Everyday members of the Marco Island Fire-Rescue Department risk their lives to help those in need and peril, and recently a number of them were recognized for their valiant efforts.
In September, MIFRD Chief Mike Murphy received a letter from Walter Kopka, chief of Collier County Emergency Medical Services, informing him that 16 members of his crew were being honored with a Phoenix Award by the Collier County Bureau of Emergency Services. The Phoenix Award recognizes a fire fighter, paramedic or EMT who has successfully resuscitated a cardiac arrest patient.
Among those receiving the award at a November awards ceremony was 25-year MIFRD veteran Battalion Chief Jeff Kutzke, who was part of a team that performed a successful resuscitation while transporting a man to the hospital whose chest pains took a turn for the worst. “He was having chest pains and wasn’t feeling well,” remembers Kutzke. “We determined he needed to go to the hospital, and during transport, he went into cardiac arrest. We were able to resuscitate him, and he was at the awards ceremony.”
Other MIFRD members receiving Phoenix Awards were: • Chris Bowden • Scott Cory (2) • Anthony Gordon (2) • Steve Hagmann • Oscar Hernandez
• Paul MacMillan • Gatta Munier • Chief Mike Murphy • Patrick O’Gorman • Hafid Oliver • Jim Pope • Nelson Ramirez • Scott Schultz • Ken Stenbeck (2) • Nick Varro
According to Kutzke, additional MIFRD members will be recognized with Phoenix Awards in another announcement on Wednesday, Dec. 3.
Also in November, MIFRD Captain Tom Bogan and Collier County Fire Fighter/Paramedic Lt. Isabelle “Izzy” Favier were recognized by the Naples Greater Chamber of Commerce with “Distinguished Service Awards.”
“I was honored and humbled by the award,” Bogan says. He was nominated by Chief Murphy for the role he played in developing the marine program for MIFRD and Collier County. He spent five years researching and developing the program, which led to the department’s procurement of its new high-tech fire-rescue vessel.
In an ending befitting a movie, Bogan also was among the first to be a part of a rescue on the new vessel last summer. “We had a call for a capsized boat about 10 miles offshore,” he recounts. “The weather conditions were really bad and nightfall was approaching. There were five people in the water with no lifejackets.”
Civil Air Patrol was able to locate the boat and provided the GPS coordinates to Bogan and members of the MIFRD on the vessel, who found the people floating on what little remained of the boat. “When you go through the whole process from researching the vessel to rescue, that is pretty cool,” Bogan says. “Really, when you putyour hand out and grab the arm of a 14-year-old boy to get him out of the water, all I needed was his smile to know it was worth it. Right then and there, I was good.”
Bogan also gives credit for the rescue to the Marco Island City Council who approved the money to fund the new vessel: “City Council are heroes in this too. We wouldn’t have had the boat if they hadn’t approved it. I told them this. I said, ‘Did you realize that this decision made it possible for this family to be home on Christmas Eve this year?’ It started right there, and they made an awesome decision.”
Bogan has been with MIFRD for 24 years, and was a volunteer fire fighter prior to that. He credits his father’s work as a volunteer fighter in New Jersey for inspiring him to pursue the same field. He and wife, Kathy, have been married for 34 years, and they have two children: Brielle, 33, who is married to Jason Frank, and Tommy, 30, who is married to Lauren Bogan.
While Favier is an employee of Collier County Emergency Services, she is a member of the MIFRD family, where she works 90 percent of the time as part of the county’s advanced life support (ALS) exchange program. The Marco Island resident is the only female fire fighter/paramedic currently part of the MIRFRD engine company.
She was nominated for the chamber award by her Collier County supervisors: Batallion Chief Michele Williamson, Steve Rocky, Frank Millot and Bill Petlinski.
“They told me that I do a lot, and it is time to be recognized for what I do,” Favier notes. “I was shocked, honored, humbled. I do not usually go around and say, ‘look at me, look at me.’ I was really an honor, and it really touched me that they thought of me. It was pretty awesome.”
Favier came to the U.S. from France in 1985. Back home, she working in a hospital setting as a physical therapist, but her diploma was not recognized in the U.S. so she focused on raising her family and working in the restaurant industry.
In 2000, she turned her eye back to her first love: medicine. She began working with Collier County EMS in June 2000, became a medic in 2003 and completed fire school in 2006.
Clearly, the apple did not fall far from the tree because both of her children — both born and raised on Marco Island — have pursued similar paths. Her daughter, 24, is an ER nurse, and her son, 21, is a fire fighter/paramedic as well.
“It is not just a job,” Favier says of her work, “but a career and a passion.”