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Chamber honors dozens at annual Valor Awards

Loudoun County Fire Deputy Chief Howard Dawley, in white, received a Lifesaving Award, and private nurse Lauren Bland received a Civilian Valor Award from Leesburg Chief of Police Joseph Price and Chief W. Keith Brower, Loudoun County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management, at the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce-sponsored 29th annual Valor Awards ceremony April 4 at the National Conference Center in Leesburg. —Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Rick Wasser
Standing onstage to a thunderous round of applause, Emily Rothermel, a smiling blonde toddler, fiddled with a cellphone as her parents Nelson and Mariela held her. Flanking the Rothermels stood 10 members of Loudoun County Fire and Rescue. In March 2013, the first responders saved the little girl's life after a choking incident led to cardiac arrest.

“We are definitely grateful,” Mariela Rothermel said. “Knowing they've been recognized is nice.”

“There was a lot of teamwork involved,” Nelson said, adding that not only did first responders help save his daughter, but Inova Hospital staff and rehab therapists.

The 10 men were just a handful of those honored at the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce's 29th annual Valor Awards. Held April 4 at the National Conference Center in Lansdowne, the awards honored first responders, both police and fire and rescue, as well as ordinary citizens, for their judgment or risk to protect the community.

Loudoun County Sheriff Michael Chapman, Leesburg Police Chief Joseph Price and Loudoun County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management Chief Keith Brower were joined by Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tony Howard on stage to present awards. In total, 84 people received accolades, including 20 who received Civilian Valor Awards.

Leesburg resident Gerry Earl was one of the 20 civilians to receive an award. At 1:30 in the morning, Earl was sitting in her apartment on Evans Ridge Terrace when she heard screams for help. Looking outside, she saw a man bloodied with multiple stab wounds. She ultimately pulled him inside her home, treating his injuries until first responders arrived.

“I was only doing what anybody else would have done,” said a modest Earl.

Other civilians honored included two teenage lifeguards, Victoria Harvey and Katelynn Price, who saved a 7-year-old that was unconscious and underwater at the Raspberry Falls pool and Kin Lee, who, after receiving instructions from dispatchers, exclaimed “I got this!” before performing CPR for several minutes on a man who had experienced a cardiac event. In two instances, citizens received awards for helping save victims who experienced cardiac events working out at the gym.

Capt. Michael Burrier, firefighter/EMT, Donnie Cline and Lt. Alex Szuchnicki all received Bronze Medals of Valor for saving the life of a man who was stranded on Hibbs Bridge on Snickersville Turnpike after it had flooded on Jan. 13, 2013. After the man's Jeep had been swept away, he found refuge on on a U.S. Geological Survey water platform. The crew thought they were battling flood waters to recover a body, but after finding the victim were able to pull him into their boat.

LCSO Deputy First Class John McClintic received a Certificate of Valor for using a restaurant receipt located in a victim's wallet to determine when he had a stroke, allowing medical personnel to administer the correct treatment.

Two men, firefighter/paramedic Joshua Pebler and technician Zachary Webster received two awards. The first was a Lifesaving Award for finding a man unconscious and stranded after having he had an adverse reaction to peanuts. Pebler and Webster also were part of a second group that received a Lifesaving Award for helping save a man who had a major heart attack.

In all, 51 fire and rescue personnel, 13 police officers and 20 civilians received awards.

All photos by Rick Wasser

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