Valor Award Honors Three Firefighters

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Valor Award Honors Three Firefighters
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Firefighter Alex Kargbo, Captain Kevin Hokom, Engineer Matt Gritt


Source: Santa Barbara City Fire Department

The Santa Barbara City Fire Department recognized three firefighters on Thursday, October 4, 201,8 for a lifesaving rescue they made during the Montecito debris flow event earlier this year.  Fire Captain Kevin Hokom, Engineer Matt Gritt and Firefighter Alex Kargbo were searching for survivors during the debris flow emergency on the morning of January 9th this year. The crew was focused on a debris pile, searching with additional rescuers. Rescuers heard possible sounds and believed there was a potential victim in the pile of mud, rocks, trees, and damaged structures. Captain Hokom located the patient's leg and rescuers continued making access. Engineer Gritt was lifting a heavy portion of a garage wall up off the pile and then Captain Hokom and Firefighter Kargbo were able to free the young victim. Engineer Gritt took the young woman from Firefighter Kargbo and loaded her into the rescue stokes basket. Firefighter Kargbo, Engineer Gritt and several other rescuers carried her approximately one quarter mile through knee to chest high mud. She has subsequently made a full recovery.

Summer Corey, the young woman who was rescued that morning, will present the three firefighters with the Stephen J. Masto Valor Award.  The special ceremony will take place at Fire Station 1, 121 W. Carrillo St on Thursday, October 4, at 4 pm.

The Stephen J. Masto Award is awarded to members of the Santa Barbara City Fire Department for acts of courage, bravery and valor that are deemed above and beyond the call of duty. Firefighters have been previously honored with Valor awards. A newly designed Valor medal will be unveiled this year and will be the official Medal of Valor for the Fire Department and future recipients.

Stephen Joseph Masto was a Santa Barbara City Firefighter who died while he was working on the Camuesa Fire in the Los Padres National Forest August 27, 1999. His tragic loss is still felt by the fire department to this day.

[Photos courtesy of the Santa Barbara City Fire Department]

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