SARASOTA -- Southern Manatee Fire Rescue District first-responders were recognized Thursday by the Board of Fire Commissioners for their life-saving efforts.
The short and sweet ceremony at the district administration building, 2451 Trailmate Drive in Sarasota, recognized firefighters and emergency medical technicians who helped saved four people having heart attacks over the past three months. The men received the awards at the beginning of the regular monthly board meeting.
The Phoenix Award recipients are: Todd Pierce, Chris Snider, Lt. Wayne Lambert, Lt. Chad D'agostino, Dustin Daughtrey, Brian Hodges, Dan Reisdorf, Randy Smith, Tony Hauck and Seth Burnett.
"It's a great thing because it's not everyday that you're able to save somebody's life," said Fire Chief Brian Gorski earlier this week.
The first two incidents took place just hours apart April 21.
Surprisingly, the third and fourth incidents also took place on the same day -- June 2.
"Some days you're like that where you get back-to-back calls like that," Gorski said.
According to Gorski, the chances of surviving a cardiac arrest decreases 10 percent with each passing minute without action. Firefighters with the Southern Manatee Fire Rescue District must go through CPR re-certification each year; the process is part lecture and part hands-on training.
"It is a skill that we perform a lot of and we want to be proficient in it," he said.
Randy Smith, who was also honored Thursday for 15 years with department, said he felt "pretty amazing."
"I know it's our job, but to actually save somebody is really the reward," the 46-year-old said.
Smith aided in two of the incidents -- one April 21 and another June 2.
On April 21, Smith and fellow firefighters Tony Hauck and Seth Burnett were dispatched to a stroke call in Sarasota. A man reported his wife was experiencing chest pains. When firefighters arrived, the woman told them she was going to pass out before she collapsed, Smith recalled.
"We knew," he said. "We had to go into CPR right away."
Burnett said the woman's collapse was a bit of a surprise, but was one for which they were trained.
Todd Pierce, 48, helped save a young man at a Walgreen's pharmacy June 2 with two colleagues. He said it's an honor to save someone's life.
"It's incredible," he said. "Between saving a life and delivering babies -- it doesn't get any better than that."
Amaris Castillo, Law Enforcement/Island Reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. You can follow her on Twitter@AmarisCastillo.