San Diego firefighter and Local 145 member Alex Wallbrett was awarded the Governor's Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor in recognition of the heroic actions he took to stop a life-threatening assault on a colleague.
Wallbrett's actions took place on June 24, 2015, when his crew was providing medical treatment to a sick and intoxicated patient at San Diego's downtown trolley station. A bystander, who refused orders to back away from the patient, began swinging a knife at firefighter Ben Vernon. The attacker stabbed Firefighter Vernon twice in the torso.
Without hesitation and regard for his own safety, Wallbrett jumped a metal fence and rushed to Firefighter Vernon's aid, placing himself between his partner and the knife wielding suspect.
Wallbrett wrestled with the attacker, preventing further injury to his partner. During the struggle, he was stabbed three times, including a stab wound close to his spine. The suspect was eventually subdued by other fire department personnel and officers from the Metropolitan Transit System. Firefighter Vernon suffered a broken rib and collapsed lung.
Both Vernon Wallbrett have made full recoveries and returned to duty.
The Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor Act of 2003 gives the Governor the authority to award a Medal of Valor to public safety officers who are cited by the Attorney General for extraordinary valor above and beyond the call of duty. The Attorney General's Office receives nominations from public safety agencies. These nominations are reviewed by the Medal of Valor Review Board, which makes a recommendation to the Attorney General.