Const. Paul Drake was presented with an Ontario Medal for Police Bravery by The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, in Toronto on November 28, 2017.
One firefighter and five police officers received Ontario's top honour for bravery at the ceremony.
The Ontario Medal for Firefighter Bravery and the Ontario Medal for Police Bravery are the province's highest honours, recognizing firefighters and police officers whose actions demonstrate outstanding courage.
Const. Drake, along with fellow Brant County OPP Const. Christopher Thompson, and Const. Jeremy Morton of the Brantford Police service all received medals for their actions at a burning house on the first day of 2017.
“Ontario’s firefighters and police officers perform selfless acts of bravery every day, and put their lives on the line to keep us safe. The extraordinary heroism of Const. Drake – indeed, of everyone received bravery medals this year – reminds me how fortunate we are to have so many dedicated emergency services workers always ready to come to our aid across the province,” said Kathryn McGarry, MPP Cambridge.
Const. Morton was conducting traffic enforcement in the morning on New Year's Day when he was alerted by a motorist to a possible house fire. Driving closer to the scene, the constable saw smoke coming from a rooftop. He called the fire department and left his cruiser to see if he could help.
It was believed a man was trapped in an upstairs bedroom. Without hesitation, Const. Morton entered the home. Smoke and extreme heat were coming from the upper level. The Constable called out the name of the occupant but received no reply. He grabbed a fire extinguisher from his cruiser and re-entered the home, making his way to the upper bedroom where he thought the occupant was located.
On his third attempt to complete a rescue, Const. Morton was joined by constables Drake and Thompson. All three police officers rushed into the house, but were quickly pushed back by the heat and thick heavy smoke.
As more police arrived, Const. Thompson called for them to bring fire extinguishers from their cruisers. A final attempt was made to beat back the flames using multiple fire extinguishers, climb the stairs and locate the presumed victim.
By then, fire had completely engulfed the walls and the intensity of the flames made it impossible to proceed. Back outside, the Provincial Constables grabbed another hose to assist firefighters. All three officers were later taken by ambulance to a local hospital where they were treated for smoke inhalation.
Nobody was seriously injured in the fire. It was learned that the assumed occupant was not at home, but at a neighbours nearby.
Other 2017 bravery medal recipients:
- Constable Matthew Sweet, Belleville Police Services, for snatching a woman from the path of an oncoming freight train.
- Constable Jeffrey Lobsinger, of the Thessalon OPP detachment, for attempting a dangerous rescue of a man whose snowmobile went through the ice on a lake.
- Firefighter Jim Rose of the Sarnia Fire Rescue Services, for his part in rescuing a man and his dog whose boat sank in pounding waves near the shoreline of Lake Huron.
“It is a privilege to present the Ontario Medal for Bravery to these extraordinary police officers and firefighter. Those who we honour uphold the values of service and community. Their acts of courage inspire us all,” said The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
- Since 1976, 224 Ontario Medals for Firefighter Bravery have been awarded.
- Since 1975, 274 Ontario Medals for Police Bravery have been awarded.
- An independent body of citizens from the firefighting and policing communities representing all regions of Ontario determines medal recipients
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