David Mendez

RBFD’s Poirier awarded top national honor

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Redondo Beach Firefighter and Harbor Patrolman David Poirier with Fire Chief Bob Metzger at the 2016 South Bay Medal of Valor Awards. Photo by David Mendez

by David Mendez

Redondo Beach Firefighter and Harbor Patrolman David Poirier was awarded the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor by President Donald Trump in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on Tuesday. Poirier was among 12 officers who were recognized, including six responders to the 2015 San Bernardino mass shooting.

The award is one of the nation’s highest honors.

“The 12 patriots we honor today come from many places and serve in many different roles, but they all share one thing in common: When faced with danger, they each put the lives of others before their own,” President Trump said.

Poirier, a rescue swimmer, was honored for the Feb. 27, 2016, rescue of three people who were swept into the ocean from the Redondo Breakwall, amid raging waves.

The rescue took place around 11:15 p.m., after bystanders heard cries for help from the victims, two men and two women. After arriving on a Harbor Patrol boat, Poirier rescued one victim from the water. Then he rescued two others from the base of the break wall.

“While we were going back out to his location, another wave came over the wall, which engulfed all of them,” RBFD Division Chief Mark Winter said at the time. “To my amazement, when the wave cleared, Poirier was holding onto two of the female victims.”

The three rescued victims were taken to Harbor General Hospital in critical condition. The fourth, One Nguyen, was found unresponsive and without a pulse and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Poirier was awarded the 2017 South Bay Medal of Valor for his efforts, his second straight year receiving the honor. He received the 2016 South Bay Medal of Valor for a 40-minute rescue of a man who “resisted all efforts of assistance,” according to RBFD Chief Bob Metzger.

“It’s great to see our local public safety professionals getting national recognition,” Mayor Bill Brand said. “Everyone who’s been out there in the harbor knows what a great job those guys do.”

Poirier will be recognized by the City of Redondo Beach during the March 6 City Council meeting.

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