Every year, between the months of January and May, several community organizations select a Firefighter and Emergency Medical Responder of the Year to honor for heroic efforts in the field. The most prominent of the awards being those of the President’s Roundtable, a consortium of several community groups like Rotary, Lion’s Club, and Kiwanis that select emergency responder who have done something above and beyond in the field that required true heroism above the call of duty.
The Lakeland Fire Department is very proud to have two of its Firefighters honored at the event. Firefighter/ Paramedic Cody Ritenour and Firefighter/Paramedic Alvin Catholic for Firefighter of the Year, respectively.
This is a great honor and very well deserved. The incidents that led to their nomination and awards are outlined in the narratives below.
“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 back seat of the vehicle 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 gave an accurate on scene report requesting the appropriate units to be dispatched including a fire suppression unit, Emergency Medical Services, police, and that two helicopters be put on standby for pediatric trauma alerts.
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.” - Lieutenant Joseph Delegge
“On December 13th, 2015 at 1am, Alvin responded to a structure fire on LFD Engine 21 with the report of a person being trapped in the apartment. Upon arrival there was a confirmation of a person that was on the floor in the apartment and was unable to exit the structure on her own. Alvin pulled an 1 ¾ attack line to the door of the apartment and then made entry into the home. Inside of the home, Alvin encountered heavy smoke, heat, and had no visibility. Alvin was able to locate the victim in the living area near the hallway of the residence. After locating the victim, Alvin reassured her and kept her calm, event though she was initially combative. The victim was pulled from the home and delivered to emergency medical crews for treatment. The victim was able to be treated on scene and released. Alvin then continued with his firefighting actions and was able to extinguish the fire remaining in the structure. Alvin’s decisive and quick actions brought a quick resolution resulting in the saving of the woman’s life.” – Lieutenant Chris Farina
Congratulations to both firefighters. They are a shining example of the heroism of all of LFD’s emergency responders who serve Lakeland selflessly every day.
Firefighter / Paramedic Cody Ritenour
Firefighter / Paramedic Alvin Catholic