Lawrence Firefighter Paul King was among those honored this week during the 34th annual Firefighter of the Year Awards ceremony for his role in rescuing a driver from an overturned car in the Spicket River.
Gov. Maura Healey and Public Safety Secretary Terrence M. Reidy joined State Fire Marshal Jon M. Davine Tuesday to honor firefighters from across Massachusetts.
“Each year, the Firefighter of the Year Awards recognize acts of bravery, heroism and service that are truly remarkable—even by the remarkable standards set by Massachusetts firefighters,” said Healey. “From structure fires to rushing waters, this year’s recipients defied grave danger to protect lives and preserve property. It’s an honor to celebrate them as individuals and teams. They represent the very finest in a tradition of helping others in times of danger and crisis.”
King was awarded the Governor’s Citation for Meritorious Conduct.
Shortly after midnight last May 22, the Lawrence Fire Department was dispatched to Haverhill Road near the Spicket River for a reported car over the bridge. On arrival, they found a vehicle upside down in the water. As crews started to don their survival suits, witnesses reported the driver was drowning. Firefighter King, the chauffeur on Ladder 5, determined that the driver’s life was in grave danger.
In his Class B uniform, he fought his way through the fast-moving river, opened the door and found the driver struggling to breathe. King pulled the man to safety, and when the man said two others were still inside, he returned to the submerged vehicle ready to make additional rescues. Finding no one, King came back to shore and coordinated a high angle technical rescue to raise the patient to EMTs, who were about 15 feet above. Dive teams did an extensive search and found no indication of anyone else in the water.
“The firefighters we recognize today used every physical, mental, and technical skill available to them under some of the most extreme conditions imaginable,” said Fire Marshal Davine. “They relied on their training, their teamwork, and their determination to get the job done. It’s my great honor to thank them for their service to the Commonwealth and their communities, and to congratulate them on this well-deserved recognition.”
In all, seven medals of valor, 12 individual citations for meritorious conduct, 10 group citations for meritorious conduct, two Stephen D. Coan Fire Marshal’s Awards and one Norman Knight Award for Excellence in Community Service were presented.