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The Ontario Medal for Firefighter Bravery

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The Ontario Medal for Firefighter Bravery

The Ontario Medal for Firefighter Bravery was created in 1976 and is awarded annually to honour firefighters who have gone above and beyond to protect and serve their community.

Firefighter Jim Rose of the Sarnia Fire Rescue Services

A leisurely cruise turned into a life-threatening experience for a man and his dog in late summer 2016. The man had been sailing his twin-engine cabin cruiser when the winds of lower Lake Huron turned fierce, and six-foot waves pounded the shoreline.

Stranded in rough waters 800 metres from shore and taking on water, the man and his dog abandoned the cabin cruiser aboard an inflatable boat. However, the boat had a faulty outboard motor and capsized within minutes, throwing the man and his 100-pound dog into the rough water.

Firefighter Jim Rose was one of a crew of four that responded to reports of a marine vessel in distress. A fire service rescue boat had also been dispatched but the severe weather conditions were slowing its progress. After assessing the gravity of the situation, the captain gave the go ahead to attempt a rescue.

The firefighters were using a personal water craft (PWC) to make the rescue. With high waves hitting the shoreline, the crew struggled to lower the PWC into the water, almost being pinned between the vessel and its launch vehicle. Exhausted, the crew arrived at the scene. Firefighter Rose jumped into the choppy waters and placed a floating rescue sling around the victim. Much to his surprise, the dog emerged from under the water. Firefighter Rose grabbed the PWC with one hand, holding onto the victim with his other hand. The jet wash from the PWC was too much and he was forced to let go of the craft.

Handing the dog leash to the driver of the PWC, Firefighter Rose started swimming toward the shore with the victim. The inflatable boat and motor crashed to the shore just behind them. The man was treated for shock and hypothermia, but both he and his dog recovered thanks to the persistence and courageous actions of Firefighter Jim Rose. 

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