Video: D.C. firefighter presents Medal of Valor to crewmember who saved his life
Sgt. Matthew Westerbeck honored FF-Technician Richard Cunningham for his actions on the scene, rendering aid and directing the crew
By FireRescue1 staff
WASHINGTON — A District of Columbia Fire and EMS firefighter who was seriously burned in an explosion was able to honor his fellow crewmember who saved his life.
Engine 8 Sgt. Matthew Westerbeck presented the department’s Medal of Valor to firefighter technician Richard Cunningham on Thursday for his actions at the scene, rending aid to Westerbeck while still managing the scene.
Fire Chief John Donnelly detailed Cunningham’s efforts to WTOP News: “Cunningham came to the assistance of his injured officer, helping him to dress down and radioing for assistance, while at the same time manning the pump and securing additional water supply needed to battle the expanding blaze. He also provided direction to the shaken crew.”
Westerbeck suffered serious burns to his face but was able to return to work 103 days after the incident.
"I was surrounded by good people and I’m here today because of who I was surrounded by," Westerbeck said.
In September 2020, Firefighter/Tech Richard Cunningham took leadership after his Officer in Charge, Sgt. Matthew Westerbeck, was engulfed in flames at a car fire on M Street SE. Sgt. Westerbeck was given the honor of presenting Firefighter Cunningham with a Bronze Bar for Valor. pic.twitter.com/KBycdsCKLZ— DC Fire and EMS (@dcfireems) December 2, 2021