Alexandria, VA – As the disruption and grief of the pandemic seem to be in retreat and ordinary citizens are resuming, or restarting, “normal” lives, the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce and the Zebra Press take this time to honor Alexandria’s first responders. These men and women are regular people, like you and me, but they could not and did not retreat from their duty to care for city residents facing harm and needing help. They carried on with dedication, loyalty, and courage. We are here to say, “Thank you.”
The following are some of the police, fire, and sheriff’s personnel whose actions saved lives, kept others safe, and restored calm to the community. As always, they were chosen by their peers. The Chamber and Zebra applaud these heroes who share our everyday lives.
- Sheriff – 10/10/2021
Deputy DeVon Carney and Deputy Nazirullah Qazei will receive Life Saving Awards
Deputy DeVon Carney was conducting security rounds in the booking area of the Adult Detention Center when he recognized a suicide in progress. Deputies Carney & Qazei entered the cell and began rendering first aid as medical staff were called. Deputies were able to perform measures until nurses arrived to transport the patient to the hospital.
- Sheriff – 2/28/2021
Deputy Breaunda Hatfield will receive a Life Saving Award
Deputy Breaunda Hatfield was conducting security rounds when she observed an inmate preparing for suicide. Deputy Hatfield radioed for assistance and instructed the inmate to stop. A team of deputies entered the cell and removed the inmate until medical staff arrived.
- Police – 10/26/2020
Officer Lemar Gardizi, K9 Officer Robert Egan, Canine Crash, and Former Office Jamison Hart will receive Gold Medals.
Officers were dispatched to a hotel for shots fired. Officers responded, set up a perimeter, and discovered a robbery victim at gunpoint. Officer Gardizi spotted two suspects exiting the building. After attempting to stop them, Gardizi gave pursued them through a residential area. One suspect drew a firearm and began firing at Officer Gardizi, who was struck by a round but continued to return fire and move to a safe position. The suspects fled. Officers Robert Egan and Jamison Hart responded to the scene to search for the suspects. Officer Egan’s canine alerted to a suspect hiding in a hedgerow. The hidden suspect began firing, and Officers Egan and Hart returned fire. Officers Gardizi, Egan, and Hart were confronted with an armed suspect who engaged in deadly force again uniformed police officers. The involved officers will receive Gold Medals for their response.
- Police – 11/19/2021
Officer Charles Gardiner will receive a Life Saving Award.
While on a routine patrol, Officer Gardiner was flagged down to assist with a baby in respiratory distress. Officer Gardiner requested assistance and observed the 10-month-old infant had stopped breathing. Officer Gardiner instructed the child’s father to get into Gardiner’s cruiser and began transport to the hospital. While driving, Officer Gardiner provided the father with CPR instructions. At the hospital, medical staff was waiting to take over care. The baby ultimately survived what had been the result of an accidental fall.
- Police – Lifetime Commitment
Sergeant Charlette Mitchell will receive a posthumous Lifetime Commitment Award.
During Sergeant Charlette Mitchell’s exemplary 30+ year career with the Alexandria Police Department, she consistently focused on bettering the community. In addition to her various duties, she founded the Angels Camp, a mentoring program for young girls. As Aide to the Chief of Police under four Department heads, she served as APD’s lead for The Chamber ALX’s Valor Awards. Her support was instrumental in honoring her fellow officers. The Chamber ALX is humbled by her commitment to the department and Alexandria.
- Fire – 6/22/21
Firefighter/EMT Mark Cox will receive a Gold Medal
Firefighter Xavier Velez & Captain Jeffrey Taylor will receive Silver Medals
Captain Joshua Turner, Firefighter/EMT Darren Hayes, Firefighter Antoine Johnson, Battalion Chief Gregory Cook, Lieutenant Erin Mustian, Lieutenant Justin Bullis, Firefighter/EMT Thomas Robinson III, Firefighter/EMT Ben Garcia, Firefighter/Paramedic Douglas Wiltsie, Firefighter/EMT Joseph White, Firefighter/EMT Antonio Tizol, Lieutenant Henry Cook, Firefighter/EMT Brett Shamelffer, Firefighter/Paramedic Keith Tapscott, Firefighter/EMT Shavarez Washington, Firefighter/EMT Michael Chandler, Firefighter/EMT Cody Hepner, Paramedic Caitlin Neill, Firefighter/EMT Travis Post will receive Life Saving Awards
The Alexandria Fire Department responded to reports of a female attempting to jump off the Monroe Avenue Bridge. First responders observed that she was struggling on the opposite side of a 4-foot barrier, pedestrian walkway, and secondary 9-foot security fence. She was previously perched 60-feet over the railway tracks. Command requested an inflatable air cushion and shut down vehicle and railway traffic in both directions. Alexandria Police worked to talk the woman down from the ledge.
During this activity, both departments developed a rescue plan for the Fire Department to traverse the perimeter fence. Departments would position the cushion below the ledge and prepare a ladder truck.
Command shared that the female had no desire to retreat voluntarily. A heavy downpour began, which raised concerns that she might slip unintentionally. After 45 minutes of negotiating, the rescue plan was enacted. Fire personnel traversed the security fence and approached the female, who tried to evade them, but she was secured in the ladder truck and transported for a mental evaluation.
Firefighter Cox knowingly placed himself at risk of death when traversing the 9ft security fence. After lowering the female into the bucket, he continued to render aid until care could be turned over to medical personnel.
Firefighter Velez and Captain Taylor were assigned to assist in securing the jumper to the security fence from the pedestrian pathway side of the bridge. Both temporarily secured the jumper until Firefighter Cox could access her. They did so at significant personal risk.
The remaining team served with Incident Command, Technical Rescue, Tower Ladder, Train Recon, Inflatable Air Cushion, and Patient EMS Care. All had integral roles in implementing this coordinated plan and the successful rescue.
- Fire – 11/23-24/21
EMS Lieutenant Jeffrey Prodoehl, Captain Jeffrey Taylor, EMS Captain Jeffrey Woolsey, EMS Captain Raymond C. Whatley Jr., EMS Lieutenant David Fox, and Firefighter/Paramedic Tyler Fredericks will receive Certificates of Valor
Alexandria Fire Department deployed four tactical paramedics to assist the Special Operations Team with a subject barricaded in a residence. Although these paramedics receive ballistic protection and equipment, they are unarmed. Due to their specialized training, they are placed with officers to render emergency medical care in hostile environments. EMS Captains Woolsey & Whatley, EMS Lieutenant Prodoehl, and Captain Taylor arrived on scene in armored vehicles and a police cruiser. A suspect began to shoot at the armored vehicles striking one that had two Fire Department personnel inside. EMS Lieutenant Fox and Firefighter Fredericks arrived on scene as the incident entered day two. While paramedics are trained for the situation, they are not often fired upon.
- Fire – 1/5/2021
Firefighter/EMT Cody Acker, Retired Firefighter/EMT Michael Ambrose, Firefighter/Paramedic Fiera Givens, EMS Lieutenant Elizabeth Honaker, and Firefighter/Paramedic Alexander Lee will receive Life Saving Awards
Alexandria Fire Department responded to a vehicle collision where a male patient was stuck between two vehicles. Responders began administering medical aid, which was made difficult because the driver of one vehicle was standing over the injured patient. Responders physically removed the driver and began to control the patient’s spine movement and place tourniquets. Once bleeding was controlled, a collar was put in place, and the patient was placed on a stretcher. The medic unit provided additional aid and began transport to the hospital, where a doctor was waiting to assume care. Responding personnel remained calm throughout the chaos, administered aid, and began transport within 10 minutes, especially significant because two team members were rookies and interns. The patient survived and maintains correspondence with the responding crew. The hospital doctor, surgeon, and Trauma Chief commended the in-field tourniquets. The hospital team noted that quality care begins in the field and this case was an excellent example.