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Dracut Fire Department Recognizes and Swears In Firefighters

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October 31, 2023 | MASSACHUSETTS ROBERT MILLS, Correspondent
This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.

DRACUT, MA - Fire Chief Richard Patterson and the Dracut Fire Department share that a ceremony was held in October to swear in new and promoted members, and to recognize exceptional work performed by Dracut Fire staff over the past year.

Held at Harvey J. Gagnon Harmony Hall, this was the second annual awards ceremony hosted by the Dracut Fire Department and the Dracut Firefighters Union, IAFF Local 2586.

"Each and every day the members of your Fire Department give nothing short of 100 percent. They face the challenges presented to them day in and day out with dedication and professionalism," said Chief Patterson. "I am proud to be a member of such an outstanding group of individuals. They all deserve recognition."

"This is a joint venture between the union and the Department. This event was created to celebrate monumental career achievements, whether it's being sworn into the best job in the world, or being promoted, or being recognized for exceptional work," said Union President Lt. Shane O'Donnell. "The stuff that we see and the stuff that we do on the job, it stays with you for the rest of your life. Some of the events that we talked about tonight are tough events to relive sometimes, but what the chief has done here is to take those events and turn them into recognition of a job well done."

Chief Patterson also extended his thanks to Pelham, N.H., Fire Chief James Midgely, a Dracut resident, and Washington Savings Bank President Jim Hogan, a former paramedic, both of whom were members of the selection committee for the awards.

Rescue Medal Award: Lt. Ken McMeniman, Firefighters Chris Coalter, Brian Lanteigne, and Michael Silva, and Police Officer Zach Coleman
Distinguished Dispatcher Award: Dispatcher Patrick Laycox
Citizens Award: Patricia McCollum

On Oct. 5, 2022, the Northern Middlesex Regional Communications Center received a call from a passerby reporting a woman was laying on the side of the road with two dogs standing over her.

A bystander, Patricia McCollum, began CPR, but was out of practice since receiving her certification years ago, and relied on Dispatcher Patrick Laycox to provide CPR instructions over the 911 line.

Engine 2, staffed by Lt. Ken McMeniman and Firefighter Chris Coalter arrived and assumed care of the patient, who was blue from the neck up. McMeniman and Coalter used an AED to deliver four shocks to the patient, while Officer Zach Coleman arrived and began ventilating the patient.

Firefighters Brian Lanteigne and Michael Silva then arrived with the Department's automatic CPR Lucas device, which was put into use.

The patient was eventually transported to Lowell General Hospital, and recovered fully from cardiac arrest, later running in her first 5k road race.

"I can say with utmost confidence, had Patricia McCollum not stopped and performed CPR, we would not have had a good outcome with this call," said Chief Patterson.

Unit Citation: Deputy Chief Thomas Mackey, Capt. Michael Seigler, Lt. Shane O'Donnell, Lt. Joel Howard, Firefighters Michael Petrilli II, John Conole, Justin Feeney, Bernardo Resto-Salgado, Matthew Chandonnet, and Johnathan Carroca

On June 4, 2023, Engine 3, Engine 1, the Rescue and Car 2 were dispatched to a rollover crash on Clement Road in which six patients, all in their teens, were injured, including one teen who had life-threatening injuries and another who had serious injuries.

Lt. Shane O'Donnell and Firefighters Michael Petrilli and John Conole arrived first and recognized that rapid patient care and transport to a trauma center would give both of the most seriously injured patients a far better chance for a positive outcome.

Lt. O'Donnell requested two MedFlight helicopters, two paramedic units, and additional ambulances for the four other patients to the scene. They then began treatment of the patients until PrideStar Trinity EMS and Greater Lowell Paramedics arrived at the scene.

Deputy Chief Thomas Mackey then arrived and assumed command. Engine 1, staffed by Capt. Michael Siegler and Firefighter Justin Feeney, as well as Rescue 1, staffed by Firefighter Bernie Resto-Salgado, arrived on scene and assisted with patient care and packaging patients for transport.

The crew of Engine 2, staffed by Lt. Joel Howard and Firefighters Matthew Chandonnet and John Carroca, were dispatched to Carrick Park to set up a landing zone for the MedFlight helicopters.

Both severely injured patients were packaged and transported to regional trauma centers, where both made full recoveries.

"The actions of all these members gave these patients the best possible outcome during a very critical incident," said Chief Patterson.

Distinguished Service Award: Lt. Joseph Daily Jr.

Lt. Joseph Daily Jr. approached Chief Patterson about a year ago and asked to become a certified ice and water rescue instructor. The Department lacked training in that area, so Chief Patterson authorized Lt. Daily to earn certification.

Daily is a member of the Essex County Regional Technical Rescue Team, and after earning certification helped prepare a list of ropes, harnesses and hardware to be able to deploy rescuers in situations where the Department previously could not.

"We were successful in getting new equipment through grant funding, and have now expanded the services we are prepared to offer if the need arises," said Chief Patterson.

Distinguished Service Award: Firefighter Christopher Gagne

Firefighter Christopher Gagne approached Chief Patterson about a year ago and asked to become a certified ice and water rescue instructor. The Department was lacking in training in that area, so Chief Patterson authorized Firefighter Gagne to earn certification.

Firefighter Gagne took the Department's water rescue program to a new level. Firefighter Gagne spent countless hours specifying what was needed, including two new boats and rescue equipment, to facilitate water rescues of all types.

"Firefighter Gagne's previous training in the U.S. Coast Guard, couple with his certification as a water rescue instructor has led to his development of entirely new water rescue training course," said Chief Patterson. "He has worked closely with Lt. Dailey to replace all of the rescue and life safety ropes in the Department as well."

Chief's Award: Firefighter Christopher Coalter

Firefighter Coulter, the Department's most experienced member, stepped up over the course of the past year. He even temporarily gave up his assignment at Station 2, so that he could help the Department solve an issue with having too many probationary firefighters and not enough senior members to provide on-the-job training, a key component in every new firefighter's training.

Coulter sacrificed so that he could mentor two new firefighters over the past year, instead of just one, helping the Department solve a major issue.

"As an instructor at the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy, he was able to use his knowledge and experience to produce two very well-trained firefighters who are a reflection of the extra time and effort put in by Firefighter Coulter," said Chief Patterson.

New Firefighters and Promotion
Lt. Brian McCarthy was sworn in to his promoted position.
Firefighter Jacob Martin was sworn in to the Department.
Firefighter Andrew Poitras was sworn in to the Department.
Firefighter Ronald Patterson III was sworn in to the Department.
Firefighter Michael Silva was sworn in to the Department.
Firefighter Ryan Charette was sworn in to the Department.

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ROBERT MILLSCorrespondent

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