Connie C. Bornman, 57, volunteer firefighter, EMT in Balto. County

May 20, 2004|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

The Leland Avenue firehouse of the Middle River Volunteer Ambulance Rescue Company and its members are wearing black and pink ribbons in memory of one of their own.

Connie C. Bornman, a firefighter and emergency medical technician, died Monday while treating a patient - her sixth run that day as she worked to save lives despite her own medical problems that included breast cancer.

Mrs. Bornman, 57, had responded to a call in the 1100 block of Old Eastern Ave. to assist a patient who was suffering from chest pains. Complaining she wasn't feeling well because of the heat, she went to rest in the air-conditioned ambulance and suffered a cardiac arrest. She was pronounced dead at Franklin Square Hospital Center.

The Baltimore County Fire Department said she was its 38th firefighter - career or volunteer - and the first woman to die in the line of duty.

"We're kind of down right now, but what's pulling us together is ironing out the details for Connie's funeral on Saturday. This has really hit home because she was someone we were used to always seeing. And now, we can't get used to not seeing her," said Jerry K. Ertwine, a 14-year member of the Middle River volunteer company.

For Mrs. Bornman, who was known as "Miss Connie," and her husband of 22 years, George E. Bornman Jr., a printer with Harbor Duvall Graphics, becoming volunteer firefighters five years ago was the fulfillment of a dream.

"We had wanted to volunteer for a long time, but with our three kids, school and sports, we didn't have time. When the kids were grown and at the urging of one of our sons who was a volunteer, we were finally able to join the company and begin to give something back to the community," Mr. Bornman said.

While attending classes at the fire academy in 2002, Mrs. Bornman received a diagnosis of breast cancer. Earlier, she had recovered from a stroke suffered in 1997.

"Even though she was tired a lot and endured a ton, she managed to complete her training. Between removal of her breast, reconstructive surgery and chemotherapy, she never missed a beat," her husband said. "She was an amazing woman who believed that life went on, and that's why she was something of an icon to the other women at the station."

"She was one of our top three responders, and on a monthly basis made 35 to 40 responses. And it wasn't uncommon for her often to make more calls than that," said Mark G. Falkenhan, the company's chief. "She was a very personable and cordial person who got a lot of enjoyment out of what she did. She was outgoing and always took our new members under her wing."

"Connie never let her own medical condition get her down. She always had a smile on her face, and to many of us was a role model and a second mother," said Susan D. Varelli, a paramedic.

"When she was out on a call, she was always very calm and never lost her cool. She would hold a patient's hand and had a very sensitive demeanor toward them," she said.

During Tropical Storm Isabel last year, Mrs. Bornman manned the station, offering comfort and sympathy to storm victims taking refuge there. She even made sure their pets were comfortable.

Mrs. Bornman had spent a year as a company lieutenant, and since last year had been in charge of fund raising and booking the company's hall.

"Last month she brought in $4,000 in bookings," said Shawn M. Sebo, the company's captain.

She was born Connie C. Lamartina in Baltimore and raised in the Hamilton neighborhood. She was a 1966 graduate of Eastern High School and worked for 15 years as an account manager at Tate Engineering Systems Inc.

In the 1980s, she joined Zapp Printing Co. in Middle River, which was owned and operated by her in-laws. She eventually became owner of the business, selling it in 1994.

"Her spare time was spent with either her grandchildren or at the firehouse. That's what she wanted to do," Mr. Bornman said.

A funeral with Fire Department honors will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Connelly Funeral Home, 300 Mace Ave. in Essex. She will be buried at the fallen firefighters memorial in Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens.

In addition to her husband, Mrs. Bornman is survived by three sons, Joseph J. Rozankowski III, George E. Bornman III and John E. Bornman, all of Essex; three brothers, Harry Alascio and Joseph Lamartina, both of Middle River, and Charles Guerassio of Carroll Valley, Pa.; two sisters, Mary Alascio and Annette Stehle, both of Middle River; and four grandchildren. Her previous marriage to Joseph Rozankowski Jr. ended in divorce.

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