County leaders, family members, friends, and co-workers attended the 37th Annual Prince George’s County Valor Awards ceremony on Wednesday at Martin’s Crosswinds in Greenbelt. Over three dozen police officers, firefighters, paramedics, along with other first responders were recognized for their heroic efforts while on duty or off duty and were given gold, silver and bronze medals of valor for their actions […]
County leaders, family members, friends, and co-workers attended the 37th Annual Prince George’s County Valor Awards ceremony on Wednesday at Martin’s Crosswinds in Greenbelt.
Over three dozen police officers, firefighters, paramedics, along with other first responders were recognized for their heroic efforts while on duty or off duty and were given gold, silver and bronze medals of valor for their actions during moments of peril in 2013 .
This year news anchors Jim Vance and Doreen Gentzler of WRC channel 4 were the master of ceremony for the awards ceremony.
One of the highlights of the awards ceremony was the presentation of the Police Officer of the Year Award. Vance told the 600 people in attendance that just before noon on March 18, 2013, Captain John Boesman was driving down Martin Luther King Highway in Landover when he came across a single-vehicle accident. An SUV had overturned and was on fire, with the driver stuck inside. Emergency crews had not yet arrived. Capt. Boesman immediately pulled over and rushed to help. Using his ASP baton he tried to break a window. When that didn’t work, he ran back to his car to get his glass punch. He returned to the burning SUV and feverishly worked to free the driver. The flames continued to spread and were now burning Boesman’s face and hands.
With no regard for his own safety, he continued his efforts to free the victim. Unfortunately, as the fire’s intensity grew, it quickly spread from the back of the SUV into the passenger compartment. Within minutes, the SUV was completely consumed by the flames. Sadly, the driver remained trapped and died at the scene.
Boesman was admitted to the burn unit at Medstar Health’s Washington Hospital Center. He suffered second degree burns to his face, hands and finger tips, as well as smoke inhalation and a deep cut to his palm.
For his unparalleled courage and unhesitating willingness to risk serious injury to rescue a citizen, Capt. Boesman earned a Silver Medal of Valor and was named the Prince George’s County Police Department’s Police Officer of the Year.
Several Prince George’s County firefighters also received Medal of Valor awards who went above and beyond in the line of duty. A Bronze Medal of Valor was given to Volunteer Lieutenant Paul J. McKenny for his action at a College Park house fire.
In the early morning hours of Sunday, November 10, 2013, units from Branchville Volunteer Fire/EMS Station 811 responded for a house fire, with a person reportedly trapped, in the 5200 block of Palco Place in College Park. Engine 811 was the first unit on the scene, with Lt. McKenny as the Officer-in-Charge. He arrived to find heavy fire showing from the second floor and roof of the house. Lt. McKenny and his crew stretched a hose line through the front door, where they encountered high heat and thick smoke. McKenny could see an adult female near the bottom of the interior stairs in obvious distress. Conditions on the first floor were continuing to rapidly deteriorating, with high heat and smoke banking down from the second floor. McKenny instructed his crew to provide hose line protection as he advanced toward the victim and lifted her out of the house and into the care of awaitingEMS personnel. Prior to being transferred to EMS personnel, the woman told McKenny that her husband was still trapped on the second floor.
After notifying all units that an adult male victim was still trapped on the second floor, McKenny rejoined his crew. The hose line was advanced to the second floor to knock down the fire and provide protection for the truck crew that was conducting the search. Sadly, the male victim was pronounced deceased upon being located.
In addition to suffering smoke inhalation, the female patient had sustained thermal burns to her airway. Following several weeks in the hospital, she was released in good condition.
Branchville Volunteer Lt. McKenny’s quick thinking and rapid action on the scene of this incident are attributed with saving the victim’s life.