Arlington Chamber celebrates public-safety exceptionalism

A team of personnel from the Arlington County Police Department and Arlington Emergency Communications Center was honored for working to save the life of a Yorktown High School student. The award was part of the annual Valor Awards program of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce. (Arlington Chamber of Commerce)

Arlington Police Officer Charles Young was returning to his home in Maryland on an August day in 2018 when, traveling in Prince George’s County, he came upon an overturned vehicle on fire just off the roadway.

His training immediately kicked in: Officer Young directed a passer-by to call 9-1-1, then approached the vehicle, broke out a window, located the unresponsive driver, removed him from the vehicle and dragged him to safety.

But there was a passenger in the vehicle, and – even though the vehicle was engulfed in flames by this point – Officer Young cut him out of his seatbelt and pulled him to safety.

For his efforts, Officer Young was honored with the Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s Valor with Life-Saving Award – its highest public-safety accolade – at the annual Valor Awards ceremony, held June 18.

“Without hesitation, he jumped into action to save two civilians in danger while putting his own life at risk,” the citation for Officer Young noted. “During the incident, he remained calm and communicated with both passengers while they were pleading to be saved.”

The incident for which Officer Young was honored was not the only occasion over the past year in which Arlington public-safety personnel went above and beyond the call of duty to save lives.

On June 22, 2018, Arlington fire units were dispatched to the Columbia Island marina, where a vehicle had plunged into the water and a person was trapped inside.

Firefighters Joseph Temarantz and Brent Beasock donned protective equipment and immediately entered the water. Reaching the occupant, they were able to pull him out of the submerged vehicle and get him to shore, where paramedics were waiting.

“Although their water-rescue training does not include ‘dive’-style calls, crews instinctively performed at an exceptionally high level,” the citation noted.

For their efforts, Firefighters Temarantz and Beasock were presented with the Chamber’s Life-Saving Award.

Earlier this year – Jan. 25, 2019 – the county’s Emergency Communications Center received a 9-1-1 call that a student had collapsed at Yorktown High School, setting in motion a coordinated life-saving effort.

Ahrar “Sid” Siddiqui, a dispatcher and assistant supervisor at the Emergency Communications Center, took the initial phone call and provided instructions to school staff while also dispatching medical personnel to the scene.

At the same time, Arlington Police Detective Timothy Koch, a school-resource officer, was alerted to the emergency via radio and ran to the classroom with the school nurse, where they found the 15-year-old student unresponsive and without a pulse.

Officer Tania Velez, who had been on patrol nearby, arrived on scene and took over chest compressions from Koch until medics arrived. They used a defibrillator to shock the patient, who regained a pulse and ultimately recovered.

It was later determined that the student suffered from a previously undiagnosed medical condition that led to cardiac arrest.

For their efforts, Detective Koch, ECC assistant supervisor Siddiqui and Officer Velez were honored with the Life-Saving Award.

“The team effort . . . led to saving a young student’s life due to their rapid intervention,” the citation noted, honoring the “dedicated officers who make a difference every day for the citizens of Arlington County.”

Honored with Meritorious Service Awards at the breakfast event:

• Arlington Emergency Communications Technician III Anthony Chew was saluted for his efforts connected to a November 2018 incident in which he worked to engage a telephone caller who had killed his wife in a local hotel room. Over the course of the 17-minute conversation, police were able to respond and take the suspect into custody without additional incident.

Chew “remained calm throughout the call, and was able to de-escalate the excitement of the caller,” the citation noted. His “professional demeanor and adherence to his training ensured that the incident was conducted in a manner that brought no harm to the subject or the responding officers.”

• Arlington Police Detective Youssef Ouzidane was honored for his work to investigate a cocaine-distribution network in the local area. Ultimately, both the distributor and the suppliers agreed to plead guilty to federal drug-trafficking charges, and the investigation has widened nationally.

“This case is an exceptional example of Detective Ouzidane’s efforts – [he] exhausted all available investigative means,” the citation noted.

• Arlington Sheriff’s Maj. Bruce Black, who began his career in 1984 and has most recently been director of judicial services, overseeing security in the Arlington courthouse and several departments in the sheriff’s office.

“He is looked upon as a leader in the corrections field, and is often contacted by other correctional facilities and sheriff’s offices for advice and guidance,” the citation noted.

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