On Monday night, Deputy Fire Chief Jon Trautwein began the City Council meeting in Pasadena City hall by introducing to the Mayor, Council, and members of staff to a group of exemplary emergency responders.
“Thank you, Mr. Mayor and Members of Council, for this opportunity this evening to honor several of our firefighters and our paramedic intern,” Deputy Chief Trautwein began. “Recently, these firefighters and this paramedic intern did volunteer to provide relief over in Nepal for that devastating earthquake. We’re proud of these firefighters and our motto in the fire department is, ‘The Desire to serve and the Courage to Act,’ and I believe that these individuals here epitomize that. So we’re very honored and proud that they work with us and serve our community.”
After this, the Deputy Chief introduced the family members of the volunteer rescuers and Mayor Terry Tornek approached the group after delivering a brief speech. “So this is a real privilege,” the Mayor said, “for me and my first meeting as Mayor to be able to recognize you [all] for what you [all] have done. It’s really representative of what’s best about Pasadena and the people that work here. And we’re very proud of you, and we’re delighted that you’re back safe, and [we’re delighted] that you were able to provide service across the world—on your own time—with your own resources so all of Pasadena is really grateful for what you’ve done.”
Mayor Tornek then presented the volunteers with special certificates acknowledging their service abroad.
Speaking on behalf of the department in a phone Tuesday morning interview, Lisa Derderian, the Public Information Officer for the Pasadena Fire Department, said of the group, “They’re the epitome of what we look for in a firefighter or paramedic. Not just someone who works for the City and then goes home; they exemplify [the best] of what someone in the medical/search and rescue/firefighting profession does for a living.”
Derdarian says that the group “treated over 400 people in a small town. This ranged from everything from bumps, bruises, fractures to intestinal issues.”
Because all the aid was primarily focused in major population centers like Kathmandu, Ms. Derdarian noted that, “for a lot of people [affected by the quake] they were the first sign of help. Not only did they provide aid to the small villages, but psychologically it was beneficial given their presence—they helped provide a sense of stabilization. They not only provide medical care but they played with the kids, helped to set up water filtration facilities, provide food, and put up tents.”
The Firefighters and Paramedic intern who flew to Nepal did so in cooperation with actor Paul Walker’s (of The Fast and The Furious franchise) charity “Reach Out Worldwide.” Reach Out Worldwide is a nonprofit focused on disaster relief efforts and first saw operation after the Haitian earthquake of 2011.
Derderian noted that Fireman Dave Marquez has gone with Reach Out before on four other deployments prior to this one in Nepal and has helped out with humanitarian aid in all over the world; but the Independent wasn’t able to reach him at home for comment.
There will always be disasters natural disasters, Derdarian concluded. And for Pasadena residents, it’s good to know that the Pasadena Fire Department is comprised of many men and women willing to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to help out lives in need, wherever those lives might be.