Redlands Fire Capt. Welsh receives state Life Saving Medal

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From left, Dr. Howard Backer, Director of EMSA, Redlands Fire Capt. Terry Welsh, Steve Drewniany, Deputy Chief, City of Sunnyvale Public Safety Department and Vice Chair of the California Commission on EMS.

Redlands Fire Capt. Terry Welsh received the California Emergency Medical Services Authority’s Life Saving Medal, one of 24 Californians honored this year for their heroic acts and extraordinary contributions to emergency medical services.

Initiated in 2007, the annual California Emergency Medical Services Awards honor and recognize exceptional acts and service by individuals working or volunteering as EMS certified or licensed personnel, administrators, educators, volunteers or civilians within California’s emergency medical system.

“I am pleased to announce a select group of EMS professionals who exhibit excellence and exceptional service,” said Authority Director Howard Backer. “These men and women epitomize the spirit of caring and commitment to quality healthcare that embodies these awards. They deserve official recognition for their contributions in making California’s EMS system one of the best in the world.”

Welsh, while vacationing off-duty in Niles, Mich., returned to his hotel from a morning run with his daughter to find a children’s birthday pool party in peril. The pool heater malfunctioned and emitted between 800 and 1,200 parts per million of carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless, deadly gas. Carbon monoxide is accurately referred to as “the silent killer.”

After reaching out to the police sergeant on scene, Welsh immediately began to triage the children, all of whom were unresponsive. All of the children had been poisoned to the point of vomiting before losing consciousness. One by one, Welsh diligently worked on clearing their airways and turning them on their side. When the Fire Department arrived, he instructed them to place a fan in the doorway of the pool to help ventilate the room and to order five ambulances to transport all the victims. Six children were transported and hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning. One child could not be revived and died at the scene.

Welsh also requested the entire hotel be evacuated as the carbon monoxide could travel through the hotel’s HVAC system and sicken more people. He was officially commended by the local police and fire chiefs.

Capt. Welsh instinctively and without any consideration for his health or safety, risked his own life by stepping into a deadly, mass casualty incident to render assistance to strangers that he had no commitment to aid. This event might have resulted in a far more catastrophic loss of life had it not been for his actions.

Awards were presented during a luncheon ceremony following the regular meeting of the Commission on Emergency Medical Services Dec. 6 at the Marines’ Memorial Club and Hotel in San Francisco.

The award ceremony is generously sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, Hospital Council of Northern and Central California, Medic Ambulance, Bound Tree Medical, California Professional Firefighters, American Medical Response, California Fire Chiefs Association, and California Ambulance Association. The event is held at no cost to the State of California. For additional information about the awards and the ceremony, visit http://www.emsa.ca.gov/awards.

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