City's heroes are honored

The stories read like TV plotlines: a daring ocean rescue of a swimmer facedown in the water, revivals of choking babies close to death, a man pulled from a burning building through a second-story window, flames licking at his back.

But at a Thursday-morning awards ceremony, Newport Beach Fire Department officials said that intense training and dedication make such heroics another part of real everyday life for the city's sworn employees.

"If you asked any of the recipients, they'd simply say they were just doing their jobs," Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Kitch told an audience gathered in the old City Council Chambers on Newport Boulevard.

Still, Chief Scott Poster said, it's important to recognize extraordinary work.

The NBFD's Honor Awards did just that, as the department's top brass handed out certificates and medals to firefighters, lifeguards, police officers and paramedics who stayed cool through some of 2012's most intense call-outs.

Three lifeguards received unit citations for a multiple-victim ocean rescue, which involved a lifeguard jumping into a dangerous rip current to help pull a facedown swimmer aboard a rescue boat.

Two firefighters and a paramedic helped police identify a suspected arsonist.

First responders were honored for administering quick, lifesaving medical aid to a bicyclist hit by a truck, a man in the grips of a seizure, and three young children who weren't breathing.

Another lifeguard, a seasonal guard who works with special-needs kids during the year, earned an Award of Merit for talking a reportedly suicidal man down from Inspiration Point in Corona del Mar.

And that story of a man plucked from the billowing smoke of a Corona del Mar residential fire back in September earned firefighter Bryce Anderson a Medal of Valor.

Anderson, Poster said, arrived on the scene and climbed up a "cheesy ladder" he happened upon outside the house to "singlehandedly" carry the man to safety. Police officers Ricardo Adame and John Yim were recognized for their help on the ground.

Poster said Anderson was the first firefighter to win the medal in the department's history, and the first Newport public safety officer to win it since 2009.

"This award isn't given out every year," he said. "This award is given to a hero. And that's Bryce."

Anderson, a veteran of almost four years with the department, said that while you can train endlessly, nothing quite prepares you for the real thing.

"Right at that moment, time kind of stops," he said. "It's always a dynamic situation."

Newport Mayor Keith Curry said the city is proud of those who keep residents safe.

"The awards are representative of the service they provide day in and day out," he said, as the crowd mingled and snacked on the standbys of any good small-screen public servant: doughnuts and coffee.

Twitter: @jillcowan

The Newport Beach Fire Department's 2012 Honor Awards

Unit Citation recipients:

•Lifeguards Clay Rinker, Travis Hersh and Brandon Hodding

•Fire Capt. Justin Kime, engineer Matt McClary and paramedic Steve Martin

•Fire Capt. Rick Zaccaro, engineer Erin Brown, firefighter Aaron Reed, and paramedics Kevin Gonzalez and Joe Laser

•Fire Capts. Ty Lunde and Brian McDonough, engineers Alan Baker and Chad Spiker, firefighters Justin Dean, Jon Lauderdale and Aaron Reed, and paramedics Geoff Cathey and Dean Rush

Award of Merit recipient: Lifeguard Mike Campbell

Lifesaving Award recipients:

•Lifeguard Tim Ecker

•Firefighter Thomas Herr

•Lifeguard Charlie Hockenbury

Medal of Valor Award recipient: Firefighter Bryce Anderson

Exemplary Service Awards: Police Officers Ricardo Adame and John Yim

Source: Newport Beach Fire Department

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