Firefighters lauded for heroism, service
BY JENNIFER KAPIOLANI SAXTON
EDWARDSVILLE - Two Edwardsville firefighters were honored Tuesday with the Medal of Valor for their heroic rescue of an unconscious teenager from a burning house just days after one of the area's worst ice storms.
Firefighters Matt Sinnokrak and Bill Reiter were recognized just before the Edwardsville City Council meeting for their actions during a Dec. 2 fire at 7077 Pin Oak Road.
"Heavy smoke and high heat conditions inside of the house created a zero visibility situation, requiring these firefighters to go by sense of feel alone," Edwardsville Fire Chief J. Brian Wilson said during the ceremony.
"Reiter and Sinnokrak rapidly searched through each room of the first floor, find the victim in a back bedroom. Nineteen-year-old Caleb Bruce was found unconscious on the bedroom floor and was quickly removed and placed into a waiting ambulance."
Bruce, who had not seen the firefighters since the rescue, assisted Wilson by presenting the medals to the firefighters.
"I'm happy to see their faces," Bruce said. "I definitely just wanted to shake their hands and say thank you."
After Bruce was rescued, he was taken to Anderson Hospital in Maryville and then transferred to St. John's Mercy Medical Center in Creve Coeur, Mo. He was released from Dec. 22.
Sinnokrak said the department's fire investigator continued to keep everyone posted on Bruce's condition while in the hospital.
"To see him is really nice," said Sinnokrak, who is a probationary firefighter.
Reiter, a 13-year veteran with the department, described rescuing Bruce as "the best feeling in the world."
After the ceremony, Bruce's mother, Cheryl Bruce wasted no time giving both Sinnokrak and Reiter a tearful hug.
"I love them for saving my son," Cheryl Bruce said. "The firefighters in Edwardsville are saviors."
Bruce, her son and her daughter, Kelly Bruce, 17, are currently living in a rental home in Edwardsville, but are considering moving to Fairfield to be closer to her family.
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02-07-2007, 04:25 PM #1
Edwardsville firefighters honored
02-07-2007, 11:30 PM #2
Good work L1700!!
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