Alexandria, VA – We are passing through difficult times. From early last year to today, we have lived through a period fraught with uncertainty, restriction, and fear. As the pandemic took society’s center stage, the hardships faced daily by individual residents continued and, in many cases, intensified. But despite our personal difficulties, the medical, financial, and family crises we faced, we knew that our first responders stood firm here in Alexandria. In the midst of chaos, they kept calm and carried on with dedication, loyalty, and courage.
Each year, the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce and the Zebra Press takes a moment to honor some of the police, fire, and sheriff’s personnel whose actions saved lives, kept others safe, and restored calm to the community. As always, these heroes were chosen by their peers. The Chamber and Zebra applaud these heroes who share our everyday lives.
1. Department of Emergency & Customer Communication – September 21, 2020
Public Safety Communications Officer Emerita Valentin received a call reporting a trafficking and hostage situation in Puerto Rico. The caller was passed around jurisdictions that could not assist until they were directed to the Alexandria non-emergency number. Officer Valentin was able to make direct contact with the hostage. While the hostage understood English, they responded in French so as not to alert the suspect.
Working with a translator, Valentin was able to determine the location of the hostage. Supervisor Teresa Smith contacted Puerto Rican police to request a response. Supervisor Smith and Officer Valentin worked with the hostage and police for nearly two hours, resulting in a hostage rescue.
Public Safety Officer Emerita Valentin and Supervisor Teresa Smith are to receive Life Saving Awards.
2. Department of Emergency & Customer Communication – Posthumously
Systems Administrator Robert Bloom is being recognized for his oversight of many DECC technical projects. These projects include a shared 911 telephone system with Arlington County, the first of its kind in our region. He was instrumental in developing, designing, and implementing remote 911 and 311 call taking throughout the pandemic. He has been touted as the “brainchild” of these crucial services. Administrator Bloom passed unexpectedly in July 2020; however, his efforts continue to influence responses within the region.
Systems Administrator Robert Bloom is to receive a posthumous Certificate of Valor.
3. Police & Sheriff Departments – June 5, 2020
Officers responded to a domestic violence call in the morning hours. When Officers Elijah Hearin and William Griscom and Master Deputy Joseph Runquist arrived, they heard yelling and a sounding smoke detector. Although the door was barricaded, officers were able to unlock and open the door.
At that time, gunshots coming from inside began penetrating the walls into the hallway. Faced with gunfire, officers retreated down the hallway and held their position. The Alexandria Special Operations team was mobilized and formulated a hostage rescue plan to make entry, stop the threat, and rescue anyone inside.
The hostage rescue was disrupted by additional gunshots and an impenetrable door barricaded by the suspect. Faced with these obstacles, Lieutenant Delton Goodrum declared a barricade and evacuated all surrounding apartments. After a 10-hour standoff, they requested relief from the Fairfax County Police Department, who sent their SWAT team and Crisis Negotiator Teams to relieve the Alexandria units.
Fairfax County Police used a robot to enter the apartment. Once they could clear the doorway, they determined it was safe to enter. Officers were able to enter the apartment, free the hostage, secure the weapon, and take the suspect into custody.
Lieutenant Delton Goodrum, Sergeants Ryan Waple, Patricio Alvarez, and William Taylor, Officers Robert Egan, Sean Gallagher, Alex Shin, David Daniels, Elijah Hearin, William Griscom, and Wesley Vitale, Detective Reid Hudson, Master Deputy Joseph Runquist, and Fairfax County Captain Lance Schaible are to receive Silver Medals.
4. Police Department – June 20, 2020
In the early morning hours, Detective Darryl Ferrer observed a traffic accident on Telegraph Road and notified dispatch of the crash. He approached the scene and encountered a severely injured man. Investigator Sara Thomas arrived on scene and began providing medical aid. Detective Ferrer and Investigator Thomas went above and beyond to provide medical care, administering multiple medical tactics.
Detective Darryl Ferrer and Investigator Sara Thomas are to receive Life Saving Awards.
5. Police Department – July 11, 2020
Just after midnight, officers were dispatched for reports of gunfire. Officer Jonathan Isaacs arrived on scene and encountered an armed suspect. Officer Isaacs instructed the suspect to stop, but the subject ignored commands and walked away. Officer Issacs broadcast his location and called for backup. The suspect turned to conceal, manipulate, and hide the handgun in their waistline. Additional responding officers arrived and blocked the suspect in an alley. The subject went behind a house, hid in a bush, and walked by a blocked fence. Eventually, the suspect surrendered and was placed in handcuffs without incident. Officer Isaacs went to the bush and located the firearm. It was later determined the suspect was under the influence of drugs and could not comply with commands.
Officer Jonathan Isaacs placed himself in harm’s way and could have sustained severe bodily harm. He is to receive a Silver Medal.
6. Fire Department – January 6, 2020
Engines arrived on scene in response to a motor vehicle collision. Patients with serious injuries were identified and the call was upgraded to a struck pedestrian. Additional medical support was called; teams worked to provide treatment and secure the scene. Medical treatment was administered, and they prepared to move a patient.
Units discovered the driver had “passed out” and “come to” before responders’ arrivals, so a second medical response was called. Crews transported the first patient to the hospital. Others remained on scene to oversee vehicle fluids, check for ID, provide updates, and await the second medic unit.
From the time of arrival, it only took 60 seconds to locate the pedestrian and begin a tourniquet. Crews worked effectively to move one patient, place IVs, assess the scene, provide medicine, and begin transport in just four minutes.
Firefighters Nathanial McKee, Caleb Hann, De’Angelo Bowman, Paramedics Keith Tapscott, Remi Howell, and Howard Weinstein, and Captains Megan Ellzy and Richard Krimmer are to receive Life Saving Awards.
7. Fire Department – February 19, 2020
Units arrived on scene in response to a motor vehicle accident. The patient was reportedly driving under the influence and speeding in rainy conditions. The car slid sideways and wrapped around a telephone pole. The force of the collision trapped the patient in the vehicle.
Firefighters donned extrication PPE and began rendering patient care through a small opening on the passenger side. The patient was struggling to breathe and had sustained severe injuries. Firefighters Edward Freeman and Daniel Hunt began stabilizing the vehicle while Firefighter Durant Cephers prepared tools to cut the car open. The extraction was complex due to placement and compression. To reach the patient, the team created a larger opening on the passenger side.
Once inside the car, Firefighter/Paramedic Fiera Givens was able to access the patient. Team members continued working to move the passenger side, roof, and dash off the patient. Despite providing treatment under tight conditions and simultaneously operating extraction tools, arrival time to patient transport took just 30 minutes. While en route, medics performed lifesaving interventions. After several weeks the patient is alive and living a normal life.
Paramedic Timothy Jaffrey, Firefighters Fiera Givens, Duran Cephers, Edward Freeman and Daniel Hunt, and Captain Joshua Turner are to receive Life Saving Awards.
8. Fire Department – September 11, 2020
Engines were dispatched for a female preparing to jump from the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Prior to arrival, a bystander held the jumper in place. Fire units assessed the scene and took action to secure the victim from falling. Teams first assembled a dual rope rescue system designed to secure the jumper and lower her to rescue boats below.
In just under four minutes, a rescuer attached a rope system over the rail and was lowered to the agitated and uncooperative individual. The team then decided to use a second safety harness to pull her back up to the bridge ledge and over the rail. Topside crews pulled the jumper back onto the walking path. The victim sustained no injuries, and the operation was completed in 15 minutes.
Lieutenant Anthony Small, Firefighters Michael Ware, Darren Hayes, Moriah Anderson, Karl Kappelman, Brett Shamleffer, Jason Sharpe, and Captain Wells Wilson are to receive Life Saving Awards.
9. Sheriff’s Office – August 28, 2020
Deputy Sheriff Sean Williams was moving inmates between cells when he discovered a suicide in progress. Deputy Williams called for assistance and entered the cell. The inmate admitted this was the second attempt before Deputy Williams had intervened.
Deputy Sean Williams is to receive a Life Saving Award.
10. Sheriff’s Office – Dana Lawhorne
The Alexandria Chamber of Commerce will bestow a Lifetime Valor Award on Sheriff Dana Lawhorne to honor his 43 years of law enforcement service, including 16 years as Alexandria Sheriff.
Sheriff Dana Lawhorne– Lifetime Valor Award