On July 18th 2010 just before 4:30pm, the Burton Fire District was summoned to an emergency situation most firefighters hope they will never experience during their career - a child was dying. Burton Engine Company 824, crewed by Firefighters Johnny Wynn and Chris Alewine, responded promptly to the scene arriving in just two minutes. Upon arrival they found a two year old boy that had been removed from a nearby pool and was lying unconscious and near lifeless. After assessing the child they confirmed that the infant was in-fact not breathing.
Knowing irreversible brain death is imminent within 4-6 minutes of oxygen deprivation, and thus any chance of a full recovery for this young child, and that by the time they arrived at the child’s side that time was near expired, Firefighters Wynn and Alewine prepared to apply their lifesaving skills under the most challenging of circumstances.
While putting the naturally strong, and sometimes crippling, emotions of dealing with a severely injured child and that of their parents aside to focus on the task at hand, Firefighters Wynn and Alewine worked to open and control the child’s airway while providing rescuing breathing to give the boy’s starving brain the oxygen it needed to sustain life. Within minutes the young child began to show those signs of life; however, this continued to challenge Wynn and Alewine as they struggled to keep that airway open and clear as the child’s natural instinct to breathe began to come alive and expel the excess water that had entered his lungs.
Within 30 minutes of the incident occurring, the child who was within minutes of death, was now well on the road to recovery, and just days later was able to visit Engine Company 824 and his guardian angels Firefighters Johnny Wynn and Chris Alewine. This was surely a highlight in Beaufort County’s tragic season of drowning, especially in light of our submitting this award in the shadows of yet another search for a missing swimmer off Hunting Island.
When 16 year veteran Firefighter Johnny Wynn is not responding to emergencies he is in charge of special projects for the department and utilizes his personal carpentry skills to make repairs and improvements to any one of the Burton Fire District’s five fire stations; thereby not only improving quality of life for the firefighters, but saving thousands in tax payer dollars by taking care of expensive repairs himself. Most notably when the daughter of a Burton Fire District member was severely injured in an automobile wreck leaving her paralyzed from the neck down and confined to a wheel chair, Firefighter Wynn led the upgrades to her home to make it more accessible and comfortable for her and her family .
Firefighter Chris Alewine has taken his interest in public safety to a higher level by taking intense- specialized rescue classes on his own and voluntarily joining South Carolina’s Urban Search & Rescue Team. By being a member of this team Chris stands ready to deploy to any disaster – anywhere – at any time and place himself in highly unstable and dangerous/rudimentary environments to rescue those in need, regardless if the disaster occurs in South Carolina or another country.
Because of all that Firefighters Wynn and Alewine do for our department and the citizens of Beaufort County; most notably that dedication cumulating in a highly emotional incident in which the life of a child was in the balance yet Firefighters Wynn and Alewine remained focused and in control enabling them to reverse the certain death which was imminently within minutes and save the life of a two year old boy, Burton Fire District Firefighters Johnny Wynn and Chris Alewine were selected for Exchange Club Firefighters of the Year and it is our great pride and pleasure they are members of our department.
The awards were presented on October 28th at the Golden Corral in Beaufort in front of family, friends, coworkers, and members of the Exchange Club. Thank you to the Beaufort Exchange Club for offering this award and recognizing our firefighters, as well as a great ceremony and a great day.
We are proud to serve you all!
Top of Page