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Published: 5/25/2010

Springfield Township firefighters honored for quick work in saving girl hit by train

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

When an Amtrak train clipped Bri Mullinger as she walked to school last December, a crew of trained professionals from Springfield Township raced to save her life.

Last week, the township firefighters were honored in Columbus, where they received 2010 EMS Star of Life Awards. The awards were presented to them for their professionalism and fast actions to treat and then transport the critically injured girl, Springfield Township Fire Chief Barry Cousino said.

Bri lost her left leg; Cody Brown, her best friend, was killed. The two Springfield High School students were trying to outrun the train when they were struck near McCord Road.

Honored with the awards were Springfield Township firefighters and paramedics Captain William Montrie, Lt. Charles Butler, Justin Eccleston, Sean Baney, Jeffrey Merrill, Jonathan Gillen, Lynda Bennett, Joseph Purtee, and Ryan Grant, and firefighters and EMTs William Dodson, Dwain Sigmon, and Thomas Hites.

They have stayed in contact with Bri, a Springfield sophomore, as she has recovered from her injury, Chief Cousino said, and she traveled to Columbus to attend the award ceremony.

Bri's two brothers and three sisters attended the ceremony as well, said their mother, Teri Mullinger, who drove the family to Columbus. Bri, battling an infection that will keep her out of classes for the remainder of the school year, nearly missed the event, but was determined to be there to issue a public "thank you" to the firefighters, the 16-year-old's mother said. Ms. Mullinger wanted to be there too to honor the crew.

The firefighters "made some amazing decisions. They did superhuman acts. They saved her life. If they had not done what they did, she wouldn't be here today. They are huge to me. They're heroes," Bri's mother said.

Bri wanted to be there in Columbus with the firefighters for another reason as well, Ms. Mullinger said. "She understands her choices that day made a big impact on a lot of people's lives. She knows how badly they were affected," she said.

It marked the first time any Springfield Township fire and rescue personnel received the Star of Life Awards, Chief Cousino said. It's a well-deserved honor for the crew, he said.

The crew was nominated for the award by the fire department's medical director Dr. David Miramontes.

Less than a week before the award ceremony, the same Springfield Township crew was called out to a scene along the same train tracks, just down the road from where Bri and Cody were struck. A "John Doe" had been hit and killed by a train, Chief Cousino said. It was an apparent suicide, he said.

The Ohio Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians sponsored the 12th annual EMS Star of Life Awards ceremony. The group's EMS committee reviews nominations and selects winners from each region based on the EMS provider's service to his or her community and commit-ment to saving the lives of his or her patients.

Dozens of nominations illustrated exceptional prehospital care; dedicated firefighters, EMTs, police officers, and pride in community service. The EMS Star of Life Awards committee read each entry and evaluated the nominations based upon criteria, including model patient care and protocols and proper treatment.

Star of Life Award winners are described as part of the extraordinary group of men and women who serve Ohio's communities as law enforcement, firefighters, EMTs, and medics.

The awards are designed to honor exceptional EMS personnel from each of Ohio's 10 EMS regions; recognize Ohio's emergency medical services system and organizations; reunite EMS providers with the person treated and present the actual patient scenario, and raise awareness about National EMS Week held this year from May 16-22.

National EMS Week brings together local communities and medical personnel to publicize safety and honor the dedication of those who provide the day-to-day lifesaving services of medicine's "front line."



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