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Saturday, April 28, 2012

PGFD Christmas in April

On Saturday, April 28, Firefighters will work with Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III and join over a thousand Prince George’s County community volunteers to renovate 86 homes for elderly and disabled homeowners during the 24th Annual Christmas program.  Since 1989, Prince George’s County Christmas in April has repaired and renovated over 2000 homes and donated over $35 million in supplies and service for repairs. 

“The Fire/EMS Department is continuing with the proud tradition of giving back to the community by being involved with Christmas in April.  I fully support and proud of our career, civilian and volunteer personnel that have committed themselves to this effort,” said Fire Chief Marc Bashoor.  Fire Chief Bashoor visited each of the six homes that Fire/EMS Department personnel worked on today.

 “Hundreds of Prince George’s County employees are once again volunteering to help Christmas in April repair and renovate the homes of some of our neediest residents and neighbors,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III.  “Like our Transforming Neighborhood Initiative, this effort is about transforming neighborhoods and lives one house at a time.”

PGFD personnel were assigned houses at 70 Herrington Court in Kettering, 2210 Overton Drive in Fort Washington, 4615 Gunther Street in Capitol Heights, 408 Dateleaf venue in Capitol Heights, 1805 Virginia Avenue in Landover and 10708 Montgomery Road in Beltsville.

Deputy Fire Chief Ben Barksdale lends a hand.  Photo by Steve White.

The following images are by Marc S. Bashoor

Fire/EMS Department 2011 Valor Awards

Photo by Michael J. Yourishin

The Prince George's County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department recently presented Medals of Valor to deserving individuals for their actions on incidents in 2011.  Additionally, a Firefighter and Paramedic of the Year were recognized for their outstanding performance.  The Valor Awards Luncheon was held on Wednesday, April 25, 2012, at Martins Crosswinds in Greenbelt, Maryland.  Recipients were presented with their awards by County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, County Council Chair Andrea Harrison and Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor.

Here are the recipients from the Fire/EMS Department.

Presented to

Presented to

Presented to

In the early morning hours of January 27, 2011, during a crippling snowstorm, firefighters were dispatched to the 4500 block of Woodgate Way for a reported house fire with a person trapped.  On arrival, crews encountered a 1½ story single-family dwelling with thick black smoke and heavy fire showing.  Three occupants had already escaped, after being alerted by a working smoke alarm, and were frantically telling the arriving firefighters a family member was still inside the residence.

The crew on board the first arriving engine began an aggressive interior attack, attempting to control the spread of the fire. The Rescue Squad from St. Joseph Fire/EMS Station 806 arrived on the scene.  Aware of the trapped occupant, Fire Lieutenant John P. Callan and Fire Fighter/Medic Bobby J. Blevins entered the structure and forcefully pushed past the protection of the attack line to begin their search.  Able to hear the victim’s cries, they crawled toward her voice but were met by a solid wall of flame.  Without hesitation, Lieutenant Callan and Fire Fighter Blevins put themselves in direct flame contact and entered the wall of fire as they continued to work their way toward the victim’s location.   

As the interior crew searched for the victim, Assistant Fire Chief Adon W. Snyder, who by now had arrived on the scene, went to the rear of the home to perform a size-up.  In the rear, he saw the trapped occupant at a second-story window and heard her screaming for her life as the choking black smoke and intense heat engulfed her.  At the same time, an exterior crew member of Rescue Squad 806, Fire Fighter Alexander H. Myers, came around to the rear of the home with a ladder.  The ladder was placed at the window by both members in an effort to rescue the victim. The 63-year-old female had severe physical limitations and was unable to get out of the window on her own.  Fire Fighter Myers ascended the ladder to the victim’s location.

No longer hearing the victim’s cries for help, Lieutenant Callan and Fire Fighter Blevins thought the victim had succumbed as they entered her back bedroom.  As they searched the room and got to the window they were relieved to see her below receiving treatment.  They continued the performance of their duties, unaware that in their valiant attempts to reach the victim their breathing apparatus and personal protective equipment, while saving them from serious injury, had received irreparable damage. 

Fire Fighter Myers, knowing he had to act quickly before the victim fell back into the room, partially slid his body past the victim and subjected himself to the intense heat and thick smoke of the room’s interior.  There he physically hoisted the victim over the window sill, out of the room, and onto the ladder.  The pair of rescuers brought the seriously burned woman down the ladder and immediately began treating her, while summoning paramedics to their location.  The patient was transferred into the care of EMS personnel and transported to the hospital with second-degree burns to her lower body and suffering from smoke inhalation.  She was hospitalized for two weeks and has since fully recovered.  Fire Fighter Myers was also transported and admitted to the Burn Unit at Washington Hospital Center for evaluation of possible thermal injuries to his airway, sustained while making the rescue.  He was hospitalized for two days before being released and returned to duty just days after the incident.

For extreme personal risk, zeal, and judgment, Fire Fighter/Medic Alexander H. Myers is awarded a Gold Medal of Valor.

For great personal risk, zeal, and judgment, Fire Fighter Lieutenant John P. Callan and Fire Fighter/Medic Bobby J. Blevins are awarded a Silver Medal of Valor.

For zeal and judgment, Assistant Fire Chief Adon W. Snyder, Jr. is awarded a Bronze Medal of Valor.

Assistant Fire Chief Snyder and Fire Fighter Lieutenant Callan are both two-time Valor Award recipients, each having received the Silver in 2003.

Presented to

In the early morning hours of Wednesday, January 19, 2011, firefighters and paramedics from the Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department and the Bladensburg Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, Inc. responded to 4709 40th Avenue for the report of a house fire with occupants trapped.  Crews arrived to find heavy fire conditions had engulfed the entire first floor and front of the residence, making it extremely difficult to gain entry from that location.  The family members of the trapped victims were gathered in the front yard frantically pleading for help.  The crew from Hyattsville, which consisted of Volunteer Sergeant Nik Zupanic, Volunteer Fire Fighter William Price, and Volunteer Fire Fighter Josh Murphy, made their way to the rear and entered the structure.  Upon locating the interior stairwell, Volunteer Sergeant Zupanic conducted a primary search of the second floor.  Volunteer Fire Fighter Price, having made his way up the stairwell, located an unconscious female child.  He handed the young victim to Volunteer Sergeant Zupanic, who carried her down the stairwell, while he and Volunteer Fire Fighter Murphy cleared a path outside.  Once out of the burning structure, it was noticed that the child had no pulse. Volunteer Fire Fighter Price and Volunteer Fire Fighter Murphy immediately began CPR until the child was placed in the care of EMS personnel, who transported her to the hospital.

Volunteer Fire Captain Kyle Schultz and Volunteer Fire Fighter Bradley Mummaw from Bladensburg was the second arriving crew.  On arrival, Sergeant Schultz sized up the situation at the front of the home.  He then made a split second call to mount an aggressive interior attack and rapid search, going through the front door, in an attempt to reach the children.  Entry was difficult and risky, but Volunteer Captain Schultz and Volunteer Fire Fighter Mummaw went ahead of the hose line, pushing far enough into the house to locate an unresponsive child in the living room.  Without the constant protection of the hose line, they successfully removed the victim to the front lawn and immediately turned her over to the care of EMS personnel. 

Tragically, despite the efforts of firefighters, the two 12-year-old girls succumbed to their injuries.
For personal risk, zeal, and judgment, Volunteer Captain Kyle Schultz, Volunteer Sergeant Nik Zupanic, and Volunteer Fire Fighters Josh Murphy, William J. Price, and Bradley Mummaw are awarded a Bronze Medal of Valor.
This is Volunteer Schultz’s second Medal of Valor, having received the Silver in 2010.
This is Volunteer Nik Zupanic’s second Medal of Valor, having also received the Silver in 2010. 

Presented to

On the evening of Friday, November 4, 2011, while on his way home after working Bingo at the Branchville Volunteer Fire Company and Rescue Squad, Inc., Volunteer Fire Fighter Derek Daves witnessed a horrific two-vehicle crash on John Hanson Highway in Landover, Maryland.  He arrived on the scene just seconds after the incident occurred and encountered two children trapped in the backseat of a vehicle that had burst into flames after being struck by another vehicle.  Volunteer Fire Fighter Daves used his cell phone to notify 911 of the incident.  Despite not having his firefighter’s gear, a charged hose line, or any protective equipment, Fire Fighter Daves immediately and without hesitation approached the burning vehicle.  Hearing the screams of the bystanders alerting him of the trapped children and in an effort to access them, Volunteer Fire Fighter Daves aggressively attempted to open the doors or break the windows.  However, the intensity of the fire, combined with thick black toxic smoke and extreme heat, forced him to retreat without being able to make the rescue.   

Volunteer Fire Fighter Daves painfully described seeing the two children inside the burning car and hearing their screams as “a vision that will be indelibly etched in my mind.”  It was later determined the damage to the vehicle was so severe that access would only have been possible with the use of the heavy-duty hydraulic equipment typically used by firefighters.

Fire Fighter Daves acted without concern for his personal safety, while attempting to save the lives of the two young victims.  As a result of his actions, Fire Fighter Daves sustained burn injuries to his hand and exposure to the intense heat and thick smoke. 

For great personal risk, zeal, and judgment, Volunteer Fire Fighter John “Derek” Daves is awarded a Silver Medal of Valor.

Presented to

On the evening of Tuesday, June 7, 2011, Prince George’s County firefighters and paramedics from the New Carrollton area were alerted to an apartment building fire at 5328 85th Avenue.  The crews arrived to find a four-story building, with fire showing from all four floors.  The first arriving firefighters had their hands full, removing occupants form their balconies on the front and rear side of the apartment building and mounting an attack on the fire.  One of the crew members from the Kentland Volunteer Fire Department, Inc., Volunteer Fire Fighter John “Chip” Moser, was returning to his engine to retrieve additional equipment when he observed someone waving a towel out of a top floor apartment window on the side of the building.  A large amount of smoke was also pouring out of the window.  Volunteer Fire Fighter Moser immediately grabbed a ladder large enough to reach the top floor and yelled for a nearby paramedic to assist with him with placement of a ladder.  Volunteer Fire Fighter Moser ascended the ladder, which just barely reached the bottom of the window.  He reached up to the window and was handed an infant from inside.  He descended the ladder and turned the baby over to the care of the paramedic.  Volunteer Fire Fighter Moser then returned up the ladder, where he assisted an adult female, the infant’s grandmother, out of the window and carried her down the ladder to safety. He carried the female over to the triage area where paramedics were treating about a dozen occupants.  The infant and grandmother were both transported to a nearby hospital, where they were treated for smoke inhalation and released the next day.  If not for Volunteer Fire Fighter Moser’s alertness that enabled him to see the towel, the injuries to the infant and grandmother could have been much worse.

For great personal risk involved in a high-angle rescue of two trapped occupants, zeal, and judgment, Volunteer Fire Fighter John “Chip” Moser is awarded a Silver Medal of Valor.

Regrettably, Volunteer Fire Fighter Moser is unable to be here, as he is currently in the U. S. Marine Corp Boot Camp in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. to

Presented to

Presented to

During the early morning hours of Sunday, November 27, 2011, firefighters responded to a house fire at 2411 Griffen Street in the Chillum-Adelphi area.  On arrival, heavy fire and thick smoke consumed the front portion of a one-story, single-family home with three victims reported trapped inside the residence.  First arriving firefighters initiated an attack on the fire, as other firefighters made their way ahead of the hose lines into the burning structure to search for the trapped occupants.  Firefighters searched the rear of the house through blinding smoke and intense heat, locating three unconscious victims in their bedrooms whom they quickly removed from the increasingly untenable conditions.  Once outside, the victims were found to be without pulse or respirations, and emergency pre-hospital care was started by firefighters and paramedics.

These firefighters and paramedics fought a well advanced fire, performed searches for trapped occupants in high heat and thick smoke conditions, and performed pre-hospital emergency care of the three victims removed from the burning home.
College Park Volunteer Fire Fighter Troy Dannenfelser and Volunteer Sergeant Timothy Curran removed a first floor
bedroom window and entered the residence.  Volunteer Fire Fighter Dannenfelser immediately performed a Vent Enter
Search maneuver, during which he discovered an unconscious adult female lying between the bed and wall.  Volunteer
Fire Fighter Dannenfelser and Volunteer Sergeant Curran positioned the victim in front of the window and removed her
outside to awaiting EMS units.

Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Fighters Matthew D. Laura, Daniel Leyden, and Henry Sullivan entered the structure ahead of
a hose line and began searching, despite the high heat and limited visibility.  The crews located an unconscious child
who had crawled under a bed.  They removed the young victim to the exterior of the house to awaiting EMS units.
Berwyn Heights Volunteer Fire Fighters Ben Ross and Chris Hagen, notwithstanding the high heat and limited visibility,
and without the protection a hose line, located an unconscious female under a bed.  They removed her through a 
bedroom window, where other firefighters brought her to the front yard to awaiting paramedics.

Fire Fighter/Medic Lieutenant Russell L. Poe, III, and Fire Fighter/Medics John W. Godenick and Ryan A. Shipp
performed multiple assignments that demonstrated leadership and the ability to operate as a team of firefighters
and paramedics.

College Park Volunteer Chief William Corrigan assumed command of a very busy fire scene, with fire still consuming the front portion of the house and several crews working inside on suppression and search and rescue of three trapped occupants.  Chief Corrigan diligently directed and maintained crew location and accountability and ordered additional EMS resources, as the need continued to grow with each victim removed from the home.

For his ability to initially manage and command a busy fire scene and his thinking and actions that enabled him to transition and utilize each of his skills as a fire officer, firefighter, and paramedic, Fire Fighter/Medic Lieutenant Russell L. Poe, III is awarded a Silver Medal of Valor.

For their personal risk in entering a burning structure in advance of a charged hose line and searching and locating unconscious occupants in nearly untenable conditions, Volunteer Sergeant Timothy Curran, Volunteer Fire Fighter Daniel Leyden, Volunteer Fire Fighters Matthew D. Lauria, Henry Sullivan, Troy Dannenfelser, Ben Ross, and Chris Hagen are awarded a Bronze Medal of Valor.

For their ability to follow instructions, initially operate independently without their officer, and to extinguish the fire and then immediately transition into patient care, Fire Fighter/Medic John W. Godenick and Fire Fighter/Medic Ryan A. Shipp are awarded a Bronze Medal of Valor.

For his ability and due diligence in administering advanced life support care, including the administration of a drug only recently approved and administered under extremely adverse conditions, Paramedic Captain Danny Hughes is hereby awarded a Bronze Medal of Valor.

For his overall performance on a very busy scene and maintaining command and control of multiple firefighting and EMS crews operating inside and outside a structure well involved with fire, Volunteer Fire Chief William Corrigan is awarded a Bronze Medal of Valor.

This is Fire Fighter/Medic Lieutenant Poe’s second Medal of Valor, having received the Bronze in 2005.
This is Paramedic Captain Hughes’ second Medal of Valor, having received the Silver in 2005 and was also named Paramedic of the Year.

This is Volunteer Fire Fighter  Ben Ross’ second Medal of Valor, having received the Bronze in 2009.

Presented to

Photo by Michael J. Yourishin
On Friday, August 12, 2011, Fire Fighter Michael W. Shipp was a member of the crew onboard the ambulance from Morningside Fire/EMS Station 827, which was transporting a patient to a hospital.  The unit was traveling on the Capital Beltway and approaching Forestville Road, when Fire Fighter Shipp noticed a cloud of dark smoke and what appeared to be flames underneath a Hummer SUV.  Fire Fighter Shipp promptly contacted Public Safety Communications to advise them of the matter and to request additional resources.  The SUV’s driver was engaged in conversation on her cell phone, making it difficult to alert her to the situation.  Fire Fighter Shipp positioned the ambulance behind the SUV and continued his attempt to capture the woman’s attention.  Upon finally getting her attention, the woman remained on the phone and even accelerated before eventually pulling onto the right shoulder.  She did not readily believe the SUV was on fire, and Fire Fighter Shipp had to physically remove her from the vehicle.  Once the woman realized her vehicle really was on fire, she proceeded to the ambulance, where the crew kept her out of harm’s way.  Meanwhile, Fire Fighter Shipp attempted to extinguish the flames with a fire extinguisher; however, the fire had intensified and within seconds the vehicle was fully engulfed in flames.  His quick thinking and immediate action are directly responsible for changing the outcome of what potentially could have been a tragedy. 

For quick thinking, zeal, and judgment, Fire Fighter Michael W. Shipp is awarded a Bronze Medal of Valor.
This is Fire Fighter Shipp’s second Medal of Valor, having the received Gold  and named Fire Fighter of the Year in 2000. 

Presented to

Presented to

On the morning of November 25, 2011, Fire Fighter/Medic Michael P. Conway, Jr. and Volunteer Fire Fighter Travis Murdoch were members of the crew on board the Engine from Bowie Fire/EMS Station 839, which was dispatched to 14140 Pleasant View Drive for the report of a house fire with people trapped.  Upon entering the two-story, single-family dwelling, Fire Fighter Conway and Volunteer Fire Fighter Murdoch encountered heavy “blacked-out” smoke conditions and intense heat in the first floor hallway.  Locating the steps, and without the protection of a hose line, they began searching aggressively for the two adults and three children reportedly trapped in the home.  Fire Fighter Conway entered a room and immediately located an adult female and four young female victims.  Fire Fighter Conway then helped the victims to an exterior balcony, where Volunteer Fire Fighter Murdoch assisted with removing three of them from the balcony and onto the ladder.  The three 12-year-old patients were turned over to the care of awaiting paramedics, who assessed them and transported them to the hospital.  For mobility reasons, the adult female was unable to exit via the ladder.  A decision was made to remove her by way of the interior stairwell.  Fire Fighter Conway removed his face piece and placed it on the victim, and with the assistance of an officer on the scene, she was removed to safety.

The three young females were treated and released from the hospital later that day; however, the adult female was hospitalized for several days before being released.
For great personal risk, zeal, and judgment, Fire Fighter/Medic Michael P. Conway, Jr. is awarded a Silver Medal of Valor.
For personal risk, zeal, and judgment, Volunteer Fire Fighter Travis Murdoch is awarded a Bronze Medal of Valor.

Presented to

Presented to
The Award presentation included young Christina Luckett and her grandmother.  Christina was the victim described in the scenario.  
Photo by Michael J. Yourishin

On the evening of Monday, November 21, 2011, Prince George’s County firefighters responded on the Engine from the Clinton Fire/EMS Station 825 for a report of a medical emergency at 8501 Weimar Court.  On arrival, they encountered an adult family member attempting to administer a nebulizer treatment to a five-year-old female. 
Fire Fighter/Medic Edward Scott and Volunteer Fire Fighter Ashley Butler assumed care of the child and began assessing her condition.  Fire Fighter/Medic Philpott interviewed the child’s family members, in an effort to gather pertinent information.  During their assessment, Fire Fighter Scott and Volunteer Fire Fighter Butler noticed the young girl’s lips were turning blue.  Suddenly, her respirations began to decrease, at which point she coded.  Immediately and without hesitation, Fire Fighter Scott initiated CPR, while Fire Fighter Philpott contacted Public Safety Communications for an estimated time of arrival of the ambulance and/or paramedic units.  After being notified that units were at least five minutes out, and recognizing the child was in imminent danger, Fire Fighter Scott decided to go ahead and transport on the Engine.  The patient was revived en route to Southern Maryland Hospital, where after a three-day stay she was discharged to home and is doing very well.  The quick thinking of the crew, and Fire Fighter/Medic Scott’s decision to transport on the Engine, in spite of the challenges it would present in performing CPR, undoubtedly saved the little girl’s life.
For the initiative to “think outside the box,” zeal, and judgment, Fire Fighter/Medic Edward P. Scott is awarded a Silver Medal of Valor.
For zeal and compassion, Fire Fighter/Medic William L. Philpott and Volunteer Fire Fighter Ashley Butler are awarded a Bronze Medal of Valor.

Presented to
Photo by Michael J. Yourishin

On March 27, 2011, Stefan C. Gansert was appointed as the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department’s first Volunteer Safety Division Chief.  The position was established to oversee the administration and operation of the Volunteer Safety Officer Program.  Volunteer Safety Division Chief Gansert has worked closely with the Risk Management and Safety Office, under the Support Services Command, to bring together a group of dedicated volunteer safety officers. 

During his 22-year tenure with the Fire/EMS Department, Chief Gansert served as a volunteer firefighter, chief officer, and safety officer.  He has attended countless hours of training, as well as numerous safety-related courses and seminars.  His current responsibilities include serving in as advisor to all the volunteer safety officers; communicating and interacting with Fire/EMS Department leaders regarding safety-related matters; ensuring volunteer safety officer coverage for all working incidents and departmental accidents occurring Monday thru Friday, between 1700 and 0700 hours; investigating infractions of departmental rules and regulations; creating and/or assisting in the development of innovative and routine safety training programs; monitoring trends in fire and rescue department accidents; researching and recommending enhancements to current program; coordinating and conducting gear and station inspections and training; ensuring safety officer vehicle maintenance; training safety officers; and performing all duties of a safety officer and other required OSHA duties.

During Hurricane Irene, Chief Gansert acted as the safety representative in the Emergency Operations Center.  He successfully coordinated safety officer coverage in the wake of both Hurricane Irene and the August 2011 earthquake, having provided an unprecedented double the standard coverage.  Chief Gansert participates on several committees to improve safety and risk management.  He collaborates with Public Safety Communications to ensure safety officers are appropriately dispatched on all working incidents and departmental accidents.  His accomplishments, while impressive, are too numerous to cite in this forum. 

Chief Gansert’s dedication, hard work, knowledge, and experience through years of training, has greatly contributed to the success of the Safety Officer Program.  This achievement has directly impacted the successful operation of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department, as a whole.  For this reason, Fire Chief Marc Bashoor is pleased name Volunteer Safety Division Chief Stefan C. Gansert as the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department’s 2011 Fire Fighter of the Year.

Presented to
Photo by Michael J. Yourishin

Fire Fighter/Medic Amy Lynn Gunn is the embodiment of the best qualities found in many of the excellent paramedics currently operating in the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department. A nine-year veteran of the Department, her professionalism and excellence in field care are known to her coworkers—career and volunteer—hospital physicians and nursing staffs, and paramedic students participating in clinical ride-alongs.

Fire Fighter/Medic Gunn is a nationally and State Certified ALS Provider, Field Training Coach for County Paramedic Interns, and a Paramedic Preceptor for visiting paramedic students. She is also a member of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department Quality Assurance Medical Review Committee, participating in formal actions to improve system-wide EMS response. Off duty, Fire Fighter /Medic Gunn is a CPR Instructor, Paramedic Instructor at Prince George’s Community College, and the Clinical EMS-Liaison between the Community College and the Fire/EMS Department.

In 2011, on multiple emergency calls, Fire Fighter/Medic Gunn effectively coordinated the actions of diverse teams composed of career and volunteer Fire Fighter/EMTs, ALS interns, and paramedic students riding along from multiple training institutions. While managing her teams and maintaining her duties as an ALS Preceptor and Field Training Coach, she kept her sight on the welfare of her patients. Her responses included the resuscitation of more 9 cardiac arrest patients.  While post-resuscitation outcomes have varied clinical significance, at a minimum, they allow patients and their families opportunities that are otherwise lost.

One of Fire Fighter/Medic Gunn’s resuscitated patients, a young man in his early 20’s, eventually became an organ donor, giving new-life to many others—an action that may not have been possible without the work of Fire Fighter/Medic  Gunn.  While “code saves” are meritus, valor is also found in “the courage to continue.”  In addition to her reputation for quality work and a positive attitude, Fire Fighter/Medic Gunn has also attracted an unfortunately true reputation as a magnet for some of the most difficult and stressful call types a paramedic can encounter, including numerous critical pediatric emergencies.  Nonetheless, she perseveres, bringing calm to chaos and outstanding patient care to those in need.  

For her overall professionalism, consistent excellence in patient care, the courage to carry on, and dedication to all aspects of the paramedic profession and the Fire/EMS Department, Fire Chief Marc Bashoor is pleased to name Fire Fighter Amy Lynn Gunn as the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department’s 2011 Paramedic of the Year.

The men and women of Public Safety thank Cynee Simpson and Brad Bell from WJLA for presenting the scenarios to the nearly 600 attendees at the awards luncheon.  Photo by Michael J. Yourishin