix Awardees and the people they saved are living proof.


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