Bloomington Fire Department to Present Civilian Lifesaving Award

(BLOOMINGTON) – In a ceremony this Saturday at City Hall, the Bloomington Fire Department (BFD) will recognize five individuals with the Civilian Lifesaving Award for having saved a resident from choking at a local restaurant. 

At 11 a.m. Saturday, July 27, Mayor John Hamilton will read a proclamation recognizing Cook Medical employees Stefania Massa and Alex Cuervo, Uptown Cafe employees Sarah Hopfer and Kate Rowe, and Indiana University MBA student Timothy Tan for their roles in saving the resident’s life, after which Bloomington Fire Chief Jason Moore will bestow Civilian Lifesaving Award medals.

The City will also recognize BFD Battalion Chief Neville Vaughan, who assisted in the rescue while off duty.

Community members are invited to attend the public ceremony in Council Chambers at the Showers City Hall building at 401 North Morton Street. 

The incident that brought the group together took place May 14 at the Uptown Cafe on Kirkwood Avenue.  When a diner began to choke, the six aforementioned individuals stepped in from their respective locations around the restaurant to assist in lifesaving efforts while the restaurant manager called 911.  When the Heimlich maneuver did not initially dislodge the object from the victim’s airway and she lost consciousness, the volunteers worked to lower her to the floor, maintain her open airway, administer chest compressions and abdominal thrusts, and, eventually, sweep the object from the victim’s airway.  Returning to consciousness, the victim was then transported to the hospital where she recovered from the incident.

“We are grateful to be living in a community where these valiant individuals — mostly unacquainted with one another — rose up and came together to do the right thing in an emergency,” said Hamilton.  “They saved a fellow resident’s life and have strengthened our sense of safety and trust in Bloomington, by showing that this is a place where we care for one another. Together with our increased fiscal investment in public safety, we can rest a little easier in Bloomington when events like this show us what our people are made of.”

Dating to the start of the Hamilton administration, the Civilian Lifesaving Award has been awarded on three previous occasions to five individuals.  

“It is a special honor to recognize residents who have accomplished something as remarkable as saving another person’s life by demonstrating what we strive for as professional first responders:  the courage to act,” said Fire Chief Jason Moore. “It is gratifying to be able to salute this group of strangers brought together by their courage, in the presence of the person their actions benefitted.” 

The BFD offers First Aid, CPR, and other lifesaving courses to individuals and groups by request.  Additionally, residents who are trained in hands-only CPR are encouraged to download the free PulsePoint Respond app in order to be notified through the Monroe County Dispatch Center when a cardiac arrest is happening nearby.