For the first time, the Midland Fire Department awarded the Award of Valor to one of its members.
Captain Bryan Chatwell has served with the Midland Fire Department for 12 years. But it was something he did off duty that earned him the prestigious honor.
“I saw a man in a truck drifting over into oncoming traffic,” he described.
“I went around him and watched him in my side mirror and he drifts completely into traffic and then stops.”
Capt. Chatwell knew something wasn’t right. He pulled over on FM 307 east of Fairgrounds and ran up to the car.
“I recognized him as someone I have run on before. I know he’s a diabetic. And he’s given me a blank stare.”
It was clear the driver was having a diabetic episode. But with the car still in drive, the doors were locked.
“I tried to make entry which did not work,” Chatwell recalled.
“I’m yelling at him, pointing at the door, but he just couldn’t cognitively understand what was going on.”
Capt. Chatwell was inches away but things were about to get more dangerous.
“At this point he starts driving away, and so I’m running beside the car still trying to make entry.”
Two truck drivers from the oil industry realized something was wrong.
“He realizes something’s going on, and he’s swapping lanes, we’re all over the place. So he gets in front of us to help block traffic off of us.”
Captain Chatwell called 911. One truck driver moved ahead of the car to help it stop.
“He starts slowing down, slowing down, slowing down, and finally we just let him run into him”
“I grabbed a hammer off of his truck, broke out the side window, opened the door, got in and put it in park.”
This first responder credits the two other drivers with helping him.
“I could not have done it without their help for sure.”
Because of his bravery, Captain Chatwell received the Award of Valor – the first of its kind from the Midland Fire Department.
“Stopping and helping this guy, of course, was the most important,” Chatwell said. “But then when you have people that you work with acknowledge it and say, ‘Hey you really did a good job,’ that is a nice feeling.”
Captain Chatwell estimates he ran up to one mile next the car.
While he’s honored to receive such an award, he also said his response to the situation is what’s expected of a first responder.
The Award of Valor was presented with a certificate and a medal. The certificate reads, “For a courageous act under conditions of extreme danger which has resulted in the protection of life and considered to be exceptionally valorous.”
Also recognized at the Midland Fire Department’s Awards Banquet:
Rookie of the Year: Bryce Langdon
Firefighter of the Year: Bryce Pruitt
Paramedic of the Year: Dusty Robertson
Officer of the Year: Charles Blumenauer
Employee of the Year: John Hamilton