Embrun man receives Governor General Medal of Bravery 10353" * 5  r  130' * -& ALEXIA MARSILLO

as a firefighter. “I have had a lot of really interesting calls with the fire department, a lot of memorable ones and some very tragic ones,” he recalled. Although Smith has expe- rienced a lot throughout his nearly four-de- cade-long career and is acutely aware of the consequences of the job, such as PTSD, he chooses tomainly remember the good times. “I delivered one of my coworkers’ daughters,” he remembered. “That was great.” Once he got married and had two sons, he decided to pursue firefighting full-time, giving up his ambulance work to havemore time to spend with his family. Retired now, Smith and his wife of 35 years have spent some time travelling, visiting P.E.I twice this year. “My wife also has amile-long list of jobs for me to do,” he declared, tongue in cheek. Besides spending time with his family, Smith is still verymuch devoted to his work. He volunteers for the Salvation Army in their partnership with the Ottawa Fire Service, the Red Cross and Victim Services – sup- plying food and water to firefighters, first responders and vic- tims of larger fires. At the time of the spring flooding back in May, Smith and the other volunteers spent two weeks in Rockland and in Cumberland provi- dingmeals to those volunteering and those affected by the damage. During the ceremony at Rideau Hall on Thursday, November 23, Smith was among the 41 people who received a Decoration for Bravery from the Governor General. “It’s always humbling to be in the presence of so many wonderful people that go above and beyond,” Smith reminded. “I sometimes cannot fathomhow somany people do what they do, but a lot of the time you don’t even think about it, you just see that something needs to be done and you do it.” Smith and the other three civilian heroes of the December 5 fire were also previous- ly honored by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario with the Royal Canadian Humane Association. “This Governor General reco- gnition caught me by total surprise. I was not expecting to be honoredmyself,” said Smith. The Decorations for Bravery was created in 1972 to recognize people who risked their lives to try to save or protect the lives of others. The Medal of Bravery, which Smith received, more specifically recognizes acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances.

OnDecember 5, 2015, two children, twins, were trapped in a smoldering high-rise apartment on Caldwell avenue in Ottawa. On duty that day, fire chief Donald Smith didn’t hesitate a second. He ran into the blazing inferno along with three civilians and saved the two children. In recognition of his courage, Smith, who is now retired and lives in Embrun, was recently awarded a Medal of Bravery, along with the three civilians, fromCanada’s Governor General Julie Payette. The cere- mony was held at RideauHall onThursday, November 23. “It was definitely one of the highlights of my career,” said Smith, recounting the event. The children’s mother was locked outside of the unit. Smith and the three other men, Samson Agboegbulem, Samir Al-Rubaiy and Montell Russell, forced their way in- side, using a fire extinguisher to break down Pressed for time, Smith ran into the bur- ning building with no protective gear on. He recalls having to enter the unit four times before he was able to carry out one of the children, the other having already been res- cued by one of the other men. Once outside, Smith had to performCPR on the young girl, who had stopped breathing. By the end of it, however, the mother and her two children were all safe and sound. “It was a heck of a way to end my career. At that time, I only had five shifts left to work before I retired.” Retiring at 60 years old – a required rule as an operational fire person- nel due to the demands of the job – Smith had spent 36.5 years of his life as a firefighter, several of those as acting chief and three years as the official fire chief for theWestern District of the Ottawa Fire Department. “I chose to work until my very last day because I was enjoying what I was doing so much and having an awful lot of fun being with my crews,” he said. Smith spent a few years doing ambu- lance work part-time, while also working the door. Having to retreat several times from the apartment due to the amount of smoke, the men persisted and kept returning inside the unit in search of the children.

“I chose to work until my very last day because I was enjoying what I was doing so much.”

Un ancien chef de pompiers d’Ottawa, Donald Smith, qui vit à Embrun, a reçu laMédaille de la bravoure de la gouverneure générale du Canada, Julie Payette, lors d’une cérémonie à Rideau Hall, le jeudi 23 novembre, pour avoir sauvé deux enfants d’un appartement en flammes en décembre 2015. Ici, on peut reconnaître M. Smith avec la gouverneure générale. —photo Sgt Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall, OSGG


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