22 Calgarians honoured for selfless heroics, from pulling people from burning cars to saving a drowning dog

Margaret Bell says she gets goosebumps thinking about how she hauled a drowning man out of the Glenmore Reservoir last summer. She's just one of the 22 Calgarians being recognized by the fire department for going above and beyond in emergency situations.

Calgary Fire Department's annual Beyond the Call awards recognize brave locals

Margaret Bell was out for a walk along the Glenmore Reservoir one morning last August she spotted what appeared to be a beaver bobbing in the water — and realized it was a person. (Silvana Benolich/CBC)

Twenty-two people are being recognized for selfless heroics by the Calgary Fire Department, among them a 55-year-old woman who hauled a drowning man out of the Glenmore Reservoir last summer.

Margaret Bell was out for a walk on the morning of Aug. 1, 2017, when she noticed a paddle boat in the water near the Calgary Canoe Club, "which is really unusual," she told the Calgary Eyeopener on Wednesday. "Something you don't usually see."

She went to take a closer look and saw what appeared to be a beaver bobbing in the water. But then she realized it was a person.

"I thought to myself, 'Wow, I better get going and help this person out,'" Bell said.

"I just knew that this person needed help. They were splashing in the water, trying to stay above water."

The Calgary Fire Department's annual Beyond the Call award program recognizes people who go above and beyond in emergency situations, sometimes risking their lives to prevent someone else's injury, death or property damage.

This year's award recipients pulled people from burning cars and buildings, performed CPR and rescued multiple people and a dog from drowning.

"It's kind of unbelievable. I'm really humbled and honoured to be able to have helped someone, saved someone's life," said Bell, who received the commendation award.

"You can't describe how you feel. You kind of get goosebumps."

Dragged him to shore

On that day in August, Bell said, she ran as fast as she could down a ridge and stairs to the water.

She jumped into the cold water, yelling at the man as she swam out to him. Bell used her fleece sweater to drag the man to shore.

"I don't know how long he was in the water but he looked freezing cold," she said.

'Must be adrenaline'

He was so weak, he couldn't stand up, so Bell hoisted the man — who was at least six feet tall — over her shoulders to sit him on a rock.

"It must be adrenaline," Bell said.

The Calgary Canoe Club is on the north shore of the Glenmore Reservoir. (Google Maps)

A cyclist passing by called 911 and emergency crews were dispatched.

The man survived.

"I think she saved his life," fire department spokesperson Carol Henke told CBC News last August.

"She made a split-second decision to help. She knew her skills and abilities and she did the right thing. I mean, she made the difference in this young man's life."

Here is the full list of recipients who received an appreciation award, for which people made a significant effort to help the fire department where people or property were in danger:

  • Brandon Luc and Shawna Englund checked on their friend out of concern for his mental health. They found an emergency situation, called 911 and performed CPR until paramedics arrived.
  • Dustin Hanson saved a dog, which had been hit by a car, from subsequently drowning in Elliston Pond.
  • Sheldon Burton and Kimberley Dueck helped save the life of a woman who had collapsed from cardiac arrest, by performing CPR.
  • Kim Fisher spotted a fire, ensured 911 was called and helped people evacuate the building despite fire blocking the stairs.
  • Cory Janes dramatically reduced the size of a fire in his neighbour's house by reaching through the kitchen window with two fire extinguishers.
  • Melissa Paquette was the only one at a CTrain platform to help a man who had collapsed. Her CPR helped saved his life.
  • Danni Kerr and Shaun Marcia found an automatic external defibrillator and performed CPR on a woman who had collapsed on a tennis court, helping her regain consciousness.

Here is the full list of recipients who received a commendation award, for which people intervened in a life-saving situation or risked personal injury to save another person:

  • Sebastian Porter, an off-duty Calgary firefighter, prevented a fire in a car crash that had trapped a person, by piling snow on the smoking vehicle and organizing bystanders to help at the scene.
  • Marc Chartier, Sara Hein and Dan Woodland were doing a landscaping job when they saved an elderly woman from a fire and kept her safe as she worried about the safety of her daughter, who, unbeknownst to her, was safely away from the fire.
  • Junta Goyeche pulled a fellow angler from a frigid Bow River and performed CPR for 30 minutes waiting for paramedics to arrive.
  • Todd Nabozniak prevented an engine fire after a car crashed into the back of a 18-wheel semi-trailer. He then smashed the car's windows and climbed in to try to save the driver, whose legs were trapped.
  • Mackenzie Martineau and Kaden Clouston attempted to extinguish a building fire and evacuate everyone inside despite the flames. Trapped by the fire, Martineau lowered an employee from the second floor and then jumped to save himself.
  • Mike Gutierrez extinguished a potentially deadly and damaging fire at a gas station when a fire sparked as he was filling up a customer's motorhome.
  • Chelsea Krpan saved the life of a teenage boy, who had jumped from a train bridge with friends into the Bow River.
  • Raymond Fang pulled a woman through the window of a burning car on Glenmore Trail. He also called 911 and helped the other two injured occupants until paramedics arrived.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener