Oak Bay firefighter Gregory Swan has a Governor General’s medal to hang alongside his Medford Fire-Rescue commendation.
Swan was among those award the afternoon of March 21 at Government House in Victoria during Governor General Julie Payette’s first official visit to B.C.
“It was a very humbling experience,” Swan said of the ceremony that tempered the formality of Government House with the casual Victoria vibe.
Swan’s Medal of Bravery came in the wake of a July 18, 2015 incident when the off-duty firefighter rescued a man from his burning vehicle near Medford, Oregon. The car had crashed into a tree on the side of a busy highway and burst into flames, trapping the driver inside. Enveloped by heavy smoke, Swan used a fire extinguisher on the blaze before he attempted to free the victim with the help of bystanders. The fire flared up again, but after dousing it a second time, Swan was able to pull the victim from the vehicle and move him to safety.
“It’s difficult to be recognized for actions that you feel are just second nature but at the same time it’s been neat to share in it with my family,” Swan said.
A number of merit, volunteer and service awards were issued at the ceremony.
Recognition included basketball coach Kathy Shields, who was promoted within the Order of Canada at the ceremony after being appointed to the Order in 2016. She has coached the Canadian national women’s team and varsity team at the University of Victoria, pioneering women in coaching.
Bravery medals also went to Const. Craig Barker and Const. Paul Hykaway of the Victoria police for their January 2014 search of a burning house to ensure tenants had escaped.
“It was pretty neat to see all of that in your own back yard so to speak,” Swan said.
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