Sports & Fitness

Public Safety Heroes

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

Rest Easy Knowing You#re Well-Protected in Gwinnett
They are the public safety heroes of Gwinnett.

The Gwinnett County Department of Fire and Emergency Services and the Department of Police are the often overlooked, unsung heroes. We rely on their services to keep us safe, keep our county safe and respond to our most urgent needs. However, dealing with our greatest fears is just all in a day#s work for them.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services has nearly 600 employees with more than 43,000 annual fire and emergency incident calls. The police department has an authorized strength of 486 sworn officers supported by 230 non-sworn employees. Amazing acts of courage, loyalty and bravery take place every day, and here are just a few stories of the heroes who have been recognized for their service to the community.

On December 10, 2002, firefighter J.T. Wood started his regular shift just like any other day. But before too many hours passed, mayhem seemed to have struck Gwinnett County.

He responded to a Code 8 (person trapped), and was instrumental in extracting the victim from a rollup door. Later, on the same shift, Wood responded to a vehicle accident where he removed a critically injured passenger from a car. Early the following morning, he responded to a residential fire and, with his team, successfully extinguished the single-family home.

Image if this was a typical day at your office! He was honored this year by the department with the Distinguished Service Award.

While individual performance is utterly important, teamwork plays an integral role in the success of many responses. Last May, the teams of Engine 20, Rescue 20 and Squad 20 responded to a vehicle accident where the occupants were trapped. One of the victims had a massive head injury. The Engine and Rescue crew performed patient care through the window of the car while other crew members began extracting individuals. They were finally able to remove the roof of the car to gain adequate access to the patient. Amazingly, the team members were able to perform these life-saving procedures in only 10 minutes. The crew includes: Phillip Allison, Steve B. Brown, David Carr, Michael J. Etheridge, Don Kirkpatrick, Lamar Mitchell, John Poe, Walker Waddy and John Welborn.

Teamwork also plays an integral role in the Police Department#s success. Last April, three officers responded to an accident where a small vehicle had become partially submerged in water, and the engine was engulfed in flames.

Working together, Officers M. Bongiovanni, J.M. Johnston and J. Teague extinguished the fire and pulled the semi-conscious driver from the vehicle. For their heroism, the officers received the Distinguished Service Medal and Life Saving ribbon from the department.

Along with the life-saving measures of the police, keeping our community safe from crime to a top priority.

Last summer, Detective J.D. Smith was assigned to investigate a robbery-homicide. Within a month, a similar event occurred again. Working nearly non-stop for several days, Detective Smith held numerous interviews, conducted surveillance operations and issued the appropriate warrants to recover evidence. Within just a week, four suspects were taken into custody and charged with the robbery/murders at both locations.

The result of these arrests had a trickle-down affect, and four additional armed robberies were cleared. Interviews with these defendants resulted in the clearing of nearly 10 armed robbers and a homicide in DeKalb County.

For his dedication and success on the case, Detective Smith was named Officer of the Year in 2002.

Thank you to all of the public safety heroes in Gwinnett. We honor and applaud your service to the community and to our well-being.