Honoring Nantucket's Lifesavers

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Nantucket’s history is filled with stories of heroic lifesaving efforts made by everyday citizens, and those who went above and beyond the call of duty. Honoring that tradition, we gather annually to recognize modern-day lifesavers.

Egan Maritime Board of Trustees, the Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum Advisory Committee, and the Nantucket Cottage Hospital are committed to holding this ceremony on September 11th in recognition of our first responders and Nantucket citizens who go above and beyond the call of duty. We hold this ceremony on September 11th to shine an uplifting and encouraging light on current-day rescues and to make new memories that will never hide or cover the atrocities that happened but can hopefully hope on such a solemn day
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We honored a group of seven individuals and awarded them all the Maurice E. Gibbs Commendation Award.

On July 9th, the historic Veranda House Hotel caught on fire. The actions of the following individuals helped ensure that everyone was able to evacuate the building and that the fire did not spread to the entire downtown. Venessa Smith, a longtime Nantucket resident and valued member of the community was delivering papers early that morning and quickly noticed something was not right. She placed the critical 911 call and started running around the building to wake the guests. Nate Barber, an off-duty fireman was getting coffee when he noticed smoke. He quickly ran to the building and without hesitation ran into the fire to help evacuate all guests and staff. Peter Georgantas was on his morning run when he saw the smoke. He joined Nate inside the burning building and before first responders had arrived, they ran through the fire yelling ‘fire’, and kicking down doors to make sure people weren’t sleeping in their rooms. Venessa, Nate, and Peter were all in attendance on the 11th and received Maurice E. Gibbs Commendation Award. We also acknowledge the heroic actions of the entire Nantucket Fire Department who jumped into action the morning of July 9th.

On June 30th, 2022, Steven Arst, collapsed while biking on the Milestone Road bike path. Sydney MacKeigan was in the right place at the right time. Her quick actions and immediate 911 call started a chain reaction, which ultimately saved Steven's life. Jennifer Decker was on Milestone Road when she saw Sydney and Mr. Arst, she quickly ran to help and began CPR. State Trooper Robert Clouse was in the area when he heard the 911 call , he arrived and took over CPR from Jennifer. Officer Joseph Tirone was nearby as well, he luckily had an AED in his car and jumped into action. Officer Tirone brought the AED from his car and began defibrillation. By the time EMS arrived, Steven Arst, a 72 year old Triathlete in the best of shape, had regained his pulse but not consciousness. These individuals went above and beyond to save Steven's life. Because of their bravery and heroism, we were honored to award them the Maurice E. Gibbs Commendation Award.

The award ceremony included Steven addressing and thanking his rescuers for the first time: “Thank you all for not giving up on me. You accomplished a miracle. First responders were on the way so quickly. That was critically important. Jenn started CPR immediately. This made all the difference in my recovery. I constantly think of what you did for me.”

Representative Dylan Fernandes closed the ceremony by awarding all seven recipients with official Citations.

We are grateful that Rep. Fernandes was able to join us and are honored that he chose to award Official Massachusetts House Citations to all recipients. He also awarded recently retired Fire Chief Steven Murphy a citation recognizing his 35 years of dedicated service to the Nantucket Fire Department.

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To learn more about prior year's recipients: click here.

Inspired to help? Please make a donation to honor all first responders and in support of Lifesavers Recognition Day. Your support allows us to hold this annual event.