May 21—A giggling 5-year-old climbed into his father's arms Tuesday morning as more than 250 firefighters, family and friends gathered for the 26th annual EMS Week Kickoff Breakfast.
The boy, rescued from his burning Canton home earlier this month, and his parents were inside the North Canton Civic Center to see the firefighters credited with saving the child's life.
A Plain Township man also came to see the medics rewarded after they resuscitated him from a heart attack.
"Basically, I was dead and they brought me back to life," Domenico Dominijanni told the crowd. "My heart stopped. I can't thank them enough for what they've done. And I will never forget for the rest of my life."
The breakfast also honored a Washington Township resident and a passer-by who stepped in to give life-saving medical care to a motorcycle crash victim, and recognized a woman who worked tirelessly to spread information aimed at saving lives.
Mike Gallina, AultCare vice president of organizational development and community engagement, was the guest speaker at this year's breakfast, which is held each year to honor the Canton Fire Department and Stark County Firefighters Health Care Provider of the Year. A President's Award is also presented to an individual "for their dedication to the Stark County Firefighters Association and for their many accomplishments."
Sharon George became the Stark County Safe Communities coordinator in 2007 after serving with the Stark County Sheriff's Office since December 1998, according to Sheriff George T. Maier.
"She is well-known in the region for her diligence in providing educational materials and other resources to Stark County citizens, promoting traffic safety at many events throughout the county. Through Sharon's hard work and collaboration with other agencies, Stark County can boast a seat belt use rate of 95.9 percent, the highest in the state for 2018," the sheriff wrote in his recommendation for the President's Award.
The Life-Saving Award went to Pat Ryan and Shelda Johnston. Ryan lives near the location where a car crashed head-on with a motorcycle, and Johnston is a nurse/teacher who was passing by, according to the recommendation that resulted in the award.
The motorcyclist was severely injured, and Ryan and Johnston used Ryan's belt as a tourniquet on his left leg. Although doctors later had to remove the leg, Metro Life Flight personnel told medics the motorcyclist possibly would not have survived the crash without it.
Plain Township medics Matt DeCosta, Alex Hylton and Drew Simone received the EMS Care Provider of the Year Award for their response to a call involving a 68-year-old man initially complaining of chest pain. The victim's heart stopped but the advanced care the medics used enabled the patient to walk back into the fire station a week later to thank them, according to a letter from Chief Charles Shalenberger recommending the trio for the award.
Canton Firefighter/Medic Benjamin Lasure was awarded Paramedic of the Year for action he took when called May 6 to a burning house at 1923 Root Ave. NE.
Little Colton Grewell was still inside.
Neighbors and passersby alerted the boy's father who couldn't get through smoke and flames to reach the child despite repeated attempts. Arriving firefighter Jason Brown found the boy, used his own face mask to provide the child with air and passed him through a window to medics.
"This child had a weak pulse and agonal breaths," Chief Thomas Garra said. "... (Lasure's) command of the situation was communicated from officers at the scene and transport, and also from hospital personnel. His request for air transport while en route to Mercy Hospital directly led to a more timely transfer to Akron Children's Hospital. This level of professionalism was exemplary. Because of this quick thinking, the child in this story is sitting in this room with us today."
The boy spent four days in the hospital, his father Lee Grewell said Tuesday.
"He's been doing great. He's actually back to (being) himself," he said.
When asked what his son recalls from the fire, Grewell shook his head.
"All he remembers is waking up in the hospital. He didn't know how he got there or anything else," he said as the boy grinned and hugged him.