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Posted on: September 20, 2023

Responders receive Award of Merit for Heroic Actions

Firefighter Joseph Navarro

LFD Firefighter Joseph Navarro, and SCFD Captain Braden Steckel received an Award of Merit for Heroic Actions at the Seward County Commission Meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 19. Captain Steckel and Firefighter Navarro were presented awards for their act of service by SCFD Chief Barkley and LFD Chief Kirk.

Chief Barkley had this to say about the honors awarded:
"An award of merit is presented to an employee of the Seward County Fire Department who performs an unusual skill, task, or act exceptionally well in the course of mitigating an emergency incident.  
In the morning hours of Friday September 1, 2023, the Liberal/Seward County Communications Center alerted public safety agencies of a report of three victims down unresponsive inside a tank trailer of a semi located at the Red Barn Truck Wash at 1200 E Pancake Boulevard. Due to the nature of the incident, firefighters from County Fire Station in Liberal also responded to aid the Liberal Fire Department with manpower.  
First arriving fire department unit, Captain Braden Steckel quickly evaluated the scene, donning a self-contained breathing apparatus and air monitor, Captain Steckel with the assistance of Sheriff's Deputy Carrillo entered the tank trailer and located the three victims inside. A second rescuer, Liberal City Firefighter Joseph Navarro, joined Captain Steckel inside the tank trailer.  
Working together, Captain Steckel and Firefighter Navarro prepared and assisted the team outside the tank with the removal of victims from the hazardous environment. One by one, each victim was removed from the tank trailer and the team outside worked to get each victim down to awaiting EMS personnel for treatment and transport to Southwest Medical Center.  
As with normal operations regarding technical rescues in hazardous environments such as this, Captain Steckel and Firefighter Navarro where taken to Southwest Medical Center for evaluation and observation as a precautionary measure. The manner of which this rescue operation took place can only be defined in my opinion as being preformed in a manner of excellence.  
Because of the quick actions and operations that took place at this incident, two of the victims survived and our now home with their families. The time frame of the entire rescue incident from alert to completion was less than 17 minutes. This is absolute testament to the unified professionalism and bravery at its finest within the public safety agencies within Seward County."

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