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Yosemite rangers, paramedic receive Department of Interior Valor Awards

Sierra Star Staff

At the 73rd Honor Award Convocation Ceremony in Washington, D.C., left to right: Firefighter/Paramedic Nick Bliss, Park Ranger Philip N. Johnson, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Park Ranger Jesse McGahey.
At the 73rd Honor Award Convocation Ceremony in Washington, D.C., left to right: Firefighter/Paramedic Nick Bliss, Park Ranger Philip N. Johnson, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Park Ranger Jesse McGahey.

Two Yosemite National Park rangers and a park paramedic were honored on the Fourth of July at the 73rd Honor Award Convocation Ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Park Ranger Jesse McGahey, Park Ranger Philip N. Johnson and Firefighter/Paramedic Nick Bliss each received the Department of the Interior Valor Award from Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke for heroic actions, courage and professionalism exhibited in the line of duty.

The three were called out on Sept. 27, 2017, after two climbers were injured in a rockfall on the south side of El Capitan.

One climber had been helped out of the rockfall danger zone and had life-threatening injuries; McGahey stabilized the climber and set him up to be taken for more treatment.

Johnson and Bliss went to aid a second climber who was still in the danger zone. The climber was pronounced dead at the scene but the rescuers were able to get his body out of the danger zone.

“Park Rangers and firefighters perform courageous acts that often save the lives of park visitors,” Chief Ranger Kevin Killian said in a statement. “The critical actions, performed professionally under unpredictable and dangerous conditions by Jesse, Philip, and Nick on Sept. 27 were instrumental in saving a life. We are extremely proud to have these three distinguished individuals as part of the Yosemite National Park staff.”

The Valor Award is presented to Department of the Interior employees who have demonstrated unusual courage involving a high degree of personal risk in the face of danger. The act of heroism is not required to be related to official duties or to have occurred at the official duty station. Recipients receive a special certificate and citation signed by the Secretary and an engraved gold Valor award medal.

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