fire division

Local heroes honored for their courage and caring

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Local heroes were recognized Friday evening for saving accident victims, preventing a child from drowning, and stopping a man planning to jump from an overpass. “This is a celebration of what we do right in Wood County,” said State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green. Wood County has been doing it right for 30 years now by handing out annual Black Swamp Humanitarian Awards. So far, 434 heroes have been recognized. Following is a list of the people honored this year for their heroic acts. Good Samaritan: Tom Wilhelm, Anthony Soto, Larry Miller Jr. and Brian Bonecutter On July 30, Weston EMS was dispatched along with Milton Township Fire Department to an injury accident on Milton Road, with a possible ejection. When EMS arrived on the scene, the crew was greeted by four men who were standing by the cornfield, with a massive debris field seen all over the road. One of the men had called 911 and then the four cleared a spot in the cornfield so the EMS would have clear access to the patient. They led the EMS crew to the patient, who was in the cornfield about 50 feet from the overturned vehicle. The patient was critically injured, alert, but disoriented, and told EMS that she was impaired. She had numerous lacerations, abrasions which were actively bleeding, and a possible arm fracture. Because of her condition, it was difficult to know if she might have had a head injury and other injuries. The four men – Tom Wilhelm, Anthony Soto, Brian Bonecutter and Larry Miller – assisted the EMS with equipment, immobilizing the patient and transferring her to the squad – all prior to the fire department’s arrival on the scene. The accident occurred during Wood County Fair week, when fire and EMS departments are often short-handed. If the men hadn’t stopped and helped, the outcome for the 25-year-old woman might have been much different, EMS Chief Kathy Heyman said. The patient was transported on Life Flight and was expected to make a complete recovery. Good Samaritan: Joe Mettler Jordan Rizziello, then a 16-year-old Otsego student, was on Route 235 when something caused him to swerve and go off the road. He over-corrected and spun into the 12-foot deep ditch. Joe Mettler was headed down the same road, less than a minute later, and noticed something down in the…

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BG Board of Education studying school safety options

By JAN LARSON McLBAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City School officials met this week to discuss how to keep students and staff safe. A special meeting was held Tuesday afternoon, with the board going into executive session to discuss safety issues. In addition to the board and superintendent, Police Chief Tony Hetrick, Fire Chief Bill Moorman, plus some teachers and administration members were included in the discussion. “We’re looking at people who are on the ground floor of the issue,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said. “We want to try to be proactive,” he said. “It’s not something you can put on a shelf and forget about.” Because the discussion took place in executive session, Scruci did not reveal any specific details of the safety plans being considered. “This is going to be an ongoing situation,” he said. “We’re going to continue to look for ways to improve safety.” The district plans to explore grant opportunities that will pay for safety measures, rather than attempting a levy for safety expenses. However, grant funding has its limitations. “The problem with grant money is sometimes it’s only for one year,” Scruci said. The district is studying changes to its buildings as well as personnel for safety. “We will explore every part of our partnership with police to improve the safety,” he said. As the district had the new middle school designed and constructed, new safety measures were put into place. “We looked at the original designs and we made some changes to improve safety,” Scruci said. For example, the locker bays in the new addition do not stick out into the hallway, but rather are straight down the hallways. The new doors to the bus area are solid, not glass. And ballistic shields will soon be installed on the cafeteria windows. “We did things intentionally with the design,” he said. As with the other school buildings, “The Boots” will be installed on each doorway to keep out intruders. Scruci said the district will continue discussing increased safety measures with the police and fire divisions. “We’re fortunate to live in a supportive city.” “Safety is one of those things that’s going to be an ongoing conversation,” Scruci said.


Fire damages BG home; neighbors try to help with garden hoses

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Lara Martin-Lengel watched as firefighters gathered in the front yard of her home after putting out the fire inside at 1110 Blue Jay this afternoon. “I never thought anything like this could ever possibly happen,” she said as she stood across the street. The house suffered serious damage, but most importantly, Martin-Lengel’s daughter who lived in the house was not home at the time. “Thank God she wasn’t home,” Lengel said of Daniella Fedek-Lengel. The fire call came in around 2 p.m., when neighbors noticed the smoke. Some neighbors attempted to put out the blaze with a garden hose. “When we got here, they were using garden hoses, but the fire was too advanced for them to do anything,” Bowling Green Fire Chief Bill Moorman said. Kyle Hammersmith was passing by the Wood County Fairgrounds when he saw smoke billowing from the scene. He followed the smoke and saw neighbors trying to help. “People were trying to go at the deck, and it was majorly involved in flames,” Hammersmith said. When fire and police arrived on the scene, another neighbor Doug Krieger notified them that a dog also lived in the house. It was later determined the dog was safe with Fedek-Lengel. As she watched from across the street, Martin-Lengel agonized over how the fire might have started. She and her husband, Scott, had been very safety conscious and had a fire safety inspection conducted on the house last December. Though it was too soon to determine the cause of the blaze, Moorman said the fire started in the back of the house, with the attic suffering the most damage. Once the fire was extinguished, crews continued to make sure there were no other hot spots in the house. Once outside, the firefighters shed some of their heavier gear. The chief said the temperatures in the upper 80s take a toll on firefighters. “No day’s a good day to be fighting fire, but when it’s in the 80s, it really taxes the guys,” Moorman said. In addition to Bowling Green Fire Division, Middleton Township Fire Department and Medic 120 also responded to the blaze.  


Pemberville woman driving by alerts family to house fire

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Darla Baker’s desire to take the leisurely drive home Monday evening was fortuitous for a family unaware that their house was on fire. “I don’t have to hurry home,” she remembered thinking as she drove from Perrysburg to her home outside Pemberville. “I’ll take these country roads.” As she drove down Garling Road in Troy Township, she noticed some smoke from behind a house. “I thought they were cooking outside,” Baker said this morning. “But then I thought – that looks a little bit more than a smoking grill.” She took a closer look, and saw the siding on the house was melting. She hadn’t been paying attention to the road signs, so she had to drive to the end of the road to see that it was Garling Road. She called 911 and drove back to the house. Baker, who recently had foot surgery, parked in a neighbor’s driveway and went to rouse the residents where the fire was growing. “I can’t run, so I was hobbling over,” she said. “I beat on the front door and rang the doorbell.” The owner, Steven Kern came to the door, and started trying to put out to fire with a garden hose. That was a futile effort. By that time the neighbors came over and together they got Kern’s wife, Jennifer out of the house in her motorized wheelchair. “You could hear sizzling,” Baker said of the expanding fire. “Then stuff started exploding.” Initially, she thought it might have been a gas grill tank exploding, but it turned out to be multiple oxygen tanks in the home. “It was crazy,” she said. Baker said she asked Kern if they had been grilling out, thinking it possibly caught the house on fire. Kern said they hadn’t been, but that they had been having electrical issues with an addition put onto the home. Both Steven and Jennifer have physical disabilities. “They put the addition on so it was handicapped accessible,” Baker said. One dog was rescued from the home, but two dogs and three cats were lost in the fire. Baker said Jennifer Kern passed out in the neighbor’s driveway, and was transported to a Toledo area hospital. “The fire department got there lickety split,” Baker said of the response by Troy Township Fire Department, which quickly set up a water relay. Neighboring departments joined…


First responders honored for giving opiate addicts second, third and more chances

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Those being honored Monday in the war against opiate abuse weren’t front and center. As usual, they were gathered far from the podium. “The first responders are all in the back of the room,” Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson said. “Frankly that’s where they would prefer to be. They would much rather be out doing their jobs.” Those are the jobs they were being honored for on Monday – saving people from opiate overdoses. “They step into circumstances that we can’t imagine,” Dobson said. “They stand between us and danger in a very real sense on a daily basis.” EMS and law enforcement are being recognized across Ohio this week for saving people who overdose on opiates. In the Wood County Courthouse Atrium, the first responders were thanked by the second and third responders in the opiate crisis. To show appreciation in Wood County, that meant lunches will be delivered to fire and police stations throughout the week by Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “This is basically to say ‘thank you.’ We know it’s difficult work,” said Milan Karna, with the Wood County Prevention Coalition. A video was played, showing people who had been saved by first responders using narcan to revive them after overdoses. The faces thanked the first responders for not giving up on them – even if they had to respond to the same person for multiple overdoses. Tom Clemons, WCADAMHS director, used Dobson’s terminology of this war on opiates creating “refugees” in need of care. “It takes all of us working together on this,” Clemons said. On the front lines of this war are EMS, law enforcement, children’s services, and hospitals. “It is a widely recognized fact that a lot of first responders are putting themselves at risk,” with fentanyl being very dangerous to those treating overdose victims. But the use of narcan is giving opiate addicts another chance at life, Clemons said. “We’re seeing more and more people’s lives saved,” he said. “That’s where recovery begins. Treatment does work and people recover.” Evidence of that is seen with the county’s new Addiction Response Collaboration program through Dobson’s office. Since its inception about four months ago, the program has worked with 35 opiate addicts in Wood County. Of those, seven people have been sober for three…


BG firefighter and wife recognized for saving man’s life

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   An off-duty Bowling Green firefighter and his wife were given standing ovations in the City Council chambers Monday evening, for saving a man’s life. Steve and Dawn Tyda stopped a man from jumping off the East Wooster overpass at Interstate 75 last month. The Tydas were on their way home from Columbus, when they pulled off I-75 around 11 p.m. They saw a man standing on the overpass, facing the highway. Steve Tyda turned the vehicle around and went back to the overpass and pulled up next to the man. Dawn Tyda asked the man if he was OK. The man reportedly said, “I’ll be OK in about four seconds when I jump.” “Tyda’s years of service as a firefighter and a paramedic told him he needed to act quickly,” Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said as he retold the story during the council meeting. So Dawn Tyda offered to talk or pray with the man, who turned back to the highway below and leaned over the side. Meanwhile Steve Tyda came up behind the man and tackled him to keep him from going over onto I-75 below. Tyda held him down until police arrived. The man, a 49-year-old Bowling Green resident, was taken to Wood County Hospital where he was checked out by Behavioral Connections. He was transported to Flower Hospital in Sylvania for evaluation. Fawcett commended Steve Tyda for his “selfless and valorous act.” He presented the firefighter with a distinguished service award, for taking a substantial risk to himself to save another person despite the fact Tyda was off-duty at the time. Mayor Dick Edwards also presented a commendation to Dawn Tyda for her efforts in saving the man’s life. “She distinguished herself from the average citizen,” Edwards said. Dawn Tyda put herself at great risk, “buying valuable time,” the mayor said. “Her actions resulted in saving a life.” After the commendations were presented, the mayor noted the number of city firefighters in the council chambers and overflowing into the hallway Monday evening. “Something like this speaks volumes,” Edwards said, pointing out the value of co-workers wanting to be present for the awards. “I was really pleased to see so many of them here.” Also at Monday’s meeting, Edwards announced that the city made it through the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations relatively unscathed. Police Chief Tony Hetrick had reported…


Moorman takes roundabout walkabout to get to BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A few words out of Bowling Green Fire Chief Bill Moorman, and even his newest “mates” realize he was not born and bred in Northwest Ohio. But few probably know the long winding route that Moorman took from his homeland in Australia to the flatlands of Ohio. Moorman stretched the traditional Australian “walkabout” across several continents and years before ending up in Bowling Green. “It’s almost like a rite of passage for an Australian. You put a backpack on and travel,” he said. For most, though, the trek lasts six months or so. “For me, it’s been 30 years,” the fire chief said. At age 25, Moorman and his brother decided they needed to see the world beyond the borders of their homeland. “Let’s put a backpack on and travel the world,” Moorman said. “So we did that for a couple years.” The brothers wandered their way through Malaysia, Israel, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, England, Greece and several other European nations. They stayed at youth hostels or camped along the side of roads. They worked odd jobs along the way, like toiling at a banana plantation in Israel. “You can get work – though it might not be glamorous,” he said. As they drifted, Moorman said they would encounter other travelers who would have suggestions for the next leg of their journey. In Egypt, the pair rented bicycles and peddled on pathways out to the Valley of the Kings. “Going through the Egypt desert on bicycles was interesting,” he said. They sailed up the Nile, climbed Mount Sinai and camped there for a night. The brothers explored the Greek Islands, and spent a month touring Turkey, traveling as far as the Russian border. At some point, Moorman and his brother split ways, with his brother heading to England and Moorman staying to work on a tour yacht and as a scuba guide. Eventually, Moorman found himself in Germany during Oktoberfest. “You have no idea what Oktoberfest is until you go to one in Germany,” he said. It was there that he met an American girl, which led to the next leg of his travels to the U.S. Moorman had grown up at the base of the second highest mountain in Australia, so when he found out that the American girl lived in Walnut Hills in Walbridge, he envisioned rolling hills covered with walnut…