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Rotarians honor Boulder City’s first responders

On Tuesday evening, nine members of the Boulder City police and fire departments were honored by the city’s two Rotary clubs as part of their Service Officer Award Recognition program, which fetes first responders who are “everyday heroes.”

Amy Vandermark, president of the Rotary Club of Boulder City for their 2023 year, made the presentations.

The awards were actually originally announced at a ceremony at Las Vegas City Hall on Sept. 13 honoring first responders from across the greater metropolitan area. However, members of the Boulder City departments were reportedly not able to be at that event and so a separate presentation was scheduled in their hometown, according to Jordana Lane, president of the SOAR committee, which is made up of all the Rotary clubs of Southern Nevada.

Fire Department

Honorees: Capt. Nigel Walton, Capt Josh Barrone, Engineer Mike Gabiolla, Firefighter/Paramedic Harold Hadley, Firefighter/Paramedic Robert Acevedo, Firefighter/Paramedic Ryan Spradling and Firefighter Sarah Mitre

“On Nov. 3, 2021, Boulder City Fire Department responded to a cardiac arrest at the Hoover Dam parking lot of the bypass bridge,” Vandermark said. “On arrival, crews found a 54-year-old male tour bus driver with CPR being performed by security personnel. Initial assessment showed that the patient was in full cardiac arrest. The Boulder City Fire Department team quickly began treatment and was able to obtain vital signs prior to the arrival of Mercy Air. Four days later, the department was notified that the patient was moved from ICU to rehab and eventually discharged from the medical facility. The actions of these Boulder City Fire Department personnel showed their commitment to the citizens and visitors to Boulder City and the Hoover Dam area to ensure the most effective and efficient fire rescue and emergency services possible. Thank you for your service every day.”

As the firefighters made their way to the front of the room, Mayor Joe Hardy asked, “Are we allowed to clap?” They were and they did.

Police Department

Honorees: Officer Brandon Blake, Officer Brian Eby

“On Jan. 12, 2023, Melissa Findley, a citizen of Las Vegas, who has a severe allergy, and her husband, Steve, met in Searchlight for a breakfast meeting,” Vandermark reported. “They had breakfast and then left the restaurant en route back to Las Vegas. About three minutes into the drive, Melissa started to have a coughing attack which is normally the start of a violent allergic reaction that has, in the past, led to her being intubated. Steve continued to drive toward Las Vegas but stopped about three minutes later as her breathing became increasingly labored. Steve contacted 911 and asked for an ambulance to meet them along the way but felt that pulling over to wait for one wasn’t an option. They continued for another five minutes and her breathing continued to get significantly worse. They continued to travel at a very high rate of speed and made the decision to head toward Boulder City Hospital as it was the closest emergency room by seven minutes. After turning off the 95 and onto Boulder City Parkway, they found two officers stopped in the center median. Melissa’s husband, who was frantic, told officers that Melissa was in anaphylactic shock and could barely breathe. Officers then made the split-second decision to not wait for an ambulance but to provide Melissa and her husband with an emergency escort to the hospital. ”

Upon arrival, she was sedated and put on a ventilator and was in ICU for three days. The couple were said to believe that the quick thinking of the officers saved her life.

They were presented with a “traveling trophy” that will remain with the fire department until the next SOAR awards are given out in 2024. The departments also got a plaque and each department member honored got a certificate.

According to the program’s website, the Rotary program SOAR was created to honor the ordinary officer who day in and day out, performs his or her job in an outstanding manner. He or she is not necessarily a “hero” in the standard sense of the word; rather, a person who is a “quiet hero” and does an excellent job at what he or she was hired to do. “They guard and protect the rights and responsibilities of the citizenry of their community.”

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