Liberty Township’s fire department received the Star of Life Award from the Ohio Department of Public Safety and the Ohio American College of Emergency Physicians.
“You don’t know how indebted my family and I are to them,” said Bob Harlow, a motorcycle accident victim. “Because of them, I got to take my 5-year-old daughter to her first day of school.”
Harlow had the honor to present the award to the township department on May 24 during National Emergency Medical Services Week. The award program brings the EMS providers and their patients together.
The crash Harlow was involved in occurred on April 17, 2016, when his motorcycle went off the road and became airborne before hitting a large tree. He said he doesn’t remember anything about the accident that resulted in him being laid up for two weeks in the hospital — the first week unconscious — suffering several broken bones and requiring neck surgery.
Harlow said he and his family stay in touch with the people who saved his life. He said on the day of the anniversary of his accident, he and his family bought lunch for the crew.
“It was great to see them get something for it,” he said. “They’ve been just great to me and my family.”
The day Harlow presented the award to the department, he made a speech.
“When he gave his speech, he went through it very emotionally, about him making a bad decision that day,” said Fire Chief Thomas O’Brien. “When you look at it, yes, it was about the great care, but it was more about the message we could help him deliver through our means.”
Harlow’s side of the story and his regret for his decisions is what people should know about, the chief said.
“He’s a great spokesman for things you shouldn’t do on a motorcycle,” O’Brien said.
The accident happened last year before O’Brien was hired. The nomination for the award came from Battalion Chief William Piwtorak, EMS coordinator.
“He came here and expressed his issues with making bad decisions,” Piwtorak said. “That was my other motivating fact.”
O’Brien said he had read the report detailing the accident.
“I’m glad Chief Piwtorak did nominate them because this was a spectacular accident. Based on what I read, this gentleman is a walking testament,” he said. “I think the residents of the township and Powell probably don’t really understand how great a service they have and the professionalism of these guys and what they are capable of doing.”
Both O’Brien and Piwtorak said the department has won several awards over the years but, “we don’t make a huge deal of it because that is what we do,” said O’Brien. “A lot of guys get awards and they’re very humble and they don’t want them because that’s what they do.”
“An estimated 240 million calls are made to 9-1-1 in the U.S. each year, with approximately a million emergency runs for EMS in the state each year,” said Mel House, Ohio Emergency Medical Services executive director. “EMS teams are ready to provide critical, lifesaving care to those in need 24 hours a day, seven days a week; with many of our first responders being volunteers.”
Ohio ACEP was chartered in 1972 overseeing the training and certification of emergency medical professionals.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.