Applauding our Valley’s heroes | Opinion


Communities need to applaud heroes like Mahoning Township officers George Geise and Garon Fenstermaker, who escorted a Danville resident from a smoke-filled burning building, possibly saving her life late last month.

It takes a full roster of heroes — school board presidents, meal distribution volunteers, grant foundation financial contributors and everything in between — for a region and its towns to thrive.

First responders are among the most selfless of these heroes, risking their own safety to keep the peace, save those in danger and protect residents’ property.

Many times, they cannot know what to expect when a 911 operator dispatches them to the scene of an incident.

Recognizing what’s happening, what’s at stake and what needs to be done, then acting many times must happen in the blink of an eye.

The new body cameras Mahoning Township Police Department recently employed provided a unique perspective into the quick decision-making and calm demeanor displayed by Geise and Fenstermaker on May 28.

They entered a three-story apartment building at 1064 Mill St. to rescue the resident who was hanging out of a third-story window saying she couldn’t breathe due to the smoke.

Using flashlights once on the third floor, the officers located the woman and were able to escort her to the stairs and out of the building.

“We gotta go.” One also told her, “Take your time. Stay low,” as the trio navigated through smoke that was up to their waists.

At the bottom of the stairs, the woman — coughing and gasping for air — was handed off to medical personnel who administered oxygen to her.

The officers arrived at the fire scene at nearly 9 p.m. At the time, there were only a few first responders on scene. Fire trucks were just pulling up.

Fenstermaker also got a woman out of a first-floor apartment.

Within three minutes of their arrival, Geise and Fenstermaker made the decision to act and conducted the search and rescue, according to township Police Chief Fred Dyroff’s report.

Then, first responders worked and watched as — within 10 minutes, according to the chief’s report — the third floor of the building was fully engulfed in flames.

At last Monday’s Mahoning Township supervisors meeting, the officers were honored and the chief pinned Meritorious Award ribbons on their chests.

Dyroff and township officials made the right decision to shine a spotlight on Fenstermaker and Geise, who is a Point Township firefighter.

They are true heroes that deserve the community’s gratitude. They are role models — their actions, this story, can help recruit the community’s future first responders.

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by News Editor Eric Pehowic.

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