Fire Department Recognizes Service Of Members During April 9th Ceremony

The Carolina Beach Fire Department held their annual service awards banquet Monday April 9th. (Pictured above: Right to left:) Fire Chief Alan Griffin awarding fire fighters John Bard, Dakota Griffin, Josh Canfield and Ken Athing with the  Meritorious Unit Citation for their efforts at a October 2017 water rescue call. The Carolina Beach Fire Department held their annual service awards banquet Monday April 9th. (Pictured above: Right to left:) Fire Chief Alan Griffin awarding fire fighters John Bard, Dakota Griffin, Josh Canfield and Ken Athing with the Meritorious Unit Citation for their efforts at a October 2017 water rescue call.

Fire Department Recognizes Service Of Members During April 9th Ceremony Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 11 April 2018 15:22

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Fire Department held their annual awards banquet Monday night, April 9th, at the fire station on Dow Road. The department awards firefighters and officers each year for their hard work and service to the community.

Here is a list of awards given during the ceremony:
• Top call runner volunteer: Dakota Griffin
• Top call runner paid: Anders Remahl
• Top training hours volunteer: John Bard
• Top training hours paid: Buddy Thompson
• Rookie of the Year: John Bard
• Fireman of the Year: Dakota Griffin
• Officer of the year: Bill Bernath

Fire Chief Alan Griffin congratulated Ken Athing, Josh Canfield, John Bard, and Dakota Griffin for a Meritorious Unit Citation for their efforts at a October 2017 water rescue call. He also congratulated Josh Canfield for a Distinguished Service Award for his efforts during the same water rescue call.

Griffin explained, "On October 7th  2017 at 3:46 pm, the crew assigned to Engine Company 22 was dispatched to 316 N. Carolina Beach Ave. for a surf rescue and possible drowning. When Engine 22 and squad 21 arrived Capt. Athing and F.F. Bard proceeded to the beach and were immediately met buy the mother yelling and screaming to save her drowning child."

Griffin read a letter submitted by another member of the department when selecting the recipients for the Meritorious Unit Citation and the Distinguished Service Award.

The letter stated, "As we got closer to the surf I realize we had multiple victims in severe distress with high surf and dangerous rip current situation. I immediately told Master F.F. (Firefighter) Josh Canfield and F.F. Dakota Griffin to prepare to launch the jet ski, Master F.F. Canfield took the jet ski and proceeded to rescue the first victim a small child, and successfully return her to the beach. Master F.F. Canfield then went back further out in treacherous sea conditions to get a second male adult victim who was being pulled out by Strong Rip Currents. F.F. Bard went back to squad 21 to retrieve the E.M.S supplies we would need to handle the amount of potential victims we were dealing with."

The letter stated, "While these rescues were being done under severe conditions several swimmers were still entering the waters, this made the situation even more difficult. Capt. Athing was also being told by bystanders there were more victims in the water, at that time we notice what appeared to be 2 victims several 100 ft. out. After the child and father were rescued the jet ski also assisted with pulling 2 would be rescuers back to the beach. The jet ski with F.F. Canfield onboard proceeded to locate and bring the 5th victim back to the beach where F.F. Griffin and Capt. Athing assisted getting them out of the water and immediately began to preform C.P.R. The 6th and final victim was found and placed on a civilian boat, the vessel was boarded by units from county fire who was dispatched to assist. C.P.R. was initiated and the victim was transported to a local boat dock where a EMS unit was standing by to assist."

The letter stated, "This letter is to inform you, Chief Griffin, of the strong professionalism and tremendous courage that the crew from Engine Company 22 exhibited in this rescue. In extremely rough surf conditions and treacherous rip currents and with totally disregard for their own safety, I feel that the crew from Engine 22 went above and beyond their daily training skills and performed the assign task to the best of their ability. The team work display at this major incident significantly went far above the normal emergency operation that we deal day in and day out. Therefore, I would request that the crew of Engine Company 22 be highly considered for a Meritorious Unit Citation."

Griffin said, "It wasn't our normal shift. We had a mixture that day. We had to split up to get the jet ski out there. A lot of things were working against us. A strong rip current." He explained, "That day, a lot of people don't know that I was in training that day. I was at the school. I get the call, I'm trying to get back down here. I'm hearing all kinds of reports. We've got multiple drownings. As a fire chief, I'm going, I hope it's not one of my guys. Because I knew they were out there and I knew what was going on. We got there and I met up with the guys. Canfield had took probably three or four pretty nasty rolls on the jet ski and ended up being out of work for probably two shifts. Basically, when the jet ski rolled, it rolled on him and injured his back. Doctor said just take some days off get the soreness out. So we really dodged a bullet that day, I feel like as a department, because we train and we go out there... we had just went out right after Labor Day and had all the shifts go out and said there's somebody out there, they launch the jet ski, they go and we roll them on the jet ski and bring them in."

Griffin explained, "This particular rescue, I heard counts of up to six people in the water. We were getting a lot of different accounts because people kept going in the water whether it was to help or they were just swimming. We were having firefighters pulling people out of the water. Firefighters in the water, jet skis getting rolled and the first probably ten minutes of this call it was not the way that our training tells us things should go. Our training says we run out put them on a jet ski bring them in and they get to be with their family."

He explained, "This just didn't go the way we wanted it to. For that I agree with the captain's assessment. I totally believe Canfield put everything he had out on the line that day and to do a job, in an ocean like that, could end several different ways. So Canfield, thank you all you do."

During that event, a father and child were rescued. Two good Samaritans identified as Don Boles 60 year old of Eagle Springs, N.C. and James Barbour 53 year old of Clayton, N.C. entered the water in an attempt to save the father and child, but ultimately passed away.

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