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Firefighter/Paramedic Cody Ritenour Receives City of Lakeland Heroism Award

Firefighters inherently have the qualities you would expect in a hero. Helping others is what they do, and a lot of the skills and qualities they use on duty are used off duty as well. Cody was nominated for the City of Lakeland's Heroism Award based on an his actions off duty in helping at the scene of a violent car accident. He will be recognized at the City of Lakeland Commission meeting on April 6, 2015. The account is best summarized by the nomination narrative: 

"On February 15th, 2015 at approximately 9 AM, an unfortunate head-on collision took place in Osceola County on State Road 60. Cody Ritenour, a Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) Firefighter and Paramedic was several vehicles behind the incident when it occurred, while traveling home after completing his shift.

Upon noticing there was commotion up ahead, Cody made his way to the accident scene and found that bystanders had pulled a four year old girl and a six year old boy from one of the involved vehicles; it was quickly filling with smoke from an engine compartment fire. The driver of the vehicle was entrapped and was unresponsive. The fire was spreading quickly and with no way to put it out, Cody decided to instead attempt to get the victim out. He was unable to open the front doors without extrication equipment due to the severity of the crash. He made access into the vehicle through the back seat where he tried to free the entangled victim, yet was unsuccessful. The flames overcame the firewall and entered into the interior of the vehicle where the heat and smoke forced Cody to retreat.

Unable to continue helping the driver, Cody applied his training and experience in the field and turned his attention to the young children involved.  He noticed that the four year old girl was unresponsive but was breathing and had a pulse and that the six year old had suffered serious injuries but was alert. The driver of the other vehicle had minor injuries and was ambulatory. Cody sprang into action by calling 9-1-1, identified himself, and reported there was a vehicle fire and an unresponsive pediatric that will most likely need a helicopter (later, while working with the first arriving officer he confirmed that the helicopter was indeed requested).

Cody continued patient care after hanging up with the emergency operators by accessing the children’s vitals and listening to lung sounds with his personal stethoscope until further support could arrive. Cody directed several bystanders to assist him with the children until fire and EMS crews arrived. Once they arrived, Cody again identified himself and gave them the details of the scene. Cody assisted EMS with patient care and packaging the children for transport. A landing zone was established by crews on scene and two helicopters landed on State Road 60 to fly the children to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children for Trauma Care in Orlando.

We cannot express enough how incredibly proud we are of Firefighter Ritenour. Not only did he risk his own life by attempting to save the driver of the accident from a burning vehicle, but he also put his training to work and took command of the scene. Cody triaged the victims and was able to assemble the necessary resources to give the remaining victims the care they needed and a fighting chance at survival.

Cody is a young man with less than two years of practical fire and medical training however he showed poise and composure beyond his years. At the time this recommendation was written it is unknown what the outcome of the children’s injuries were or what the future holds for them but we are certain that they have a better chance of recovery due to the actions taken by Cody Ritenour on that day.

On behalf of the entire Lakeland Fire Department, we would like to formally recommend Cody Ritenour for his heroism and that he be recognized through the City of Lakeland’s Heroism Award Committee for his actions that day, and for responding beyond his call of duty.

Lieutenant  Joseph Delegge " 

We are very proud of Cody for helping by using his skills and abilities during such an unfortunate incident to improve the outcomes. 


 


Lakeland Police Department (LPD) Officers Jaime Smith and Kevin Parker received the City of Lakeland’s Heroism Award after being nominated for their actions by Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) Fire Inspector Shannon Turbeville, who at the time of the incident was serving as Fire Lieutenant on a responding engine. 

Mayor Howard Wiggs and Sgt. Harper presented the two officers the Heroism Award at the Monday, February 03, 2014 City Commission Meeting. The officers were recognized for their efforts involving a fire that occurred on November 23, 2013 in a room at the Hyatt Place located near the Lakeland Center. These two officers were the first to arrive on the scene. Parker and Smith unselfishly went to the fire floor and announced an evacuation of all the guests. They then went to the room where the fire originated and made sure the occupants were evacuated and cleared the floor of guests. They met firefighters in the lobby and informed them of the situation and assisted in a room by room evacuation of the fire floor.

Inspector Turbeville was impressed by their dedication to ensuring everyone’s safety and their selfless act of rushing into a fire affected area, even in the absence of formal fire training, in the critical early moments of the incident. So much so, that he immediately thought to recognize the two officers for their efforts through the City’s recognition program.

A big congratulations goes out to Officers Smith and Parker. Thank you from the Lakeland Fire Department. 

Officers Parker and Smith with Inspector Turbeville after the award presentation.