“Camp susquehanna is more than just a camp, it’s a place where I can be myself around people that accept me for who I am and I won’t be judged based on my appearance or my story. Camp is like another family to me and along with a lot of other people that attend this camp, I would do anything for the people at camp, I would do anything to just put a smile on their faces.
Camp has done so much for me these past four years that I attended. When I first had my injury I felt so alone and thought that no one knew what it was like to go through what I went through. My first day to camp I was nervous meeting new people for the first time I really wasn’t sure what to expect.
As soon as i got off the bus I met Jenn, Liz, and Jessica. They all ran up to me and welcomed me to camp introducing me to complete strangers that I now call friends. I was quickly accepted by all the members at camp and started talking to people and sharing stories. During that week at camp I realized there are people that have gone through what I have and we were there for each other. Just talking to people who have similar scars to the ones I do helped me to feel better.
Over the years I have broken out of my shell more and more. I have had the privilege to visit the IAFF camp, which is run by the International Association of Firefighters. They choose one camper and counselor from every state and some from Canada to go on a week long camp just outside of Washington D.C. and during that week I met a lot of new people who I still talk to. We did a lot in that week, we toured most of the monuments in Washington, Arlington national cemetery along with the tomb of the unknown soldier. We also went to the National’s baseball game which was fun because I don’t go to games very often.
Long story short, Camp Susquehanna is one of the best things that has happened to me. Without camp I don’t know how I would of gotten this far while being this happy about myself. I am going to try to go every year i can just to meet new faces and hang out with the ones I already know. I can’t wait for camp this year since we are going to a new location which i am excited to visit, and this year I hope to be a Leader in Training for the first time.”
Santo Piccolomini – Uniontown, PA
Santo Piccolomini was on the job installing a sign on a building near high-voltage power lines. In a split second, the electricity arced and sent 13,000 volts surging through his body.
He spent almost two months in a trauma burn unit in western Pennsylvania and underwent 19 surgeries to save his arms and maintain movement in his left shoulder. He fought through many hours of physical therapy and at age 21, came to fully appreciate the value of life and those who had supported him. Even before a full recovery, Piccolomini wanted to give back by volunteering at Camp Susquehanna. He shared his positive attitude and enthusiasm for life with the young burn survivors at camp. He left vowing to help support Camp Susquehanna. Few realized how fervently he worked behind the scenes to keep his promise. After months of work and countless hours, Piccolomini raised $8,500 – more than any single counselor ever. His passion for helping young burn survivors has led him to rally others to support the burn survivor community. He has been able to turn his personal experience into a springboard that makes an impact at home and in the world.
The President’s Award
Harrisburg Bureau of Fire
One month after the Kittatinny Street fire, Harrisburg Bureau of Fire lost another respected member, firefighter Daniel Wolfe, to cancer. As family and firefighters gathered to pay their last respects on a cold, windy night, calls came in for a fully involved house fire on Lexington Street with multiple children trapped upstairs. When crews arrived they found fire and heavy smoke coming from the first floor and smoke pouring from the upper floors. The situation necessitated additional alarms and a call for off-duty firefighters. As the funeral service for Wolfe ended, members of Harrisburg Bureau of Fire mobilized to assist at the scene of the fire. As DeVoe was on his way to his station to retrieve his gear, his car was struck by a motorist driving a stolen vehicle. DeVoe was critically injured and died the next day.
Five people were rescued from the Lexington Street fire. Two of the children, ages 2 and 10, later died. The fire took an enormous toll on the members of Harrisburg Bureau of Fire. DeVoe was a respected leader and role model both within the department and outside. He was always an example of service and generosity, even in death, when he helped others by donating his organs. His donation directly saved five lives and assisted as many as 100 additional people through tissue donation. His was the first line-of-duty death since 1979.
The President’s Award is presented to the Harrisburg Bureau of Fire in recognition of their ongoing efforts to do the work that DeVoe would want them to do despite their devastating losses.
Lt. Dennis DeVoe & Firefighter Nathan Martin – Harrisburg Bureau of Fire, Squad 8
In the early morning hours of February 2, firefighters responded to a house fire on Kittatinny Street, in the Allison Hill section of Harrisburg. They arrived to find a two-story row of apartments with significant smoke and fire coming from the front – and someone trapped inside. DeVoe and Martin ran through a wall of fire at the front door and entered the first floor apartment. They began a search in zero visibility and high heat. Martin found a victim on the sofa but fell while trying to drag him from the room. DeVoe reached them and he and Martin carried the victim back through the fire, using their bodies to shield him. Once he was in the hands of EMS, they returned to the building to search for additional victims. The man survived thanks to the courageous efforts of DeVoe and Martin.
Capt. Douglas Nothstein – Lehighton Fire Department
Lt. Justin Smith- Franklin Township Fire Department
When firefighters arrived at the home on Rock Street shortly after 7 pm last July, they found the entire back of the house engulfed in flames and the interior filled with smoke. Lt. Smith entered the home from the front and did a quick search of the living room and kitchen, while Capt. Nothstein entered from the rear. They found the victim in the kitchen and dragged him outside, where they began CPR. Despite their heroic efforts, the victim later died from severe burns and smoke inhalation.
Michael Surrell – Allentown, PA
Michael Surrell and his wife arrived home on West Liberty Street on a May afternoon to find smoke pouring from their neighbor’s house. People outside were yelling that a child was trapped on the second floor. Without hesitating, 64-year-old Surrell headed up the stairs, where he was met with intense heat and thick, choking smoke. Despite having a lung disease that made breathing difficult, he searched until he found the girl, scooping her up and carrying her down the stairs and out of the house. She was not breathing, so he began resuscitation efforts until she coughed and came to life. He is credited with saving the 8-year-old’s life.
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