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Fire Department honors locals for saving lives

Four men recognized at awards luncheon for brave actions

Posted: March 4, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 4, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Hector Cazar

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Rushing to the aid of wounded SWAT officers, rescuing victims of an airplane crash and saving the life a motorcycle crash victim are the stories behind four local men honored for their bravery.

Four firefighter and paramedics who live in the Santa Clarita Valley but work for the Los Angeles Fire Department were honored Thursday at the department’s Foundation 2011 Awards Luncheon at the Hollywood Palladium.

David Finger and Hector Cazar, who work at stations in Chatsworth and Northridge, respectively, each received a Medal of Merit for having attended to the gunshot injuries of two Los Angeles Police Department SWAT officers who were shot Feb. 7, 2008, after responding to reports a gunman had killed members of his family.

LAPD Officer Randy Simmons died in that shoot-out. Officer James Veenstra was severely wounded.

“The paramedics assigned to the rescue ambulances never knew if the scene was secured,” according to the Fire Department’s awards program, which was drafted from department reports, according to Melissa Williamson. “They showed no concern for their own safety.”

With 26 years of service, Joseph St. Georges works with the department’s air operations unit out of the Van Nuys Airport. St. Georges received a Letter of Special Commendation on Thursday for his part in having treated the victims of a small airplane that crashed in the Oat Mountain Range.

St. Georges made his way down the hillside where the single-engine Cessna crashed into the side of the mountain, and he helped remove patients from the crash, according to the department’s report explaining the commendation.

Capt. Cristian Granucci, a 20-year veteran who is also a paramedic with the fire station in Arleta, was off-duty in Valencia when he came across a motorcyclist who had crashed into a metal cage that covered a sprinkler control.

The victim was reportedly unconscious and unresponsive, facedown in water gushing from a severed water pipe, according to the Fire Department.

“Were it not for Granucci’s actions and skills, at worst, the patient would have died or could have been permanently paralyzed,” according the account printed in the awards program.

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