A group of firefighters, EMTs and paramedics were honored during a resort fire department award ceremony held on Sunday, March 1, for their efforts in saving a woman who had been trapped in a canal after a dock had collapsed. The heroes, from left, are Battalion Chief Doug Scott, firefighter/EMT Jesse Scott, firefighter/paramedic Damian Jones, firefighter/paramedic Jeff Aperance and Lt. David Peterson. 

(March 13, 2020) It is not the nature of the Ocean City Fire Department to brag about the good deeds committed by its personnel. 

However, once a year, department leaders recognize its members who go far beyond expectations and deliver extraordinary service to all resort inhabitants.

The following stories were told during the seventh annual Fire Department Awards and Recognition Ceremony, held on Sunday, March 1 at fire headquarters on 15th Street. 

Dock collapse

On July 1, 2019, at approximately 11:45 a.m., Ocean City EMS personnel were dispatched to a canal near 17th Street. The dock there had collapsed, and there were reports of a child and another victim trapped in the canal. 

Team 50 and team 53 were the first to arrive on scene, and the latter discovered the victims were actually in a different location, and quickly had all teams relocate. 

At the site, they found a Good Samaritan struggling to hold up a woman’s head above the water. 

Bystanders told EMS personnel that the child had been accounted for. 

A crew aboard Fireboat Two, who had been training nearby, quickly came to help, and aboard were firefighter and paramedic Jeff Aperance and Lt. David S. Peterson.

Peterson dived in and assisted the victim and the Samaritan, and crews from Rescue One and Engine One arrived shortly after to assist with removing the two from the water and give medical treatment. 

Along with Aperance and Peterson, the following members were honored: Damian Jones, past Assistant Chief Connor Brannif, Jeff Solembrino, Andrew Grunden, Josh Joyner, Yvette Rode, Aaron Driscoll, Jesse Scott, Douglas Scott, Hayden Ayres, Jack Turner and Cole Zink. 

Motorcycle accident

Late in the evening, on July 30, 2019, a motorcyclist struck another vehicle around 59th Street. 

Lt. Matt James, who also is a city councilman, witnessed the crash and immediately reported the incident, requested the necessary equipment and began administering medical care to the victim whose heart had stopped beating. 

“What makes Lt. James’ actions even more notable was that he performed these actions while being hampered by a medical injury to his lower leg, which was in an immobilization device at the time,” Fire Chief Richie Bowers said. “Lt. James did not hesitate — I’ll say that again — Lt. James did not hesitate to render care without regard to his own personal safety and health.”

The motorcyclist died from his injuries, but Bowers said without a doubt James’ actions had helped the victim in some capacity. 

Distinguished service

On the morning of Christmas Eve 2019, Assistant Chief Will Savage and his family were vacationing in Honolulu, Hawai’i. 

While walking down the beach, Savage noticed a crowd surrounding a man who had suddenly collapsed and was no longer breathing.

Savage assessed the situation, requested medical help and flipped the victim over and began administering compressions. 

Crews from the Honolulu Fire Department arrived on scene and Savage continued to offer his expertise and help throughout the situation. 

The patient survived the ordeal, and was released from the hospital with no lingering medical ailments. 

He later contacted Savage to thank him for his help. 

“This is the perfect example of somebody being in the right place at the right time,” Bowers said.

Josh covers everything Ocean City government and crime. He graduated from the University of Richmond in 2019 with a B.A. in French and Journalism.

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