Warren firefighters recognized for lifesaving actions

Fire Dept. also honored by AHA for EMS service

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published June 16, 2017

WARREN — Responding to a nightmare scenario is in the potential job description every day for first responders.

It happened twice in recent weeks for a group of Warren firefighters from three stations.

On May 1, teams assigned to Unit 1 from Station 4, Station 5 and Station 6 were dispatched to an afternoon crash on the ramp from eastbound Interstate 696 to northbound Mound, where a truck hauling steel discs overturned onto a passenger car. On June 6, the same crews were called to the scene of a trench collapse on Van Dyke, north of Chicago Road.

In both instances, the trapped men survived.

In presenting commendations to 14 firefighters gathered at City Hall June 14, Warren Mayor Jim Fouts called them “hometown heroes.” The city also announced receipt of the departmentwide American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline EMS-Gold recognition for a third consecutive year. The department earned Silver recognition in 2014.

“Clearly, the Warren firefighters are heroes,” Fouts said. “No fire department in the state can equal this.”

Fouts recalled the circumstances surrounding the epic rescue operation on the freeway, where a 55-year-old Hazel Park resident was pulled from the crushed wreckage of his car by firefighters who cut him free using the Jaws of Life.

“They were able to precisely, with a physician’s precision, to extract this man by pulling out part of the dashboard and the seat and saved his life,” Fouts said.

Commenting on what he called the “miracle on Van Dyke Avenue” trench rescue, the mayor confirmed that the trapped 37-year-old Howell man was completely buried at one point, and was ultimately rescued by firefighters after two hours of hand digging with small tools while suspended upside down in the trench.

Warren Fire Department Capt. Ronald Laszczak led the on-scene rescue operations at both incidents.

“Give me fires any day. This is totally outside the realm, outside the box,” Laszczak said. “This is where your training kicks in. You’re doing things you’re trained to do. I’m only as good as my guys, and my guys are 100 percent. I couldn’t do it without them.”

In accepting the American Heart Association award on behalf of the department, Fire Commissioner Wilburt “Skip” McAdams said many everyday runs sadly don’t end as well as the two recent heroic saves.

“You guys work hard every day.  Most of the time, it’s not a happy outcome. We don’t recognize bad events,” McAdams said. “Truly, I understand what the job entails. Every outcome is not a positive outcome like this, and because of that it just makes it special.

“The jobs you do on a daily basis that go unrecognized are what you do for a living and the service you provide,” McAdams said.

Kathie Thomas, senior director of quality and systems improvement for the American Heart Association, said the Mission: Lifeline EMS-Gold award looks at the system of emergency medical care as a whole and recognizes the role that paramedics play in that system.

“They’re the ones getting that EKG on that patient in a timely manner. They’re the ones getting that patient to a hospital for the appropriate care,” Thomas said. “Without you, the system of care would not be possible.”

The city of Warren recognized 14 firefighters from Station 4, Station 5 and Station 6 June 14 for their work at two successful rescue operations this year. The entire department was also recognized by the American Heart Association with a Mission: Lifeline EMS-Gold award. 

Capt. Ronald Laszczak
Lt. James Selakowski
Lt. Scott Miller
Sgt. Ted Garwood
Fire engine operator Robert Loring
Fire engine operator Eric Kamm
Fire engine operator Timothy Osborne
Firefighter Matthew Walsh
Firefighter Anthony Salajka
Firefighter Joel Ricketts
Firefighter Sean Justman
Firefighter Christopher Lipka
Probationary firefighter Michael Grimshaw
Probationary firefighter Jonathan Regan