Stories shared, heroes honored

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Several people in our community are alive thanks to the quick actions of firefighters, police officers, and everyday people. Tuesday, the Fresno Fire Department came together to recognize these heroes.

A call for Fresno firefighters was emotionally charged on March 30th. This was Just one day after Fire Captain Pete Dern fell through a burning building and was seriously hurt, firefighters found themselves heading into another building on fire to find someone trapped inside. "The amount of fire that was in the house, the chance of someone surviving was pretty slim, but, we went to the portion of the house that was not on fire and did a search," said Justin McDonald, Fresno Fire Captain.

McDonald and fellow firefighters found an 85-year-old woman, not breathing, and rescued her from the home.

On Tuesday, he was awarded the lifesaving medal, along with firefighters Dennis Barnhart and Brandon Griffith in front of friends and family members. "We still had to respond and do our job no matter what. Even though emotions were high. There was a lot of adrenaline, but when the call for action comes we have to still do the same thing," McDonald explained.

At the firefighter ceremony, heroic stories were shared when firefighters, officers, and civilians went the extra mile.

In May, three Fresno police officers found themselves responding to a house on fire with a wheelchair-bound person inside. "Because every time we went inside we would be suffocated by the smoke-- we finally managed to get inside. Once we heard a voice inside, we weren't able to tell where it was coming from," said Diana Trueba, Fresno Police Sergeant.

The officers were able to rescue the man and months later, Sergeant Trueba and officers Sean Cowart and Jeremy Demoss, were recognized with a civilian commendation. "It feels amazing to be honored for this. It's a very humbling experience," said Sergeant Trueba.

But they weren't the only ones who acted when no one was looking. In July, one military member went from eyewitness to lifeguard, rescuing a man from a canal. "I got to the water's edge, I looked to see if anybody else was going to intervene, and that wasn't the case, so I jumped into the water and did what was necessary," explained Jeffrey Ginther, U.S. Air Force Sr. Master Sergeant.

That action saved a 19-year-old man.

While each story shared was unique, they're all bound by bravery and service above self.
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