Posted by Brian Lan on Feb 28, 2019
President Rhonda Poppen led today’s meeting, beginning with the introduction of a large number of distinguished Rotarians and visitors including District 5150 District Governor Jayne Hulbert, and Past District Governors Ron Gin, Chris Gallagher and Donna-Lee Young Rubin (Non-Profit Medical Services; Rotaplast), and District Governor-Elect Sue Rokaw. In addition, there were a number of Rotarians in attendance from the Greater Mission and Chinatown Clubs.
After President Rhonda welcomed the first responder honorees, their families, guests, visitors and members, she expressed her gratitude to the volunteers who made the event possible, and to the event sponsors: Zephyr Real Estate and Guaranteed Rate. Past President John Mathers (Management Consulting; eVo Associates) then led the attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Past President Laine Hendricks (Public Relations; County of Marin) and Greg Gutting (Human Services; The Salvation Army, Golden Gate Division) served as co-emcees for the Emergency Services Day event. Laine and Greg presented a brief history of Rotary for the benefit of the honorees and invited guests, and shared Rotary’s mission of service. They also welcomed the supervisory and command staffs from each of the four emergency organizations in attendance – the San Francisco Fire Department, the San Francisco Police Department, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, and the local US Coast Guard.
Mayor Breed’s liaison, Executive Director of the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management Mary Ellen Carroll, then presented a brief overview of the role of first responders, sharing how they had actually assisted her when she was involved in a serious bicycle-car collision. On behalf of the City of San Francisco and the Mayor, she expressed her gratitude to all those first responders who dedicate their lives to helping others in times of crisis.
Laine and Greg noted that each of the honorees will receive a customized crystal award, a two-night stay at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, a dinner for two at Scala’s Bistro, and a Certificate of Honor from Mayor London Breed.
Each of the honorees was accompanied by their supervisor, and members of the command staff from their department or service branch. The San Francisco Rotary Club 2019 Emergency Service Day Awardees are:
SFPD Sergeant Richard Jones and SFPD Sergeant Jenni Hennessey-Jones were honored for creating “Hunter’s Chest” (named after their son) to help kids overcome some of the trauma associated with child victimization, parents/guardians being arrested or victimized, and kids and families dealing with the loss of their possessions resulting from robberies or burglaries. Children coming to District Stations receive a small bag containing a toy, snack and (if appropriate) a diaper. Kids are also provided with activity books, crayons, markers and stickers, all aimed at lessening trauma associated with police stations and police officers. Rick spoke on behalf of the couple, and thanked their families and their SFPD command staff for supporting this program, which has been copied in other cities.
SFPD Sergeant Michael Mellone and SFPD Officer Jarrod Yee responded to a radio call of an active structure fire in the City’s Richmond District in August 2018. Arriving before the fire department, Mellone and Yee observed flames and smoke coming from the second floor of the three-story apartment building. Despite heavy black smoke, they entered the burning building, and successfully evacuated the building’s occupants. Sergeant Mellone spoke on behalf of the two officers, thanking their families and expressing gratitude for the good work done by Rotary.
Sheriff’s Senior Deputy Clarence Lewis III retired recently after a stellar career marked by personal courage and compassion. Over the course of his 30-year career as a Sheriff’s Deputy, he defused jail riots, comforted hospital patients, and helped persons facing eviction find services and hope. Senior Deputy Lewis also had a parallel, 30-year career as a minister. He has shared his law enforcement experiences with elementary school students, and has been active in other community activities. His participation in barbershop and hair salon discussions about improving relations between law enforcement and the communities it serves was chronicled in the 2018 documentary film, “Chop Shop.” He thanked Sheriff Vicki Hennessy and her command staff for their support. Sheriff Hennessy described Senior Deputy Lewis as an “incredible role model” for her deputies.
Sheriff’s Deputy Barry Bloom, a 25-year veteran of the department, was honored for saving five persons who overdosed on opioids in 2018. When confronted with these situations, Deputy Bloom responded with compassion and applied his training with prolonged rescue breathing, as well as multiple administrations of Narcan, ultimately saving the lives of the victims.
United States Coast Guard Avionics Electrical Technician Third Class Dylan Langley was honored for his exemplary performance and leadership during two dramatic helicopter rescues in 2018. One helicopter flight was during the Santa Barbara mudslide devastation and the second was a challenging sheer cliff face rescue of stranded climbers at Alum Rock Park in San Jose at night. Avionics Electrical Technician Third Class Langley’s outstanding performance in the back of the rescue helicopter saved the lives of several persons (and two pets). He noted that all of the members of his helicopter crew should share his award.
United States Coast Guard Lieutenant Rachel Thomas was climbing on Mount Whitney during her off-duty hours in June 2018, when she came upon three climbers who had fallen 500 feet down a 40% grade. After stabilizing their position on the perilous hillside, she began treating their head wounds, broken bones and major skin abrasions. Faced with extremely limited cellular phone service, she managed to utilize text messaging to seek assistance and coordinate a rescue operation, relaying her location and the critical nature of the situation to authorities. They were eventually rescued by a CHP helicopter, and all recovered.
SFFD Paramedic Edward Bird was honored for his charitable fundraising efforts and for his recent project to remove hypodermic needles from City streets. He thanked the Club, and expressed his gratitude to the SFFD command staff, his wife and parents for their support of his volunteer activities.
SFFD Paramedics Daniel McAtee and James O’Donnell responded with multiple rescue units to a horrific high-speed single vehicle crash in late 2017. The victim was trapped so severely that only his left arm was accessible. Extrication of the victim from the mangled vehicle took over two hours, during which Paramedics McAtee and O’Donnell administered life-saving medical care, including use of tourniquets, large-bore IVs, and preparation and treatment of Crush Syndrome. The victim was eventually extricated alive, and several months later initiated a patient-rescuer reunion, walking into the room without residual impairment. Paramedics McAtee and O’Donnell expressed gratitude to the entire rescue team, particularly the SFFD Incident Commander who devised a creative (and ultimately successful) extrication plan involving multiple tow trucks.
In a special presentation, President Rhonda then surprised retiring SFFD Chief Joanne Hayes-White with a Paul Harris Fellowship in honor of her 29 years of service. Chief Hayes-White received a standing ovation from the audience.
Emergency Services Day Chairman David Dye (Management Consulting; Retired) then acknowledged and thanked all of the members of the Emergency Services Day Committee for arranging this sold-out event. President Rhonda added a special recognition to Dora Dye (Education; City College) for her tremendous efforts in coordinating the event.
President Rhonda then encouraged all visitors and honorees – and particularly retiring SFFD Chief Hayes-White, who, as Rhonda noted, “will probably have a lot more free time” – to consider joining Rotary.
Thank you to our event sponsors:
Photos by John Mount (Statistical Consulting; Win-Vector) and John Mathers
Edited by John Dean (Dean Dispute Resolution)