CHANTILLY, Va. and CHICAGO – August 25, 2022 – The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and Motorola Solutions today announced Captain Michael Kaake, Lieutenant Kris Prosser and firefighter paramedic Tyler Abbatiello as the recipients of the 2022 IAFC Ben Franklin Award for Valor. Nominated for their heroic and swift water rescue in the Whitewater River, the members of the Colerain Township Department of Fire and EMS in Ohio exhibited incredible bravery, perseverance and commitment to public safety.
The Whitewater River is one of three major tributaries that empty into the Ohio River within the greater Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio area. It is used extensively for a variety of recreational activities. On July 24, 2021, previous flooding, newly fallen trees and powerful, swirling currents made for dangerous conditions. That day, the Hamilton County Communications Center (HCCC) received a 911 call from a kayaker informing dispatch that a companion had overturned his kayak.
The HCCC dispatched Whitewater Township Fire Department and additional water rescue elements, among them the Colerain Township Department of Fire and EMS’s Rescue 26 and Boat 26, as well as the Cincinnati Fire Department's Rescue 14 and Boat 14. Colerain’s Boat 26 launched first, with the crew of Kaake, Prosser and Abbatiello. They found the overturned kayaker near the confluence with the Ohio River, where he was struggling to stay afloat and continuously being swept under by currents and undertow.
Prosser was able to move the boat within several yards of the kayaker. Kaake and Abbatiello swam to him and were able to secure a personal flotation device and anchor it to an overhanging tree. For several minutes they held onto the kayaker and kept him from being pinned against a growing pile of debris while they awaited additional support from Cincinnati's Boat 14. The boat was able to get into a position that allowed rescuers to pull the victim onboard and take him safely to shore.
“Our Ben Franklin Award for Valor, named for the nation’s first fire chief, Benjamin Franklin, is our association’s most prestigious honor,” said Chief Ken Stuebing, president and board chair, IAFC. “It recognizes firefighters worldwide for their expert training, leadership, heroic actions and safe practices. We thank this year’s very deserving recipients for their courage.”
“It is an honor to present this award to the heroes from Colerain Township Department of Fire and EMS,” said Chris Lonnett, vice president, Motorola Solutions. “Your commitment to training and conditioning prepared you to act quickly and make steadfast decisions in the face of extreme danger and pressure. On behalf of Motorola Solutions, the IAFC and the communities you serve, thank you for your bravery. Because of you, a life was saved, and a man was able to return home to his loved ones.”
Medals of Honor were presented to Kaake, Prosser and Abbatiello on Aug. 25 at Fire-Rescue International in San Antonio, TX.
About the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)
The IAFC represents the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide. IAFC members are the world's leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials spills, natural disasters, search and rescue, and public safety legislation. Since 1873, the IAFC has provided a forum for its members to exchange ideas, develop professionally and uncover the latest products and services available to first responders.
About Motorola Solutions
Motorola Solutions is a global leader in public safety and enterprise security. Our solutions in land mobile radio communications, video security & access control and command center software, bolstered by managed & support services, create an integrated technology ecosystem to help make communities safer and businesses stay productive and secure. At Motorola Solutions, we’re ushering in a new era in public safety and security. Learn more at motorolasolutions.com