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Santa Clara Fire Department’s 2016 Service Awards Ceremony Honors Life Saving Heroes

Santa Clara Fire Department's 2016 Service Awards Ceremony Honors Life Saving Heroes

The local Lions Club prepared a pancake breakfast. Orange juice was poured. Spread out on a table were blue and ivory pins reading “Life Saving.” The Santa Clara Fire Department’s 2016 Service Awards was held on June 23 at the city’s Fire Station No. 2 on Walsh Avenue. Emceeing the event was Fire Chief Bill Kelly while deputy chiefs Augie Wiedemann and J.D. Madden presented peer awards. Police Chief Mike Sellers and City Council members Debi Davis and Patrick Kolstad were also present.

“This service awards ceremony highlights life save that has occurred in the City of Santa Clara,” says Beverly Molina, firefighter and chairperson for the customer project team. “What that means is that every year we have a number of people in the City of Santa Clara whose lives have been saved by a combination of first responders, which includes fire department personnel, police officers, and other citizens and bystanders.”

Those recognized included 40 Santa Clara Fire Department firefighters, four Santa Clara Police Department dispatchers, one police officer and five regular citizens. A few of these “regular citizens” shared their Good Samaritan stories.


Craig Cannon and Anthony Khoury are pool managers and lifeguards at the Santa Clara Senior Center. During the spring, these two San Jose State University students performed CPR and used an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to save a man who had passed out in the locker room.

“Anthony checked his pulse and he noticed there was a faint heart rate,” Cannon says. “We both began compressions and giving breaths to do CPR…We attached the AED pads to the man [and we shocked him]. Then we continued compressions and breaths until emergency personnel arrived. By then, the man was conscious and breathing.”

Another recognized citizen hero was Janet Klemba, an off-duty registered nurse who came to the assistance of an unconscious man at a Buchser Middle School fundraiser.

“One of the performers was on the ground,” Klemba says. “Someone was over him attempting CPR but not doing well. The AED was next to him. I bumped the guy away and started CPR and asked someone to turn on the AED and attach it to the person. Then I shocked the person. I did more CPR and did a couple of breaths and he started spontaneous breathing and had a heartbeat . By then, the paramedics were there and they took over.”

Last summer, Valerie Zamora was visiting her boyfriend’s apartment complex in Santa Clara when she saved a child, who had been taken out of a pool, unconscious.

“They had just taken a three year-old child out of the water,” Zamora says. “I started performing CPR on the child. I did five rounds of CPR with compressions and breaths and then the child started coughing up the water and I turned her over. The fire truck came. I took a CPR class years ago in high school.”

Fire captain Zach McGhie acknowledged another Good Samaritan named Patrick Nice. Nice offered a homeless man some food by setting it on the man’s cart behind Santa Clara’s Smart and Final. When Nice returned to the same spot the following day and found the food untouched, he became rightfully concerned.

“Patrick started banging on the dumpster and heard the guy moan and he knew the guy was in trouble,” McGhie says. “He went inside the dumpster and saw piles of trash. He started throwing the trash out of the dumpster so he could see the guy’s face. When the garbage truck drivers came, Patrick informed them about what was going on. Shortly after that, the police and fire department were called. What was very exceptional was the fact that Patrick looked after the guy, offered him food, checked up on him and stayed in the dumpster until the police and firefighters came. I also think it’s funny that Patrick’s last name is Nice because he’s so nice.”


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