Heroes are not always noticed, some fly just under the radar, but recognizing those unsung heroes is important. Thursday evening during the Independence City Commission meeting, six members of the Independence Fire/EMS Dept. received awards recognizing their heroism during a call Jan. 15.

Safety and Code Enforcement Director David Cowan and Independence Police Chief Jerry Harrison invited the following to join them at the front of the room: Fire/EMS Chief Shawn Wallis, Paramedic/firefighter John Gates, Paramedic/firefighter Shaycee Bowman, Firefighter/EMT David Rolland and Firefighter/EMT Brian Bennett and Dispatcher Maryssa Peck. 

"It is an honor and a privilege to join you this evening as we collectively recognize a group of our firefighter/EMS employees," began Cowan. "It humbles me to share my thoughts because life is precious and our crews make differences everyday in our citizens' lives. But the battle we fight during a cardiac arrest event typically has the odds against us and is a fight that is often lost by our firefighter/EMS personnel." 

Cowan explained on Jan. 15 at 12:17 a.m, the 911 center received a call from a wife whose husband had collapsed in cardiac arrest at a residence south of the county that would take 11 minutes for the crews to arrive. Awaiting emergency crews, the dispatcher on duty — Maryssa Peck — assisted the wife in performing CPR on her husband who was in cardiac arrest for 17 minutes.

"Our crews arrived and began advanced life support measures and defibrillated the gentleman which resulted in what we call ROSC, or the Return of Spontaneous Circulation," Cowan said. "I am here tonight to award our employees but we also want to recognize a key individual in this process who allowed our efforts to be successful."

Harrison added dispatchers are often the unsung heroes of the department. "Without them to receive the call, none of these things would be possible," he said. "And without the community support and supporting our use of emergency medical dispatch, these kinds of things would be very difficult to achieve. I am here to recognize our dispatch center's contribution to this life saving effort."

Wallis then spoke to the audience after asking Dan Roth and his family to come forward. "As these gentlemen mentioned, this was a team effort — dispatch, emergency workers — but the key to Dan's survival and the reason we are holding this ceremony tonight, is his wife starting CPR and continuing until our arrival," he said as he presented Tammy Roth with a bouquet of red roses. "I would like to honor you tonight." 

Mayor Leonhard Caflisch was honored to hand out certificates to the emergency personnel being recognized and congratulate them while Commissioner Louis Ysusi and Commissioner Dean Hayse shook hands and congratulated the six team members.

Caflisch said, "I would hate to live through the experience but really appreciate the dedication and the response we were able to get. We take it for granted when you go to work each day and you take it for granted each morning when we get up. None of us know what is ahead of us and it's comforting to know that should it happen we have dispatch that can give instructions and response is on the way. We can know our family and our friends are taken care of and they are in good hands. Thank you … each one of you. We really appreciate your service and your dedication to the City of Independence."