The youngest member of the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company to receive the company's Edgar M. Williams Lifesaving Award on Saturday is an 11-year-old cadet who saved his infant sister's life by applying techniques to save her from choking, techniques he had learned through the cadet program weeks before.
The award was presented to Brendon Knopp-Hall of Joppatowne during the fire company's 59th Annual Installation of Officers, followed by the company's annual banquet and awards ceremony.
Brendon was among a host of fire company members who received the Lifesaving Award Saturday, one of a series of awards given out.
He joined the company's cadet program in October 2013 and did his heroic deed on Dec. 11, according to his parents, who also attended the banquet. He is in sixth grade at Magnolia Middle School.
Fred Causey, who is in charge of the cadet program, said it is open to young people ages 10 to 16. They learn basic firefighting skills, as well as CPR and First Aid, which includes rescuing choking victims.
Brendon was home with his sister, Miranda, now eight months old, father John Hall Jr. and grandmother-in-law, when he heard his sister choking. Brendon's mother, Danielle, was at work.
He pounded his sister on the back, which freed the object from her airway; it is the standard method of saving infants from choking.
"I just know she was choking," Brendon recalled. "I started hitting her on the back."
He added: "Whatever she was choking on came out."
Brendon's father said he was upstairs and heard him screaming for help. By the time he got downstairs, Brendon had dislodged the object.
"It's one of those things where she wasn't far from leaving us," John Hall said.
He said his daughter is healthy today.
"Today she's playful, joyful, Brendon's her best friend," he said.
The Lifesaver Award is given to fire company members who save a patient through CPR or "other medical interventions," Lewis Brown, company historian, said after the banquet.
Company volunteers were recognized for saving lives during about 10 incidents during 2013, and about 85 individual awards were given out, Brown said.
Brown said Edgar Williams was a life member and charter member of Joppa-Magnolia and started the company's ambulance service with fellow member William "Doc" McShane, and was recognized at the state level for using CPR "in the days when CPR was brand new."
'Action packed year'
Fire Chief Ryan Barrow described 2013 as an "action packed year" in the banquet program, with 33 working fires, 1,633 "fire suppression" calls and 3,972 EMS calls.
A variety of other awards were given to firefighters, EMS staff, cadets and members of the ladies auxiliary during Saturday's banquet.
The top fire responders for 2013 were D'Angelo Holmes, with 854 calls answered, Bill Vanarsdale Jr. with 485, Mark Hofmann with 479, Tyler Colvin with 456, Fred Causey Sr. with 454, Ian Williams with 416, John Terrell with 399, Greg Hanslik with 370, Austin Daniels with 351 and Jason Freund with 338.
The top EMS responders were Richard Jagat with 121, Kara Keene with 94, Ryan Ward with 73, Luke Thomas with 72, Kevin Jones with 66, Joe Ballistreri with 60, Katelyn Jones with 58, Danny Adkins with 51, Kevin Thomas with 45 and Leila Ward with 38.
Bill Vanarsdale Jr. was named Fireman of the Year, one of the top honors that is voted on by the general body of the company, Brown explained.
Derrick Lloyd, a past fire chief, was named to the Harford-Cecil Volunteer Firemen's Association Hall of Fame.
Lloyd attended the ceremony Saturday with his wife, Michelle. They have both battled cancer, which was highlighted during the award presentation.
"It's an honor," Lloyd, who lives in Joppatowne, said after the banquet.
Bonnie Haden and Amber Wainwright were named to the Harford-Cecil Firemen's Association Ladies Auxiliary Hall of Fame.
Jarrett Leuschner was named Cadet of the Year and president of the cadets.
Mark Hofmann was named Firefighter of the Year and D'Angelo Holmes was named EMS Provider of the Year.
Holmes also received the Fire and EMS Award for 2013 and was recognized for his three years of service with the company.
Carol Reprogel honored
Carol Reprogel earned the company President's Award and had the most administrative hours of service with 1,057 hours.
"So few people actually get it, and I was just shocked," Reprogel, a lifetime member of the fire company, said after the banquet about receiving the President's Award.
Lifetime members Lou and Anna Jonske, who recently moved to Ocean City, received an award for meritorious service.
Lou joined in 1966 and Anna in 1968; they spent a combined 92 years with the fire company.
He has served as company president and vice president, as well as fire chief and assistant chief. She serves with the Ladies Auxiliary, and Auxiliary President, and company chaplain Margaret Bullock gave Anna a special award for her service as Bullock's assistant.
Lou Jonske said he is still serving as ways and means chairman with the Maryland State Firemen's Association, and he was working with volunteer fire companies serving Worcester County.
"We still have family here, and all of our best friends are still here, so you'll still see us," he said.
Richard Brooks III, director of the Cecil County Department of Emergency Services, served as the banquet's emcee.
He lined up a handful of the company members, from the youngest cadets to the longest-serving leaders.
"How do we span this distance, how do we go from these young heroes and cadets to active service, well recognized, to senior tenure and leadership in a fire company in Harford County?" he asked.
He cited the enthusiasm of the younger members, the integrity of the volunteer fire service and emphasizing people over money as methods of addressing the daily challenges that face the fire service.
"Sometimes it's tough," Brooks said. "Sometimes the business of the company gets in the way, but it's back to people, people laying their hands on other people, going through the horror of fire and smoke to rescue another and put their life on the line, that's what makes the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company great."