Connecticut Firefighter William J. O’Connell Honored
Indianapolis, IN, April 24, 2013–PennWell Corporation presented Connecticut Firefighter William J. O’Connell with the 2013 Ray Downey Courage & Valor Award during this year’s Opening Ceremony of the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC), held at the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium April 22-27, 2013. Addressing an audience of nearly 7,000 firefighters, PennWell Corporation’s President and CEO Robert F. Biolchini stated, “This morning, we gather to honor another true American hero, Connecticut Firefighter William J. O’Connell. Last year, O’Connell’s extraordinary act of bravery under difficult conditions resulted in saving the lives of two individuals. Firefighter O’Connell exemplified the highest traditions of the fire service when he made a heroic effort, employed quick thinking, and executed courageous actions at risk to his life, to rescue two people.”
On July 22, 2012, 23:26:29 hours, Engine 5 and Rescue 1 responded to a report of a boating accident in the Stamford harbor. A private powerboat hit the break wall upon exiting the Stamford harbor causing it to flip and was now floating upside down in the harbor.
Two SFRD divers were initially dispatched to make contact with the trapped individuals. Diver one was a surface-rescuer equipped with a mask and dry suit. Diver two made initial entry and contact with the two individuals trapped inside the capsized boats’ hull in 50 feet of water. Firefighter O’Connell, the third diver, was equipped with a pony bottle to aid in the removal of two trapped victims in the capsized vessel.
Firefighter O’Connell located the two victims, a male and a female, amid the debris within the hull of the boat. They had been trapped for approximately 45 minutes and were in danger of hypothermia. Firefighter O’Connell removed his air supply to talk with the victims to assess their mental status and coach them on the use of the S.C.U.B.A. regulator.
Upon two exit attempts, the female victim returned to the safety of the air pocket. After successfully removing the male victim, firefighter O’Connell removed his pony bottle and reentered the hull for the third time. Realizing the pocket of air in the cabin was becoming toxic, Firefighter O’Connell knew he had to act quickly despite the reluctance of the female victim to exit. Positioning himself in front of the doorway, Firefighter O’Connell grabbed the female victim’s ankle and pulled her out of the hull and to the water surface successfully.
Firefighter O’Connell was born on May 11th, 1972 in Norwalk, Connecticut. He is the son of William J. O’Connell and Eleanor (Treacy) O’Connell and has four siblings. While off duty, O’Connell enjoys spending time with his two sons and wife, Cory. The Courage & Valor Foundation, created by PennWell Corporation to ensure that the world forever remembers the sacrifices made by heroic FDNY members on September 11, 2001, annually presents the Ray Downey Courage & Valor Award at FDIC. FDIC, owned and produced by PennWell, is the world’s largest firefighter training event, bringing together nearly 30,000 fire service professionals each year. In the spirit of the heroism displayed on September 11, this award recognizes extraordinarily courageous acts of American firefighters each year. The award is named in honor of Deputy Chief Ray Downey, head of FEMA, who helped Governor Frank Keating after the Murrah Building explosion in Oklahoma City in 1995. He was chief of rescue operations and a 39-year veteran of the Fire Department of New York, who elected to remain in the World Trade Center to save others on September 11. He was the most highly decorated firefighter in the history of New York.
About PennWell Corporation
PennWell Corporation is a diversified business-to-business media and information company that provides quality content and integrated marketing solutions for the following industries: oil and gas, electric power, renewable energy, water, electronics, semiconductor, contamination control, optoelectronics, fiberoptics, enterprise storage, fire, emergency services and dental. Founded in 1910, PennWell publishes 75 print and online magazines and newsletters, conducts 60 conferences and exhibitions on six continents, and has an extensive offering of books, maps, web sites, research and database services. In addition to PennWell’s headquarters in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the company has major offices in Nashua, New Hampshire; Houston, Texas; London, England; Fairlawn, New Jersey; Moscow, Russia; and Hong Kong, China. For additional information about PennWell, visit www.pennwell.com.