Valor displayed every day

Published 8:34 pm Saturday, April 25, 2015

Rescuing people from burning buildings and bringing back people from the brink of death are extraordinary occurrences for most people, but police officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel across America do them on a daily basis.

They’re quite a common occurrence here in Hampton Roads, too, as demonstrated by the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce’s Valor Awards. The annual awards breakfast was held in Portsmouth Friday.

Personnel were nominated by their agencies, and a selection committee chose the honorees. Six Suffolk police officers and one Suffolk Fire and Rescue lieutenant were given awards.

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Suffolk Fire Department Lt. Steven A. Henkle went into a burning building through a window to rescue a woman from her bedroom. The fire was so intense that it burned through the hose being used by his comrades to make their way through the house to the woman, meaning it’s likely the woman would have perished in the fire if it weren’t for his quick and selfless action. He received the Bronze Medal of Valor at the event.

Suffolk Police Officer Ashley Allen was given a Lifesaving Award for reviving a neighbor who had attempted to commit suicide. He may have died had Allen not answered the call of duty, despite the fact she was off duty and asleep when her neighbor’s wife starting banging on her door.

Officer Samantha Blake received a Lifesaving Award for conducting CPR on a 70-year-old man who had suffered a cardiac arrest.

Officers Shane Sukowaski and Daniel Nesbitt also received Lifesaving Awards for reviving a man who was suffering cardiac arrest. They used an automated external defibrillator as well as chest compressions and rescue breathing.

Both men’s conditions improved thanks to the quick actions of the officers.

Detective William Shockey also received an Investigative Merit Award for his work on a murder investigation, and Detectives Jeffrey Lurie and Alex Johnson received the same award for solving a string of credit union burglaries.

We are extraordinarily grateful for these actions and countless more that kept Suffolk citizens safe during 2014. Though we certainly hope murders, fires, cardiac arrests and other misfortunes don’t occasion the need for such heroic actions this year, we know these brave men and women stand just as ready to help save lives and keep Suffolk safe again in 2015.