They went above and beyond to save a patient, and last week, they were recognized by the Governor General for their bravery.

Chris Clark and Tyler A. Campbell, both members of Saskatoon Health Region’s Security team, received Medals of Bravery from the Governor General of Canada, David Johnston, in a ceremony in Ottawa on March 6.  The two were honoured for their part in a rescue during a fire at the Irene and Leslie Dubé Centre for Mental Health nearly two years ago.

Two men receive medals

Security officers Tyler Campbell (left) and Chris Clark (right) receive their medals from Gov. Gen. David Johnston.
Photo by Sgt Ronald Duchesne, Rideau Hall

On March 15, 2013, Clark and Campbell rescued a female patient from a burning room in the centre. The two had to retreat several times from the area due to the thick smoke created by the fire, but they still managed to locate the victim and bring her out of the room.

“You never think you’re going to be in this kind of situation,” said Campbell. “But when we got the call about a fire and a patient was still in the room, our training kicked in and we just did what we had to.”

“It was a scary situation, but we knew someone was in there, and we needed to get them out, so we were going to do whatever we could to make that happen,” said Clark.

Luckily, the fire was isolated to a single room and no one was seriously injured. There was only minimal fire and water damage.

Four other security team members were involved in the rescue – Stacy Anweiler, Roel Benedicto, Edmund Inocente and Latish Karki, along with registered nurse Steve Atchison, assisting  Clark and Campbell and securing the perimeter around the fire.

“It was a total team effort,” stated Clark, “which is how we do our jobs every day.  We may have been the ones to go into the room, but the other members of our unit made sure that everyone else in the building was safe.”

All six security team members were on hand in Ottawa when the medals were presented, thanks to a combined effort between Saskatoon Health Region and SEIU (Service Employees International Union) that covered their travel expenses. It was important to both Clark and Campbell that the rest of the team attend theimportant ceremony.

Six guards and the governor general

From left: Roel Benedicto, Tyler Campbell, Gov. Gen. David Johnston, Chris Clark, Latish Karki, Edmund Inocente, Stacy Anweiler.

“While our two ‘pilots’ are receiving this honour, they realize that the others on the team figuratively fueled their plane, serviced the engine and packed their parachute,” said Dennis Rose, Manager of Security for the Region. “So while the pilots may be the stars, they could not have flown alone.”

“We are extremely proud of our staff for the courage and leadership they showed during a dangerous situation,” said Nilesh Kavia, Vice President of Finance and Corporate Services for Saskatoon Health Region. “It’s great to see them receive national recognition for their efforts.”

The ceremony at Rideau Hall affected each member of the team deeply.

“When they called me up to get the medal, I thought I was going to start crying, but I held it together,” Clark said just a few days after the ceremony.

Campbell called the experience “surreal and impressive.”

There were many other people there receiving medals for acts no less courageous, he noted, and some of them had no training.

“It was a phenomenal experience,” Anweiler said, “to be in that beautiful building, and in the company of all these brave men and women. The whole thing was quite mindblowing.”

“Seeing two of our guys get that medal, it felt like we were getting them, too,” said Benedicto.

Anweiler, Benedicto and Atchison are to receive Letters of Commendation for their roles in the same rescue at a future time.

“Being in the military, I’ve received awards and commendations prior to this, including the Protective Services Medal from the Province of Saskatchewan. The only thing that caught me off guard was meeting the Chief of the Defence staff, and shaking his hand. I didn’t think that would happen,” said Clark, who has been a reservist for the Canadian Armed Forces for 30 years.  He credits his experiences in the reserves with his ability to focus on getting a job done, despite any personal fears.

Rose was the one who nominated the group for the award, and he tapped Clark’s knowledge of the honours and medals system, gained during his years of involvement with the military, to do so.

“Had I known more about the system before, there would have been many more nominations,” Rose stated. “There have been many incidents, in fact, that the security teams in the Region have responded to that deserved recognition.  But because of the nature of our business, these guys stay invisible. They are the unsung heroes.”