A University of North Texas student waiting to give thanks to those who saved her life joined nearly 200 members of the Denton Fire Department family at the department’s annual awards banquet Saturday night at The Mill.
“I am very thankful for all of them and what they do, not only with saving me, although I am grateful for that, but their work every day,” said Cherise Daniels, a junior majoring in interior design at UNT. “They do this type of stuff all the time, and I am just excited and honored to be here.”
Last February, a crew responding to a medical emergency call found Daniels sitting on the floor complaining of tingling on one side of her body. While being taken to an ambulance, she became unresponsive, and crew members began placing her on a ventilator and administering an IV.
Battalion Chief Brian Glenn told the crowd over dinner that four synchronized cardiac shocks were performed without success and only after the IV was established and a fifth shock was given did Daniels’ heart revert back to normal rhythm.
“The patient was given supportive care, and was taken Code 3 to the nearest hospital for further treatment,” Glenn said.
Daniels had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, officials said. She was transported by CareFlite air ambulance to Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth, where she underwent surgery.
Capt. Lonny Britten, drivers Rory Ellison and Mike Lugo, and firefighters Clay Allison and Jarrett Monschke were announced as recipients of the “Life Saving Medal” because they worked efficiently and effectively to ensure that Daniels had a positive outcome.
Daniels said her future will include volunteering or assisting fire departments.
“Things could have been a lot worse — I might have been severely disabled or even dead and I need to give back when I can because of them,” Daniels said during an interview after the ceremony.
Public safety dispatcher Jo Johnson also received a life saving medal Saturday night. Johnson was honored for giving guidance by telephone to a man performing CPR on his 56-year-old unconscious wife while paramedics were on their way.
From rookie to retiree, many were honored throughout the evening for their achievements last year. Members of the department make nominations throughout the year and members of the command staff make final decisions regarding awards, said Deputy Chief Kenneth Hedges, spokesman for the fire department.
The event is fully funded from donations and sponsorships — no tax dollars are used — and five committee members put everything together for the night’s celebration.
Guest speaker and union president Jason Ballard summed up the spirit of the event during his speech before the awards were presented.
“We are all family,” said Ballard, a driver/paramedic. “The fire department is like a security blanket that helps the city sleep at night.”
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.
Company Citation Award: This award is presented to members of a company who, while in performance of their duty and working as a team, under hazardous conditions, performed outstanding service to the department in a highly commendable manner: Sara Athey, Corbin Evans, Ryan Poyner, Jason Ballard, Jeremy Hammonds, Jeremy Punches, Davis Batson, Jeremy Hardcastle, Delante Bell, David Hickman, Bradley Boone, Brandon Hillis, David Boots, Chris Johnson, Daniel Boyd, Brad Lahart, Jacob Cooper, Audie Morris, Jacob Craver, Brian Nalley, Jeff Dye and Jonathon Piatt.
EMS Excellence Medal: This award is presented to a paramedic/EMT who, by his/her abilities and skill, under extremely difficult circumstances, and whose action produced a positive outcome for a patient when none seemed probable: Luke Scholl.
Meritorious Service Award: This award is given to a firefighter who in his/her duty performed a notable act of merit in a manner worthy situation: Mark Whiddon, Steve Davis, Vince Tooley, Bradley Burger, Scott Johnston.
Life Saving Medal: This award is presented to those who were principally involved in and whose actions are directly responsible for saving another person’s life: Lonny Britten, Rory Ellison, Michael Lugo, Clay Allison, Jarrett Monscheke and Jo Jackson.
Distinguished Service Medal: This award is presented to a firefighter who performed a highly unusual act of distinction under adverse conditions: Steve Athey.
Rookie of the year: Chris Lillie
Firefighter of the year: Clay Rozell
Fire Officer of the year: David Boots