South Bend International Airport’s Department of Public Safety Receives Valor Award

Each year, the Great Lakes Chapter (GLC) of American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) sponsors an award of valor for outstanding performance in Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting (ARFF)/safety. The ARFF award committee presented South Bend International Airport’s (SBN) Department of Public Safety with this year’s ARFF Valor Award for actions performed on March 17, 2013, by its ARFF crews while responding to the Hawker Premier aircraft crash near the airport. The award will be accepted by SBN Department of Public Safety Captain Kevin Matuszak at the monthly St. Joseph County Airport Authority Board of Directors meeting on Thursday, October 23, 2014 at 11:30 a.m. The meeting is open to the public and is held in the Authority’s board room.

The honor recognizes an individual or department who has shown exceptional skills in the workplace as demonstrated by acts of professional service and dedication that resulted directly in saving a human life. “We are all aware of the infrequency of a significant aircraft crash, however any of us in the ARFF industry come to work each day with the mindset of not if, but when it will happen and train as such,” said Mike Ornat, SBN Department of Public Safety Chief.

“Even though there was no fire upon impact, St. Joseph County Airport Authority ARFF command made a quick decision to send an ARFF truck off the airfield to the site of the crash,” said SBN Executive Director Mike Daigle. “This decision saved at least 12 lives that day when a fire broke out during the rescue.”

This award was established to recognize fire rescue personnel within the Chapter who have been nominated by their supervisors for meritorious and dedicated service. Nominations for this award are solicited on a national basis and are reviewed by the Chapter’s ARFF committee.


About the South Bend Airport

South Bend Airport’s three air carriers provide nonstop flights to nine cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Fort Myers/Punta Gorda, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Orlando/Sanford, Phoenix/Mesa, and Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg with connections world-wide. South Bend Airport’s multi-modal terminal serves over one million air, rail and bus passengers each year. According to the 2012 Economic Impact Report from the Aviation Authority of Indiana, the South Bend Airport’s total annual economic impact on South Bend and surrounding communities was in excess of $1.7 billion.

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