By David San Miguel
Directorate of Communications and Public Affairs
Fort Rucker, Alabama

FORT A.P. HILL, Va. -Recognized for their quick thinking and heroic efforts in response to a traffic accident, two installation firefighters here were presented the U.S. Army Guardian Safety Award during a special awards ceremony held May 28 at the garrison post headquarters.
Fire Medics Peter M. Orioles and Dana A. Nichols were presented the awards by Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Farnsworth, director of Army Safety and commanding general, U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center.

The Guardian Safety Award is presented to personnel who, through extraordinary actions or skills, react to an emergency event or an imminently dangerous situation, thereby eliminating or minimizing loss, such as injury to personnel or damage to military property.

On Oct. 9, 2014, Nichols was taking Orioles through ambulance driver familiarization training of the local medical treatment facilities. It was only Orioles' third day on the job and his teammate wanted to ensure a proper indoctrination into the fire department.

At around 4 p.m., the two fire medics were en route to the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center in Spotsylvania County when they came upon a traffic accident at an intersection.

"We pulled up behind a tractor trailer and thought we were waiting for a school bus," Nichols said. "When we pulled up a little further, we saw a motorcycle lying on its side with two people kneeling next to the downed rider. That's when it clicked for us. The accident had just occurred."

Instinctively, the two fire medics "hit the lights and went to work."

According to the award narrative, Orioles and Nichols secured the intersection, stabilized the injured rider and notified the county EMS/fire dispatcher of the status and ongoing patient treatment and remained on the scene until the ambulance crew arrived and took over patient care and transportation to the local trauma center.

"Despite being out of service on an unrelated mission, Firefighters Orioles and Nichols acted without hesitation when they came upon an injured motorcyclist," said Lt. Col. David A. Meyer, garrison commander, U.S. Army Garrison, Fort A.P. Hill. "While remarkable, their actions are a great example of the dedication and selflessness demonstrated by the entire Fort A.P. Hill Fire Department every day."

Deputy Fire Chief Thomas E. Acacia echoed those sentiments.

"Firefighters Orioles and Nichols exemplify dedication to their profession," he said. "These two outstanding individuals uphold the Army values of duty, honor and country and I am extremely proud to work with them and the rest of this department."

Farnsworth added that the success of the safety program, as with any Army program, hinges on individuals like Orioles and Nichols who step out of their comfort zone, take charge of the situation and exercise those skillsets they've been specifically trained to do.

"That accident victim is alive today because of their decision to act," he said. "What may have ended in tragedy had been prevented and the motorcycle rider gets yet another chance to ride again."

"It is an honor to receive the U.S. Army Guardian Safety Award," Orioles said. "It not only represents the Army's safety program in the workplace, but also the dedication of the men and women of Fort A.P. Hill and its directorates of ongoing safety success."

(Michael Meisberger with the U.S. Army Garrison Public Affairs Office at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, contributed to this article)