SAVANNAH, GA – February 17, 2020 – A couple of Savannah’s exceptional first responders will be honored Thursday, Feb. 27, by the Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire. While one is a firefighter and the other a police officer, they both heroically risked their lives with no reluctance to save citizens in imminent danger.
During the annual Tak Argentinis Valor Awards ceremony at the Charles H. Morris Center in downtown Savannah, the club and its supporters will recognize Advanced Firefighter Andrew Lee with Chatham Emergency Services and Police Officer Nicholas Peterson with the Savannah Police Department.
Lee’s gallant actions were demonstrated following a raging, multi-story fire at Liberty Oaks-Brandlewood Apartment caused by a lightning strike as a storm moved through the area. In all, 50 firefighters from two agencies worked to put out this extreme fire. Lee, along with firefighters Bradley Neverson and LaShawn Taylor, bravely entered the building in an attempt to suppress the fire and conduct door-to-door searches for potential survivors.
As the three first responders were engaged in suppression and search operations on the third floor of the building, part of the roof collapsed on them, causing serious burns and crushing injuries. The collapse separated Lee from the rest of his crew and left him trapped on a third-floor breezeway. Lee was able to extricate his pinned-down hand and escape the building after a ladder was raised to the third floor by other ground firefighters minutes before a second collapse of the roof. His hand was severely burned because he lost his protective glove. Lee was transported by Chatham EMS Paramedics to the Augusta Burn Center, where he underwent several procedures and two surgeries to save his hand. Lee required rehabilitation but returned to his duties as an advanced firefighter several weeks later.
The apartment building was a total loss, but all occupants escaped, and numerous animals were rescued. Lee’s courage, valor, and performance in the face of danger stood out to Chief Conrad Kearns, who nominated him for this award.
The second Valor Award will go to Police Officer Nicholas Peterson. In May 2019, first responders were called to a fire at Savannah Summit Apartments. Officer Peterson was the first responder on the scene and, without hesitation, entered the building to locate any endangered residents. The elevators were inoperable, so Peterson ran up 11 flights of stairs through activated sprinklers to the apartment that was on fire. Once he entered the unit, he found a 60-year-old woman with severe burns and pulled her safely into the hallway. She told him that her adult daughter was missing and might still be inside the burning residence. Officer Peterson ensured the older woman was safe before he bravely ventured back into the apartment in an attempt to find her daughter. This was a difficult task as low visibility, fire and heavy smoke forced Peterson to return to the hall for air several times as he continued to search for the daughter. As he is a police officer and not a firefighter, Peterson was not outfitted in the protective gear and equipment that firefighters wear when entering a blaze of that size.
When firefighters arrived on the scene, Peterson briefed them about the missing daughter and they took over the search in the apartment. Peterson then put the 60-year-old burn victim on his back and carried her down the 11 flights of stairs to paramedics who informed him that she was suffering from burns to over 90 percent of her body. Once outside, he learned that the daughter had already made it outside safely prior to his arrival on the scene. Unfortunately, sometime later, the burn victim passed away from her injuries.
Following the incident, many of the firefighters thanked Officer Peterson for a job well done. He displayed excellent valor that day as he put himself in harm’s way repeatedly in an effort to save a life, according to Savannah Police Department Chief of Police Roy Minter, who nominated Peterson.
The honorees were selected for the awards by a first responder committee, according to Club President Mark Dana. Nominations were received from the 20 counties that comprise the Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire’s support area. The award recipients each will receive a plaque and a medal of valor.
“The 200 Club’s main mission is to support first responders and their families in case of death or critical injuries in the line of duty. Everything we do as an organization is to serve these local heroes who make sacrifices to keep our community safe,” Dana said. “That is why we must recognize first responders who display great acts of valor in the face of danger and put others’ safety before themselves. We hope this award is a symbol of our sincere appreciation for these brave individuals’ service.”
The club is a nonprofit, independent organization that relies on its members’ annual dues and donations as well as fundraising events to provide donations to families of the fallen and injured first responders.
Tickets to the Valor Awards are $25 and include entry to the awards ceremony and heavy hors d’ oeuvres. To reserve your seat, please visit https://twohundredclub.mypaysimple.com/s/valor-awards.
For more information, go to www.twohundredclub.org, call 912-721-4418 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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