ATHENS, Tenn.--()--Every day, public safety officers risk their lives to protect citizens in their communities. To honor that commitment, Congress passed The Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor Act of 2001. The Medal is awarded by the President of the United States to public safety officers who have exhibited exceptional courage, regardless of personal safety, in order to save or protect human life.
“It is reassuring that there are men and women of such uncommon courage and selflessness protecting the lives of our citizens.”
This year two such deserving local heroes have been nominated to receive the Medal of Valor. American Medical Response Paramedic Fred Leslie and his partner, EMT Kristi Graham, both exhibited extraordinary valor last spring when they helped saved the life of a fellow public safety officer, Tennessee Highway Patrol Sgt. Lowell Russell.
Sgt. Russell was critically injured in a violent collision with a flatbed truck while parked in his cruiser on the westbound shoulder of Interstate 40 near Walker Springs Road in the early hours of March 10, 2012. Russell had pulled onto the shoulder of the highway with his emergency lights on when a tractor-trailer smashed into his cruiser. The truck driver had fallen asleep at the wheel.
Sgt. Russell likely would have died if not for the emergency personnel who came upon the scene within seconds of the crash. Leslie and Graham, who work for American Medical Response in McMinn County, were driving just behind the truck and immediately came to Russell's aid. Alongside two Knoxville Police Department officers who were also nearby when the crash occurred, they worked quickly to free the injured sergeant from the wreckage, pulling Russell free just as the patrol car burst into flames.
John Gentry, McMinn County Mayor, said, “It is reassuring that there are men and women of such uncommon courage and selflessness protecting the lives of our citizens.”
Mark Bruning, AMR President, said, "Words alone cannot adequately describe the sheer courage and magnitude of Fred Leslie’s actions along with those of his partner, Kristi Graham. These two individuals represent the very best of the EMS profession, and the responses and life-threatening situations our AMR caregivers respond to every day. I am proud to work with such high-caliber EMS professionals and am very grateful and humbled by this thoughtful nomination."
About American Medical Response (AMR)
AMR (www.amr.net) is America’s leading provider of medical transportation, operating in 40 states and the District of Columbia. AMR’s 17,000 paramedics, EMT’s and other professionals transport more than three million patients nationwide each year in critical, emergency and non-emergency situations. Operating a fleet of approximately 4,500 vehicles, AMR, a subsidiary of Emergency Medical Services Corporation, is headquartered in Greenwood Village, Colo.