A broken femur, cracked pelvis, shattered elbow, and herniated discs in his neck wouldn’t stop Ottawa Fire Captain John Chatterton from sacrificing his own life for his colleague’s life.
“(I would) do the same thing in a heartbeat,” said Chatterton.
He’s one of three Ottawa-area men honoured for their bravery Friday at Rideau Hall.
Chatterton, Ottawa Police Const. Alain Rochette and OPP Const. Darrell Wagner of Petawawa were among 42 people receiving Medals of Bravery from Canada’s governor general.
Chatterton was recognized for helping two fellow firefighters escape a burning building on Feb. 12, 2007.
As flames raged at their backs and his helmet and radio melted in the extreme heat, thick smoke blocked their exit.
Jumping from the third floor was their only way out.
Chatterton, a Lieutenant at the time, directed his crew to jump first, then exited himself.
“I brought them in there, it’s my job to get them out,” said Chatterton, who was nominated for the award by his colleagues.
“My father was a firefighter — he was a fire chief — and I learned that at a very young age.”
All three firefighters suffered injuries.
Chatterton also had second-degree burns to 10 per cent of his body.
Rochette and Const. Sean Ralph tried to save a woman being attacked by a knife-wielding man in an Ottawa home on Dec. 8, 2005.
When they arrived at the residence, the attacker grabbed his victim and went into her basement apartment, shutting and locking the door. The officers finally succeeded in kicking in a small portion of the bottom of the door and, not knowing what they might face inside, entered.
They got the man to surrender his weapon and arrested him, but the woman didn’t survive the attack.
“I feel honoured (to get the medal) but at the same time, it brings back sad memories,” said an emotional Rochette.
“When you can save the person it’s always better. You feel better, but I think we did what we could, the fastest we could. We did our best.”
Const. Ralph received his medal of bravery at a previous ceremony.
In another rescue mission, Const. Wagner saved a man’s life in treacherous rapids along the Ottawa River near Pembroke on July 22, 2007.
He grabbed an inner tube, manoeuvred to the victim and managed to pull him against the flotation device until help could arrive.
Two people also received Stars of Courage, presented by Governor-General David Johnston.