Two local residents were honoured as Hometown Heroes Thursday, October 13, at the Chestermere Fire Hall for their selfless acts of courage in the community.
Introduced this year, the Hometown Heroes program recognizes City of Chestermere residents who selflessly made a significant effort to help in an emergency where people or property were in danger. The recipients are nominated through Chestermere Emergency Services, and the winners chosen by Fire Chief Jamie Coutts.
Chestermere residents Rodney Cole and Kevin Aneca were announced as the first two to receive the award for their acts of heroism in the community.
In 2021, Cole was on his way to work early one morning when he spotted a glow coming from the front porch of a home. He stopped, called 911 and proceeded to evacuate the four residents in the home. He then used a neighbour’s hose to help hold the fire at bay until firefighters arrived to extinguish it. No one was hurt, and the emergency had a positive outcome thanks to his quick thinking and brave actions.
“I am glad I was in the right place at the right time,” said Cole following the presentation. “Hopefully, more people would do it.”
As for Aneca, he was presented the award for his actions in May of this year for helping to save a man from the frigid waters of Chestermere Lake. The man had mechanical issues with his jet ski and was trying to swim and pull it to shore. After being immersed in the 8C water, he ran into trouble and began to yell for help. Aneca heard him and set out, in the dark at this point, to locate the source of the calls.
He located the man, pulled the hypothermic jetskier out of the water, and assisted him in getting to a safe, warm place before Emergency Services were called. Upon their arrival, the patient was severely hypothermic. Seconds mattered in this situation, and Aneca’s valiant efforts saved a City of Chestermere resident.
Aneca said at the time, he did not realize the full seriousness of the situation, and it wasn’t until two weeks later, when he received a thank you card with a simple note that said, “You saved my life,” that he realized what his actions meant.
“I would have done it for anybody, and I think everyone else would as well,” Aneca said. “I feel honoured that the Fire Service takes it seriously like this. It touched me, and I hope everyone in the community would act the same way, and I think they would.”
In recognition of their extraordinary efforts, Mayor Jeff Colvin added his accolades.
“I’d like to commend these hometown heroes for all their efforts,” Mayor Colvin told the crowd. “Stepping into action when there’s trouble is really what brings our city together. Acting when someone called for help or noticing something wasn’t quite right made a marked difference in these people’s lives, I am certain they will never forget it.”
“Your compassion towards your fellow neighbours is commendable, and we are proud of your willingness to assist when trouble arises,” Mayor Colvin added. “Dedicating this evening to Kevin and Rodney is a small gesture to show our gratitude because they deserve to be celebrated like the heroes they are.”
The ceremony also recognized Chestermere Firefighter Brant Edlund with the first-ever Wayne Paquette Memorial Above and Beyond Award. Firefighter Edlund received the award for his work in upgrading the Chestermere Fire Service’s critical communication radios to a new digital system. This was a large undertaking but essential to firefighter safety.
The Wayne Paquette Memorial Above and Beyond award is named after Chestermere’s first Fire Chief and is presented to a recipient who exemplifies the values Paquette lived and led with.