By Coastal Breeze News Staff
Members of the Marco Island Fire Rescue Foundation came together on September 7th at Mutual of Omaha Bank to learn of the first recipient of the annual Galahad Award. The award, which is meant to honor acts of courage and compassion in an emergency situation, was presented by the Marco Island Fire Rescue Foundation, Mutual of Omaha Bank and Coastal Breeze News.
And the 2012 Recipient of the Galahad Award is… Joshua Erickson. Erickson is a former Marco Island resident, a current employee of Dreamlander Tours, and now a resident of Goodland. He has displayed behavior worthy of the Galahad Award on three separate occasions in the last year. To honor his acts, City Councilman Jerry Gibson, Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala, Fire Rescue Chief Michael Murphy, Fire Rescue Foundation President Dianna Dohm and Coastal Breeze Publisher Val Simon joined members of the Marco Island community to celebrate Erickson’s heroic acts.
Dianna Dohm, spoke to the full house at Mutual of Omaha’s Community Room, explaining the award’s title. “I know what you’re saying. What do we mean by Galahad Award? A little history… Sir Galahad was the bravest, purest and most noble of all the Knights of King Arthur’s legendary Round Table. He did not shy away from danger; he confronted it head on. He rescued those in trouble and he was modest about what he accomplished.”
Fire Rescue Chief Michael Murphy announced the first recipient of the Galahad Award. “To further enhance the importance of this award’s name, Florida Fire Chiefs have an organization called the Round Table,” he explained. “It’s Fire Chiefs who have been recognized by their peers to have been the elite or the best of the best; who have done something to help the organization and their community. It is a secondary honor that you’ve named it after one of the Knights of the Round table and I appreciate that.”
Before introducing Erickson as the recipient, Chief Murphy described his courageous actions. The first incident involved a man who attempted to dive into the the shallow waters along Marco’s beach. “We in the services know how critical that can be with neck injuries and paralysis that results from that,” explained Murphy. The man’s terrified wife confronted Erickson as he was also on the beach that day. She said her husband could not feel his fingers or his toes. Erickson immediately took charge of the situation. He asked the wife to call 911 and ran to help the man still in the water and stabilized the man’s neck with his hands, allowing him to float in the water without causing more possible injuries. He stayed with the man until Emergency Services arrived. “When the crews turned around to get the individual’s name… Gone,” added Murphy.
A few weeks later, Erickson was on the beach again when a young boy ran up to him asking for help. The boy said that a girl at a nearby timeshare was drowning in the pool. He ran to the scene and found the girl, unconscious, lying on the side of the pool. Again, he took control of the scene. Assessing the situation, Erickson stabilized the little girl, turning her to the side and clearing her airway as she vomited up water. Erickson stayed until rescue crews arrived. “When the rescue crews turned around… Gone.”
The third incident happened while out on a wave runner, Erickson was flagged down by a man whose female companion crashed her wave runner deep into the mangroves and was injured. Erickson contacted EMS but the location was a very shallow and narrow waterway making it impossible for EMS boats to get to the woman. Erickson brought the wave runner he was on into the area where medical personnel placed her on a board in the water and an EMT sat on the back of the wave runner, holding the top of the board. Erickson slowly maneuvered the wave runner out of the shallow channel where she was placed on the boat and taken away.
“He’s one of us,” continued Murphy. “He’s a person who’s in our community and involved with our community and he’s a person who’s concerned about our community and the people who live here. I had the opportunity to speak to this young man’s father today and I can tell you that the individual’s father is an example by which this young man has followed. We should be proud of not only him, but his family.”
Accepting the award, Erickson addressed the community. “To be honest, it really did take a lot of convincing to get me here tonight. In my opinion, the real Galahad Award winners are the men and women of our police, our fire rescue and our EMS Services. These are the people who, on a daily basis, demonstrate selfless acts while serving our fellow man. I would like to thank these individuals who are here and all over the country.”
Erickson humbly stated, “I feel as though my actions were not necessarily worthy of such a ceremony. I was simply doing what I do every day. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time for that right individual who needed another human to help them.” The entire room stood in applause for Erickson as he finished his speech.
Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala rose to make a few closing remarks. “I want to say, I really feel blessed to be in your presence. You are just a dynamite hero. It really feels good to meet you, know your dad and I know we’ll see lots and lots of you because you’re a winning guy!”
Congratulations to Joshua Erickson, the Inaugural Recipient of the Galahad Award.
Watch the award ceremony live at marcoislandcommunitytelevision.com.