Award ceremony will honor heroes

Clayton County Fire Chief Jeff Hood will honor outstanding personnel and heroes during an annual awards ceremony tonight in Jonesboro.

Among the expected honorees is the crew that brought a woman, who was in full cardiac arrest, back to life, said Battalion Chief Jacque Feilke.

"A 60-year-old woman, who actually died on the way to the hospital, will be there," said Feilke. "She later wrote a three-page letter thanking all the crew who saved her, and also checked on her afterwards. She and her son, who called 911, will be attending the ceremony."

Feilke said two passers-by, who rescued a man from his burning car, will also be recognized, as will police officers, who saved a firefighter from a serious accident.

"One of our firefighters, Manny Gamallo, was almost killed in a car accident on Aug. 31," she said. "His jeep flipped over and landed on him. Three Clayton County police officers lifted the jeep off him."

This is the 11th year that Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services has issued awards of recognition and heroism to its personnel, others in public safety, and to private citizens, said Feilke. All the incidents were reported in 2011.

The ceremony will start at 7 p.m., at Tara Baptist Church in Jonebsoro, with Hood delivering the keynote speech. Hood said it is important to take the time to recognize acts of heroism.

The honors to be presented will include lifesaving awards in the categories of medical, cardiac and trauma; rescue; outstanding support staff; distinguished service; and the EMT, firefighter, and paramedic of the year.

The nominations are vetted by an awards committee made up of Lts. Michael Bentley, Dwayne Casteel, Nicole Gould, Paul LaRocca and Rob Lunsford; Sgts. Lawrence Adams, Brian Bailey, Zach Botkin, Jeff Greene and Christopher Simpson; and firefighters, David Jones and Wendy Marlow.

Last month, Hood honored the lifesaving efforts of an 8-year-old boy, Malik Gipson. Gipson was recognized for using the Heimlich maneuver in December to save this brother's life.

Michael Gipson, 2, was choking on a piece of peppermint candy when Malik Gipson used the technique to pop the candy out of his throat.

Hood said he was pleased to make the award.

"It really was outstanding action on his part," said Hood. "For someone his age, it's remarkable. We have an award ceremony every year for firefighters and citizens, but I don't remember ever recognizing someone that young for an act like this."