Two Muskoka paramedics and two OPP officers were recognized at district council on Nov. 18 for their roles in rescuing a woman and two children from an October house fire.
Paramedics Matt Hickey and Lucas Leggett received the Chief’s Commendation Award while OPP Sergeant Matt Hanes and Provincial Constable Sarah van Norman were presented with Certificates of Appreciation from the district and Muskoka Paramedic Services. The fire started at a home on Stephenson Road 2 West in Huntsville at around 2 a.m. on Oct. 25. Hanes, Norman, Hickey and Leggett arrived on scene first to find a woman and two young children on the second storey porch roof. The fire had started on the first floor, forcing the three occupants to climb out the second storey window.
“[The OPP and paramedics] decided that they couldn’t wait for the fire department, which was only a few minutes behind, but it seems like hours when you’re in a situation like that,” said Stuart McKinnon, deputy chief of Paramedic Services and Emergency Planning for Muskoka.
The front door was locked, so one of the officers broke the window and gained access to the building, McKinnon said. Hickey, Leggett and Norman entered the home and went up to the second storey to lower the children down to Hanes, who was waiting below. The fire department then arrived on scene and helped the paramedics, officer Norman and the woman down on a ladder.
McKinnon said that because paramedics, police officers and firefighters alike don’t usually want to receive recognition, it’s important to honour their team members when they get the chance.
“They want to come to work, do a good job and if they happen to save a life, that’s a bonus, but they don’t tend to take recognition and praise very well,” McKinnon said. “When we can get them in a room like this and actually make them feel good about the great work that they do, it’s really rewarding for the chief and I and the other district staff.”
McKinnon presented the honours alongside Jeff McWilliam, chief of Paramedic Services and Emergency Planning for Muskoka. He hopes that highlighting rescues like this one will help the community recognize the work of all their paramedics.
“The chief and I and the rest of our management team here at Muskoka Paramedic Services are really proud of all of our medics,” McKinnon said. “This is one of those exceptional cases where somebody really puts their life in danger to save a life, but our medics put their lives on the line every day of the week when they’re out there serving the community and we always have to make sure we recognize that fact.”
To learn more about the fire, read our original coverage of the incident here.