Local residents awarded medals for bravery

DOWNEY - Three local residents were honored by the Downey Fire Department on Tuesday for heroism and acts of bravery.Judith Serna, Gregory Wells and Esther Brossmer were presented with the city's Medals of Merit. It is the first time the medals have been awarded. Wells, a retired police officer from South Gate, pulled an unconscious man from the bottom of his complex's swimming pool. The victim was 6 feet, 3 inches tall and weighed about 250 pounds, but Wells managed to pull him up by himself. "Every effort he made helped us," said Fire Chief Lonnie Croom, who led the presentations. "When you're talking about lack of oxygen to the brain, every minute, every second counts." Wells, whose brother, Randy Wells, is a lieutenant in the Downey Police Department, was gracious in receiving the medal. "I'm extremely humbled," he said. "I don't feel worthy but thank you." Serna was driving along Florence Avenue at 4 a.m. on her way to work when she saw a woman trying to wave down a vehicle. Most cars drove past. Serna was talking on her cell phone with a friend, who advised her not to stop. "Her friend told her that's how people get robbed," said Croom. "But Judith made a U-turn and returned." As it turns out, the woman's husband was in cardiac arrest. Serna called 911 and performed CPR until paramedics arrived. She even stayed on the scene to console the man's wife. Brossmer, a fifth grade teacher at Rio Hondo Elementary, successfully performed the Heimlich maneuver on a choking student. According to Croom, a Downey boy recently died at a local park after choking on a piece of hot dog because nobody knew how to help him. "Get training, learn CPR and help your fellow neighbor," Croom urged the audience.

********** Published: January 26, 2012 - Volume 10 - Issue 41