Beyond the Call: Celebrating Acts of Bravery and Compassion

Calgary Fire Department recognizes 16 Calgarians in annual ceremony

Sixteen Calgarians were honoured for their bravery and decisive actions at a recognition event hosted by the Calgary Fire Department today. Fire Chief Steve Dongworth awarded the courageous recipients with certificates of Appreciation, Recognition and medals of Commendation. The recipients were nominated by citizens and members of the Calgary Fire Department for their contribution during incidents in 2019 and 2020.

“Making our City safer is something we strive to do at the Calgary Fire Department every day,” says Chief Dongworth. “It’s our mission to serve the community through excellence in prevention, education, protection and emergency response. However, we can’t execute that mission without assistance from members of our community.”

“Sometimes community members truly become the first of the first responders. Today we recognized some amazing Calgarians that made a choice greater than themselves, acting with bravery and compassion to help others.”

Among the recipients are the following stories:

On March 25, 2019, Leona’s sister collapsed, stopped breathing and was unresponsive. With a background in nursing, Leona was able to act quickly – she started chest compressions and continued until Paramedic Shayna Labbe arrived. Shayna assessed the scene and asked Leona to continue compressions while she connected the monitor. After a short analysis, a shockable rhythm was found and one shock was delivered. Shayna started compressions until fire crews arrived and took over. Leona showed a great confidence and calmness under pressure in a very stressful situation. Shayna showed her professionalism and skill to provide excellent care as a single paramedic working alone. Leona’s sister recovered after a short hospital stay.

While travelling in California in March of 2019, Allan Ball and his wife were second on scene of a high speed, head-on collision which had trapped four people in two cars on a bridge. One vehicle was in the middle of the road and one was mounted on the guard rail of the bridge. Allan took command and utilized other citizens to stabilize the incident and call for assistance, which took a significant time to arrive. Allan poured water on a smoldering vehicle, disabled the vehicle batteries and created a tourniquet from the wreck to assist a woman with an arm injury. He performed exceptionally with minimum support and resources, yet provided the best possible outcomes for the victims.   

On December 13, 2020, Eli Falk and his father were working together on a project in a friend’s garage. A terrible accident happened, and Eli’s father was electrocuted. Eli immediately called his mom Marla, who guided Eli in starting CPR. She then called 9-1-1 and the friend whose garage they were using. The family and friend and Eli continued CPR until fire crews arrived and took over CPR. Tragically, Eli’s dad succumbed to his injuries five days later. However, two other lives were saved when the Falk family generously donated Eli’s Dad’s organs, meaning that there are two heroes in the family.

 On August 24, 2020, Joe Gillis noticed some smoke nearby from his kitchen window. He ran outside and across the back alley where he encountered a large fire that was quickly growing along the outside of the house. He confirmed with another neighbour that 9-1-1 had been called and proceeded to go to the front of the house, enter and yell for any occupants to immediately evacuate. The one person who was home was upstairs and had no idea their house was on fire. Joe’s actions were integral to the resident making it out alive prior to the arrival of fire crews.

Beyond the Call is the Calgary Fire Department’s annual ceremony and luncheon that formally recognizes exceptional acts by citizens and emergency service personnel, both on and off-duty. The award recipients have been nominated by Fire Department members and citizens for their bravery and decisive action, recognizing their outstanding contributions to the health and well-being of fellow citizens.

Members of the public can nominate citizens and emergency service personnel who have acted in an exceptional way during an incident attended by the Calgary Fire Department. To nominate someone, please contact The City’s 311 line and ask to submit your nominee to the Beyond the Call program.

For more information on the Calgary Fire Department, please visit