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Arlington emergency personnel recognized for service at Public Safety Awards

Arlington fire truck (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

A firefighter who rescued a construction worker in cardiac arrest via a crane. Police officers who tased a knife-wielding man outside of police headquarters. Paramedics who saved a woman’s life after she was accidentally run over by her own vehicle.

These were among the first responders who were given accolades at this morning’s annual Public Safety Awards, organized by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.

Thirteen first responders and public safety workers were awarded for their efforts over the last year in helping, saving, and protecting members of the Arlington public.

  • Dr. Aaron Miller — Director of Public Safety Communications and Emergency Management — meritorious award for his work organizing the distribution of personal protection equipment and at-home Covid testing kits to the public, as well as managing public testing sites.
  • Corporal Shellie Pugh-Washington — Sheriff’s Office — meritorious award for her 30-year career, first as a corrections officer and now as a background investigator.
  • Deputy Babatunde Agboola, Deputy Christopher Laureano, and Deputy Seaton Sok — Sheriff’s Office — life-saving award for saving the life of an individual in law enforcement custody who was found bleeding and unconscious.
  • Master Police Officer Tara Crider — Police Department — meritorious award for her work in the crime unit investigating forensic evidence as well as teaching others about her job.
  • Officer Jesse R. Brown, Corporal Thomas C.J. DeNoville, and Corporal Juan P. Montoya — Police Department — life-saving award for successfully de-escalating a situation involving a knife-wielding man outside of police headquarters.
  • Captain Cheryl Long — Fire Department — meritorious award for her work devising a system that helped organize first responders’ mandatory days off, saving hours of administrative work.
  • Firefighter/EMT C.J. Kretzer and Firefighter/EMT Aaron Scoville — Fire Department — life-saving award for saving a woman’s life after she was accidentally run over by her own vehicle, partially severing one of her legs.
  • Firefighter/Paramedic Jeremy Tate, Fire Department — a valor award for rescuing a construction worker who had gone into cardiac arrest at an excavation site, using an industrial crane.

ACPD provided additional information about each of the police awards above via social media.

The program was hosted by ABC7/WJLA reporter Victoria Sanchez, who noted that both her father and husband were police officers.

“I know how hard you guys work. When you go home today, thank your [family] for supporting you,” she said. “Your job is so difficult and they worry about you, just like I worried about my dad and my husband every single time they went out on patrol.”

2022 Public Safety Awards issued by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce at a virtual event (courtesy photo)

Prior to the awards being announced, County Board Chair Katie Cristol provided a 12 minute “State of the County” address.

Cristol spoke of continuing recovery from the pandemic, office vacancy rates, Crystal City becoming a transportation hub, approving salary increases for first responders, and — notably — the missing middle housing study.

With the average sale of a home in Arlington spiking to beyond a million dollars, there are now “existential questions,” she said, about who Arlington will be for “if only the wealthiest can buy homes here.” Cristol said that legalizing alternate forms of housing on a single lot may not fix everything, but it could help.

“It can unlock opportunities that are currently off limits for far too many of our neighborhoods and make homes affordable to significant percentages of our black and Latino populations, affordable to moderate income earners like teachers,” she said. “It creates a pathway for innovations and ownership tools like community land trusts or expansions of the Moderate Income Purchase Assistance Program.”

County Board Chair Katie Cristol delivering her 2022 State of the County address (courtesy Arlington Chamber of Commerce)

After her address, there were several pre-selected questions including one about making temporary outdoor seating areas for restaurants permanent. Cristol noted that she was in favor of doing that, but cautioned that sidewalks and curb space where many of these seating areas are much desired.

“I joke that these are some of the most hotly contested areas of real estate in the county,” she said. “It’s about how we use sidewalks and manage that space between everything…from street trees to ADA accessibility to parking to bike lanes. So, it’s really about trying to balance all of those different interests.”

More on Cristol’s address from a Chamber of Commerce press release, below.

Katie Cristol began her State of the County address by acknowledging the difference between this year and the last time she gave this address in 2018. “It’s true that we are not the same Arlington that we were four years ago, and after all we have endured, there is no going back to the way we used to be. But what if because of all of the struggle and trial, we were better?”

She spoke about Arlington’s economy and its challenges, but also its major transformations such as the growth of the technology sector, including the arrival of Amazon, Boeing, and Raytheon headquarters. These expansions hope to bring new partnerships for school facilities and with other organizations in the community. She said that these partnerships and changes have a goal of “a truly inclusive innovation economy that lifts up and benefits from the talents of everyone in Arlington.”

She also spoke about recent transportation investments, the Arlington housing market, and the importance of the health care and public safety sectors. After her address, she answered questions on a number of issues relevant to the business community including, her thoughts on the Missing Middle Housing Study, the increasing office vacancy rate, temporary outdoor seating, and the continued challenges of emerging from a pandemic.

Regarding the Missing Middle Housing study she said, “It is a responsibility to listen to and reach different voices on this matter and broaden who is at the table making the decisions.” Chair Cristol noted that the housing market is a top priority for her saying, “Who is Arlington for if only the wealthiest can afford to live here?”

The office vacancy rate is one of the biggest challenges for Arlington right now standing at 20.9% in the first quarter of 2022, which is up from 16.3% in 2020. In regards to handling this challenge Cristol said, “There is a lot of uncertainty moving forward, but with AED leadership we are in incredibly strong hands during the transition. We are in great hands with our acting Director Shannon Flanagan-Watson who has the mindset of direct service to businesses. Reducing the vacancy rates remains a top priority for economic development.” She emphasized the importance of coordination between the economic development Planning and Zoning offices to ensure that the County is not just reacting to innovations, but planning for and welcoming them.

Following the State of the County address, awards were presented to honor Arlington County’s public safety personnel and first responders. Thirteen honorees were recognized for their courageous, and often life-saving, actions in the line of duty and beyond. Leadership of all respective departments submitted nominations for the honorees, based on their performance over the past year.

Among the honorees was Firefighter/Paramedic Jeremy Tate who received the Valor Award for his heroic acts, on July 28, 2021, when Arlington County Fire Department Units were dispatched to a construction site, where a heavy machine operator who was working at the bottom of the excavation site, had gone into cardiac arrest.

It was determined that the easiest, safest, and quickest way to remove the patient from the excavation site was by utilizing the site’s tower crane and the Arlington County Fire Department’s stokes basket. While harnessed to the basket with the patient, suspended from the tower crane, Tate monitored the Lucas Device that was providing continuous chest compressions while also ventilating the patient via a bag valve mask. As they were lifted from the construction site, the patient regained a pulse and was safely transferred to the ambulance. In the ambulance, a pulse was maintained the entire transport and care was transferred to ER staff for further treatment.

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