The national news has been particularly sad and disheartening this week. As an antidote to that, we didn’t want you to miss some inspiring stories we heard at the April 11 Valor Awards, hosted by the Fauquier County Chamber of Commerce.
Lt. Brendan Miller of the Fauquier County Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management, was one of many brave and dedicated professionals who was honored. On the afternoon of March 10, 2018, Miller was one of many who responded to a report of a multiple-vehicle accident with multiple injuries. One of the cars was on fire.
As Miller’s Medic 10 arrived on the scene, one person was still trapped in a car. The driver of the other car narrowly escaped their SUV’s burning wreckage. Miller found the driver on the hot asphalt still trying to crawl away from the smoke and heat. Once in the clear, it was apparent the patient was badly injured and needed a trauma center. Meanwhile, the patient in the second vehicle was still trapped and in need of attention, as the fire grew in size and intensity.
Miller ran back to the fire station -- a half of a mile away -- to retrieve the closest fire engine. After the fire was extinguished, Miller was able to return to providing care for the injured patient.
The story of Miller’s heroism was only one of many told Thursday night. Last August, Sgt. Spillars of the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to a home where a large tree had fallen through the roof. The structure was unstable, and a child was trapped inside. Spillars forced open the door to the child’s bedroom as a portion of the ceiling collapsed on top of him. He and the child’s stepfather continued to work feverishly to free the trapped child until the arrival of fire and rescue. Tragically, 10-year-old Lydia Gherghis did not survive.
On September 16, of last year, Officer Matthew Eggers of the Warrenton Police Department responded to the Blackwell Road overpass at the U.S. 17 spur. When he arrived, Eggers observed a visibly upset, barefoot woman walking toward the overpass. Officer Eggers made contact with the woman and learned that she was distraught over a failing relationship and wanted to commit suicide by jumping from the overpass.
The woman had consumed drugs and alcohol earlier that evening, and Eggers observed markings on her body that were indicative of self-mutilation, as well. Eggers recognized that the female was in crisis and utilized his crisis intervention training to talk with her, calm her; he successfully persuaded her to seek a mental health evaluation.
Police officers and fire and rescue personnel never know what their day will bring. One evening in January, for instance, Warrenton Police Officers Michael Crosswhite and Van Grimes diffused a hostage situation. A man was reportedly acting irrational and paranoid, yelling at employees at a local business. Prior to their arrival, the officers were told the subject had taken a woman hostage and was holding her at knife point. Upon arrival, Crosswhite began talking to the man, attempting to calm him down while giving specific commands to drop the weapon and release the hostage. The man complied, and the woman was rescued. Grimes was able to take the man into custody.
Whatever is happening on the national stage, we are fortunate in Fauquier County to have outstanding public safety agencies staffed by amazing men and women who are passionate about protecting our citizens. We are proud to be able to tell their stories.