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Heroes celebrated at Imagery

First responders reunited with those they saved
Heroes celebrated at Imagery
Kenwood Firefighters Robert Molesworth (left) and Doug Todd reunited with Jennifer Beloz, husband Alex, and son Julian. On September 12, 2021, Beloz’s vehicle was struck head-on by a truck that had crossed into her lane on Sonoma Highway west of Oakmont. Molesworth and Todd extricated Beloz from her vehicle using power tools and with a large contingent of fire and emergency medical service providers and equipment from the Santa Rosa Fire Department, saved her life.Photo by Jesse Holman

The Sonoma County Paramedic Association, a nonprofit organization that promotes emergency awareness and education for its members and the public, celebrates 30 years as an organization this year. The association’s Survivors’ Reunion event, part of National EMS Awareness Week and promoted by the American College of Emergency Physicians, celebrates the people who experienced a near catastrophic event and are alive because of the rescuers who selflessly give of themselves each and every day.

This special Reunion of Survivors with their rescuers offers a great opportunity for some hugs, tears, and great memories.

This year’s survivor, a Glen Ellen woman, was driving home from work, eastbound on Highway 12 just west of Oakmont, when a truck crossed into her lane and struck her headon. She was seriously injured and had to be extricated from her severely damaged vehicle with power tools. Kenwood Fire Department firefighters Robert Molesworth and Doug Todd responded, along with a large contingent of fire and emergency medical service providers and equipment from the Santa Rosa Fire Department, Sonoma Life Support, and the Santa Rosa Police Department. Each of the rescuers received certificates of recognition from local members of Congress and state legislators.

The Reunion of Survivors event originated in the fall of 1993 when Kent Coxon, the director of the Sonoma County EMS Agency (later regionalized and named the Coastal Valleys EMS Agency), and Ken Bradford, chairman of the Sonoma County Paramedic Association, met to discuss ways the agency and the SCPA could work together to elevate public and professional awareness. Coxon discussed a Survivors’ Reunion he had been involved with in Fresno County, prior to coming to Sonoma County. He described how during the reunion survivors of near-catastrophic events, involving major trauma or critical medical events that resulted in sudden death or cardiac arrest, were brought together with their “rescuers” and a “celebration of life” occurred.

Coxon and Bradford brought the idea to the board of directors and membership of the SCPA. The idea was received wholeheartedly, and the membership acted quickly to launch the first annual event in May 1994.

A location was needed for the Survivors’ Reunion and SCPA member Chris Benziger, an emergency medical technician and volunteer firefighter at the Glen Ellen Fire Department at the time, quickly stepped forward. Benziger Family Winery offered its beautiful property as the backdrop for the event. The Benziger Family had always been a supporter of public safety, and once again they stepped up to provide a great location at no cost to the SCPA.

The Survivors’ Reunion has grown over the past 28 years and has become the defining event in Sonoma County for the recognition of EMS professionals and the agencies and hospitals that support them.