Three members of the Philadelphia Fire Department have been honored for their quick actions, professionalism and bravery at the scene of a gas explosion and at a car crash on a busy interstate.
The ceremony for the Firefighter & EMS Providers of the Year was held on Oct. 13 at Fireman’s Hall Museum.
“These are truly selfless public servants,” said Fire Commissioner Adam K. Thiel. “These are folks who quite literally commit their lives, on- and off-duty, to our life-saving mission.”
Paramedic Thomas Olkowski and EMT Michael Lapsker were honored as the EMS Providers of the Year for their response to a gas explosion in a residential neighborhood.
Olkowski and Lapsker were working at Medic 45 in Port Richmond when they were dispatched to a scene with heavily damaged homes and injured residents. They immediately requested additional EMS support and resources and began triage.
While accepting his award, Olkowski said that he had simply done his job. And he praised his colleagues for the overall response on that difficult incident.
“The Fire Department as a whole does such an excellent job working together as a team,” said Olkowski, a 13-year veteran of the PFD.
Firefighter Anthony Menna was recognized as the Firefighter of the Year for pulling an unconscious driver from a burning car after it crashed on the Schuylkill Expressway. Menna had just finished a shift at Ladder 19 in South Philadelphia when the incident occurred last year.
“I firmly believe any firefighter or EMS personnel who was in my place that day would have done the exact same thing,” he said. “Thank you to the City of Philadelphia for giving me the honor of putting on this uniform every day, and for this recognition.”
The board of the PFD Historical Corporation, which operates Fireman’s Hall Museum, chooses the award recipients based on nominations from the PFD.