KAWARTHA LAKES-A City of Kawartha Lakes paramedic is one of ten who will receive the inaugural Ontario Medal for Paramedic Bravery
On October 20, 2021, off-duty Advanced Care Paramedic Beatrice Frasca was enjoying a hike with her friends at Bruce Peninsula National Park when she noticed a group of men preparing to cliff jump from the Grotto into the water below. Cliff diving can be dangerous even in ideal weather conditions but the water currents that day were strong and cold enough to induce sudden shock.
Despite Paramedic Frasca’s shouted warnings, the men jumped anyway. Two emerged but one was unresponsive. Risking their own safety, Paramedic Frasca and a friend quickly climbed down the steep and slippery cliff edge to rescue the unconscious man. They dragged him back to the shore and Paramedic Frasca provided care until emergency services arrived. Despite their brave efforts, the man did not survive, but their quick actions were able to assist the other jumpers who were suffering from cold exposure.
The Honorable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, and Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, will present medals to Frasca and nine other paramedics in a ceremony at Queen’s Park this evening. This is the first year paramedics in Ontario will be honoured by the province with a medal for their actions.
“As Lieutenant Governor, I have witnessed first-hand the remarkable selflessness and bravery of first-responders,” said the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell. “While it is often said we live in an uncertain time, few Ontarians actually experience uncertainty in their everyday working lives in quite the way that paramedics do. Before their shifts begin, they don’t know where they will be dispatched, under what circumstances, or how they will be asked to help. On behalf of a very grateful province, I thank this year’s exceptional award recipients for their commitment, their incredible courage, and their dedicated service.”
Recipients are recognized for their individual acts of outstanding bravery, including moving a crashed plane to save passengers inside, diving to the bottom of Lake Ontario to rescue a drowned man, grabbing hold of a suicidal man on a highway ledge, swimming an unconscious cliff diver to safety, saving other first responders during a gas line explosion, and rescuing workers from a collapsed building.
“As we celebrate Paramedic Services Week, I am honoured to recognize the first Ontario Medal for Paramedic Bravery recipients for their courage protecting the people of this province in the face of grave risk and danger,” said Minister Jones. “Day in and day out, first responders put their duty to Ontarians and service first. These paramedics represent the very best of Ontario and our government is proud to recognize their significant contributions to keeping communities safe.”
The Ontario Medal for Paramedic Bravery honours paramedics who have performed an act of exceptional courage. The medal is given to paramedics who have demonstrated great bravery without concern for their personal safety, risking their lives to save others. This is the first year paramedics will receive an Ontario honour medal for their actions.
The remaining recipients are
Paramedic Kimberley Fitzsimmons – Frontenac Paramedic Services
On August 2, 2022, while off-duty, Primary Care Paramedic Kimberley Fitzsimmons was toweling off after a swim in Lake Ontario when she spotted a man thrashing and then submerging into the water. Paramedic Fitzsimmons immediately dove into the water to rescue the man, who had sunk 15 feet to the bottom of the lake. After surfacing with the unconscious man, Paramedic Fitzsimmons swam them both to a nearby beach. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and without any PPE, she immediately began performing life-saving measures. She continued CPR until first responders arrived and took the man to hospital. Even while off-duty, Paramedic Fitzsimmons put herself in harm’s way to save a stranger’s life.
Paramedic Steven Kawamura – Hamilton Paramedic Services
While responding to a call on October 9, 2021, Advanced Care Paramedic Steve Kawamura encountered a suicidal man yelling and running towards the ledge of a highway overpass. Sprinting to the man, Paramedic Kawamura was able to grab the man’s leg just as he launched himself over the barricade. Even after pulling the man back to safety, the man responded with physical violence in his distressed state. Paramedic Kawamura and his partner were able to restrain the man until police arrived. Understanding the urgency of the situation, Paramedic Kawamura intervened just in time to save the man’s life
Paramedics Philip Adams and David Jeffries – Middlesex-London Paramedic Service
On the night of August 14, 2019, Paramedics Philip Adams and David Jeffries responded to a call after a vehicle crashed into a home. At the scene, a damaged gas line quickly ignited causing a massive explosion, destroying several homes and injuring almost everyone present. Despite the fiery, debris-filled scene, Paramedics Adams and Jeffries stayed cool under pressure to triage, treat, and transport the police and fire personnel injured from the blast. As a result of their heroic actions, all six first responders and one civilian received medical attention for their injuries and survived.
Deputy Chief Adam Bennett, Paramedic Josh Hill and Superintendent Michael Hurst – Middlesex-London Paramedic Service
On December 11, 2020, Deputy Chief Adam Bennett, Advanced Care Paramedic Josh Hill and Operations Superintendent Michael Hurst responded to the partial collapse of an under-construction residential building. At the scene, several construction workers were trapped under rubble, while others were covered in wet cement. Despite the risk of the building further collapsing, the three paramedics entered the area without hesitation. Deputy Chief Bennett and Superintendent Hurst assessed the trapped workers and coordinated their extraction and transportation, where possible. Paramedic Hill tried to stabilize another worker who had been trapped under rubble for several hours, helping to extricate and care for him during transport to the hospital. Tragically, one worker died while still trapped and another died shortly after, but because of their courageous efforts, five workers were safely rescued.
Paramedics Stephen Welsh and Maciej Wisniewski – Ottawa Paramedic Services
On September 4, 2021, Primary Care Paramedics Stephen Welsh and Maciej Wisniewski were called to the scene after a passenger plane collided with a hydroelectric pole and crash-landed in a nearby field. The plane landed upside-down with a ruptured fuel tank, leading to bush fires in the surrounding area. The two passengers on the plane, soaked in fuel and suffering extensive injuries, were trapped inside the aircraft as the fires quickly approached.
With resourcefulness and quick thinking, Paramedics Welsh and Wisniewski recruited bystanders and a police officer at the scene to help rotate the plane into an upright position. The paramedics were able to extract the two passengers while Ottawa Fire Department contained the fire.
The passengers were transported to hospital and treated for their injuries. A tragic situation was avoided because of Paramedic Welsh and Wisniewski’s timely and courageous actions.