Herald American Local News

Bellflower honors heroes at BRAVO Awards

BELLFLOWER — Sports announcer Roy Firestone used humor, impersonations, songs and even a hip hop dance in his stint as keynote speaker Feb. 9 as the city honored 25 people for acts of valor and outstanding public-safety-related services at the 23rd annual BRAVO awards program in the William and Jane Bristol Auditorium.

BRAVO stand for Bellflower Recognizes Acts of Valor and Outstanding services.

Firestone, who has interviewed an estimated 5,000 celebrities, showed video of his talks with such people as Shaquille O’Neal, Mike Tyson and the late Muhammad Ali and used their voices for humorous responses.

He also did a hip hop dance using the voice of the late sports announcer Howard Cosell to praise Ali.

But he turned serious at the end, singing a tribute to heroes, first used to honor the first responders after the New York attack Sept. 9, 2011, dedicating it to all public safety personnel and civilians who help law enforcement.

Firestone has won seven Emmy Award and seven ACE Awards as host, interviewer, narrator, writer and producer.

Other major speakers included county Supervisor Janice Hahn, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, county Fire Chief Daryl L. Osby and Chief Buddy Goldman, of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Hahn, making her first formal appearance in Bellflower, said “every day should be about our local heroes. They protect people they don’t even know.”

Lacey also appeared at a public event in Bellflower for the first time.

“With all the bad news we hear about, it’s nice to start the morning with something like this,” Lacey said. She lauded public safety personnel and praised citizens who help protect their neighborhoods.

“With the rise in property crime, we must help each other,” she said.

Goldman praised the bravery of sheriff’s deputies who last June 23 were involved in an eight-hour incident when a driver fled from a police checkpoint, shot two deputies, one who sustained serious injuries, as he fled to a home where he took the resident hostage. Deputies surrounded the home, evacuated the neighborhood and used tear gas to make the suspect surrender. The resident was not injured.

“There is nothing more noble than to serve others,” Osby said.

Also speaking were Bellflower Mayor Dan Koops, Mayor Pro Tem Ron Schnablegger and Councilmen Sonny Santa Ines, Juan Garza and Ray Dunton.

“We are so proud of our public safety personnel who work hard every day to keep our community safe,” Koops said, adding that Bellflower has one of the lowest crime rates in the area.

Dunton praised the civilians, who he noted “were not afraid to get involved. They stepped up and put their lives on the line.”

Awards went to 13 members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, six members of the Los Angeles County Fire Department and individuals including C.J. Nord, who was named Neighborhood Watch Captain of the Year. She represents and makes personal contact with 400 of her neighbors, hosting quarterly parties to get them together, officials said.

Other civilian recipients were Jerry Sweet, Judy Cooper, Linda and Dean Briscoe and Tiara Gose.

Also honored were Yvette Valtierra of Bellfllower High School and Mayfair High student Zechariah Long, winners of a Student Essay contest regarding public safety.

Sheriff’s Department honorees included Sgts. Oscar Butao and Bryan Shirkel, Lt. Timothy B. Milliman and Deputies Michael Abbot, Christopher Allende, Lawrence Cervantes, James Colbert, Eric Saavedra, Ayub Manjra, Randolph Myers, Morgan Nyberg, Laila Razo and Chad Vanden Berg.

Allende and Vanden Berg were wounded during the incident described by Goldman.

Allende was shot in the wrist, Vanden Berg in the collarbone. He underwent 12 hours of operations but has since recovered.

The deputies were honored for displaying great bravery in the face of immediate life-threatening danger, with complete disregard for their own personal safety in orderto aide their partners and protect residents in the surrounding neighborhood.

Honored from the Los Angeles County Fire Department were Capt. Kevin Lalor, Firefighter Specialist Ted Borges, Firefighter Paramedics Troy Boocok, Adam Knutson and Ron Castro and Firefighter Dispatcher II Jonathon Plasencia.

On Nov. 30, the Los Angeles County Fire Department received a 911 call. Fire Dispatcher Plasencia spoke to a family member on the phone who initially thought someone was having a seizure because she had collapsed.

He continued to assess the situation and determined that the medical emergency had become a cardiac arrest. He dispatched Paramedic Squad 98 to the home and proceeded to guide the family through performing cardio-pulmonary resuscitation until paramedics arrived.

Capt. Lalor, Borges and Castro took over the CPR while Boocock and Knutson placed defibrillation pads on the patient’s chest to deliver external electric shocks to attempt to restart her heart.

Boocock utilized a newly approved technique, which involves drilling a small hole in the patient’s bone to deliver vital medications and fluids, the fire report stated.

After 23 minutes of CPR, administering IV fluids, medications and defibrillation, the patient regained a pulse and spontaneous breathing and was transported to a local hospital where she remained in stable condition and was eventually released to go home, the report stated.

On the afternoon of Nov. 17, Gose, a 25-year resident of Bellflower, was on duty as a recreation leader at Thompson Park. Ten minutes into her shift, she was notified by a park patron that a man collapsed in the game room while playing table tennis.

Gose responded and found a co-worker on the phone with a 911 operator while a 61-year old man was on the floor unconscious and starting to turn blue.

She quickly began performing CPR while complying with the 911 operator’s instructions. She continued to perform CPR until paramedics arrived and after about 10 minutes, they were able to stabilize the man and transport him to a nearby hospital for further treatment, officials said.

Gose has worked for the Parks and Recreation Department for seven years. As part of her training, she receives CPR and first aid certification every two years, but chooses to participate in the training annually so she feels confident responding if an incident were to occur, officials said.

She is a graduate of Bellflower High School and Cal State Long Beach where she earned a degree in business management. Gose currently attends Whittier Law School where she is pursuing a law degree.

Bellflower residents Jerry Sweet, Judy Cooper and Linda and Dean Briscoe were honored for working with law enforcement to counter illegal activities in a home owned by an elderly woman, 89, who had been in a rehabilitation facility for some time.

“A family member began living in a trailer adjacent to her home and eventually inhabited the garage and house, all in violation of city ordinances, according to a city statement. “The house did not have utilities or running water for over two and a half years and more than 15 adult parolees were living on the premises.”

“These neighbors took action and got involved, which made it possible for law enforcement to take action and conserve limited resources. Although they feared for their safety, they are very courageous citizens and deserve recognition. They are prime examples of the positive outcome that can occur when law enforcement and property owners work together to improve a neighborhood,” the city statement said.