County honors rescuers as heroes

More than 40 firefighters, 10 civilians recognized for help in emergencies

Anne Arundel

May 31, 2002|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

George Merkel tried to save someone's life. But someone ended up saving his.

And now he and his rescuers have been recognized by the Anne Arundel County Fire Department for their bravery.

Merkel was on his way to help paint a friend's house last month when a pickup truck crossed a double line in Lothian and forced him to swerve out of the way. The truck flipped over into an embankment and caught fire.

Merkel rushed to help the driver - and collapsed, the victim of a heart attack.

Four people stopped to help Merkel and the truck driver. The truck driver, who had suffered a diabetic attack, died, but Merkel survived, in part because his rescuers quickly started CPR.

"I was very fortunate," said Merkel, a 59-year-old retired painter from Bowie, who stood to thank the other Good Samaritans after receiving his award Wednesday night. "Everything together worked out."

Fire Department officials said all the people who stopped for the April 15 accident on Route 258 near Route 4 deserved recognition - Roxanne Trosky and Billy Krug, who started CPR on Merkel, and retired Deputy Fire Chief Nick Finamore and Charles Finamore.

Three firefighters and two paramedics from the Harwood-Lothian station were also presented with a citation for dealing with the difficult incident.

Fire Chief Roger C. Simonds Sr. and County Executive Janet S. Owens also presented career awards to Linthicum Capt. William Hamer and former Ferndale volunteer Chief Del Haley.

In all, more than 40 firefighters received citations - including those who delivered a baby boy in a car at fire headquarters in Millersville and members of a collapse rescue team who were dispatched to Berlin to retrieve a man trapped in a trench for nearly eight hours.

Ten civilians were recognized this year - an unusually high number, according to fire officials.

"We're very proud of that," said Division Chief John M. Scholz. "There were a lot of people willing to step up and do what they could to help another human being."

Scholz said fire officials were especially pleased to honor so many residents with first aid and CPR training, including an Edgewater woman who remembered how to begin CPR from her days as a Girl Scout.

Linda Antonini's training in Troop 495 in Logan, W.Va., instantly came back to her when a neighbor's 7-year-old son fell into his pool in November.

"I just took off running," she said, adding that she stopped only to yell to her husband to call 911. "He was in his father's arms, limp and drenched."

After she cleared the boy's airway, he was soon breathing on his own, she said. "When he opened his eyes, I just kept thinking, `He's going to be OK.'"

And he was.

Antonini, a 45-year-old pharmaceutical account manager who leads a Brownie troop in Crownsville, sees the boy in the neighborhood occasionally.

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