THUNDER BAY – Canadian Star of Courage awarded to Randy McOrmond. The former Canadian Forces Sergeant is now a rookie firefighter with the Thunder Bay Fire Rescue. The award recognizing his life-saving, extreme rescue was for efforts performed as a Sergeant with the Canadian Armed Forces in Nunavut in 2009.
Additionally, two individuals also from Northwestern Ontario were awarded the Medal of Bravery for a rescue in Sioux Lookout.
Canadian Star of Courage is the second highest award
The Canadian Star of Courage is the second highest award for bravery within the Canadian system of honours. Created in 1972, Decorations for Bravery recognize people who risked their lives to try to save or protect the lives of others. The Cross of Valour (C.V.) recognizes acts of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme peril; the Star of Courage (S.C.) recognizes acts of conspicuous courage in circumstances of great peril; and the Medal of Bravery (M.B.) recognizes acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances.
Speaking in Ottawa, during the ceremony, Governor General David Johnston said, “This is not the first time I have presented the Decorations for Bravery; yet each time I do so, I am struck by the very goodness of humanity. Each of you faced some form of danger head on —from others, from the environment, from a circumstance in which you found yourselves. Yet each of you rose to the occasion, showing that even the smallest act of good can overcome the most desperate of situations”.
Governor General Johnston continued, “It is that innate goodness that has bound together the many and varied recipients of this award throughout its more than 40-year history.
“And although we mourn the loss of those who could not be saved and those who lost their own lives in the act of saving others, we can take comfort in the knowledge that in the end, they were caring for someone or being cared for. No matter what, they were not alone”.
Sergeant McOrmond was part of a search and rescue team that rescued a teenager who had been separated from his hunting party near Coral Harbour, Nunavut. The teen was discovered during an air search drifting towards Hudson’s Bay on a large pan of unstable ice. McOrmand and others on his team parachuted onto a nearby ice floe and made their way to the severely hypothermic victim by jumping from pieces of moving ice and crawling through the slushy snow.
Sergeant McOrmond’s team provided emergency medical attention to the victim and kept a watch on two polar bears less than 50 meters away while waiting for a rescue boat. The victim survived thanks to the courageous efforts of McOrmond and his team.
Sergeant McOrmond only recently became a fire fighter on Dec. 1, 2012 following successful completion of training and graduation from Thunder Bay Fire Rescue’s recruitment program. A 26-year veteran with the Canadian Armed Forces, he received an honourable discharge on Oct. 8 to begin training to pursue a second career with Thunder Bay Fire Rescue on Oct. 9.
“This medal is quite an honour,” said McOrmond. “When you’re doing your job, you don’t think about any recognition; I’m just glad I could help. It is also an honour to be able to bring my military experience to the Fire Rescue Service and begin the next chapter.”
Thunder Bay Fire Rescue is proud to congratulate their new fire fighter on this prestigious honour and welcomes the search and rescue expertise he brings to the local Fire Rescue Service.
Medal of Bravery Awarded for Sioux Lookout Efforts
There were also other Northwestern Ontarians recognized in the ceremony in Ottawa. Paris Nicolaides, M.B. and Constable Jason Spooner, M.B. from Sioux Lookout were presented the Medal of Bravery.
On March 6, 2009, Paris Nicolaides rescued a woman from a burning hotel room, in Sioux Lookout, Ontario. Working at the front desk, Mr. Nicolaides heard the fire alarm go off and proceeded to evacuate the hotel guests. Hearing screams from the room that was on fire, Mr. Nicolaides crawled in and located a badly burnt woman. After bringing her outside, Mr. Nicolaides returned with Ontario Provincial Police Constable Jason Spooner to search the room for the woman’s boyfriend. They braved the intense heat and flames to confirm that no one else was in the room. The woman was brought to the hospital, where she was treated for smoke inhalation and burns.