London-area paramedics receive provincial bravery medal

Four of the five Middlesex London Paramedic Service members to receive the Ontario Medal for Paramedic Bravery. Photo provided.

Five paramedics with the Middlesex-London Paramedic Service who risked their lives to save others have received a newly created provincial medal for their heroic actions.

Deputy Chief Adam Bennett, Superintendent Michael Hurst, and paramedics Philip Adams, David Jeffries, and Josh Hill were among ten people to be presented the inaugural Ontario Medal for Paramedic Bravery.

The Ontario Medal for Paramedic Bravery. Photo courtesy of Middlesex London Paramedic Service.

The Ontario Medal for Paramedic Bravery. Photo courtesy of Middlesex London Paramedic Service.

The medals were handed out in a ceremony held at Queen’s Park Wednesday evening.

“While it is often said we live in an uncertain time, few Ontarians actually experience uncertainty in their everyday working lives in quite the way that paramedics do. Before their shifts begin, they don’t know where they will be dispatched, under what circumstances, or how they will be asked to help,” said Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell, who handed out the medals alongside Deputy Premier Sylvia Jones. “On behalf of a very grateful province, I thank this year’s exceptional award recipients for their commitment, their incredible courage, and their dedicated service.”

The medal is presented to paramedics who have demonstrated great courage through individual acts of extraordinary selflessness and outstanding bravery. This is the first year the award has been elevated to a provincial honour medal.

Adams and Jeffries received the honour for their handling of the explosion in Old East Village on August 14, 2019. Emergency services were called to the scene after a vehicle, which had been reportedly driving the wrong way on Queens Avenue, crashed into a home at 450 Woodman Ave., severing a gas line leading to a massive explosion. The blast sent debris flying and injured seven people.

“Adams and Jeffries stayed cool under pressure to triage, treat, and transport the police and fire personnel injured from the blast,” the province said. “As a result of their heroic actions, all six first responders and one civilian received medical attention for their injuries and survived.”

Bennett, Hill, and Hurst were awarded their medals for bravery during the fatal partial building collapse in west London on December 11, 2020. A section of the top floor of the four-storey condominium at 555 Teeple Terrace caved in around noon that day, crashing through the lower levels of the structure and taking out the exterior wall. Two construction workers were killed and five others were hurt.

“Despite the risk of the building further collapsing, the three paramedics entered the area without hesitation,” according to the province. “Deputy Chief Bennett and Superintendent Hurst assessed the trapped workers and coordinated their extraction and transportation, where possible. Paramedic Hill tried to stabilize another worker who had been trapped under rubble for several hours, helping to extricate and care for him during transport to the hospital.”

The five other paramedics to receive the Ontario Medal for Paramedic Bravery were from Kawartha Lakes, Frontenac, Hamilton, and Ottawa. The medals were handed out to coincide with Paramedic Services Week, which runs from May 21 to 27.