Valor Award Recipient
The Award for Valor is presented to a member or employee of a campus public safety, police or security department for an act or acts involving personal risk while acting on behalf of the college/university or members of the college/university community.
2022 Recipient of the IACLEA Award for Valor
Lt. Ian McAllister, Sgt. Joel Abernathy, Acting Sgt. Mark Bailey and Ofc. Josiah Evans, Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department
This year’s Award for Valor was presented to Lt. Ian McAllister, Sgt. Joel Abernathy, Acting Sgt. Mark Bailey and Ofc. Josiah Evans of the Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department.
On the night of January 23, 2021, these four officers responded to a fire at the Dominion Place retirement home adjacent to VCU’s Monroe Park Campus.
Arriving at the scene, Sgt. Abernathy and Ofc. Evans identified the fire's location on the fourth floor’s west wing, and without hesitation, both officers ran into the building to evacuate elderly residents. At the same time Sgt. Bailey and Lt. McAllister responded to the west wing stairwell to do the same.
Battling heavy smoke, Abernathy and Evans reached the third floor, encountered a resident suffering from severe smoke inhalation, and carried the resident down the stairs and out of the building to receive medical treatment. At the same time, Sgt. Bailey and Lt. McAllister responded to the west wing stairwell and assisted a second elderly resident suffering from smoke inhalation, evacuating her for medical treatment.
Sgt. Bailey returned to the west wing but was turned back by heavy smoke in the stairwell. He then responded to the first floor and assisted with evacuating residents. By this time, Evans and McAllister were able to make it to the third floor directly below the fire, where they found several elderly residents, most in wheelchairs or walkers as well as one prone resident unable to move. Evans and McAllister picked the woman up, gathered the remaining residents in the hallway and moved them through heavy smoke to the east wing.
Evacuation continued, as Richmond Fire advised that the blaze was a 2-alarm fire. Ofc. Evans responded to the upper floors to help residents who could not evacuate. Lt. McAllister opened one of VCU’s academic buildings across the street to provide shelter from the sub-freezing temperatures for the evacuees, many of whom were drenched from the activation of fire sprinklers. Sgt. Bailey started moving all residents into the lobby where Richmond Ambulance had established triage to evaluate residents.
During this time, Sgt. Abernathy and Officer Evans made countless trips into Dominion Place to continue to assist with the evacuation.
Because they knew that many of the disabled and elderly residents were subject to high risk of severe injury or death if not evacuated quickly, each officer made the conscious decision to enter the burning building. While all four officers suffered mild smoke inhalation, because of their valorous efforts there were no fatalities in this fire.
Past Award Recipients:
2020 - Police Officer Ryan Persails, Saginaw Valley State University
2019 - Officer Nicholas B. Finch, Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department
2008 - Virginia Tech Police Department - Officer Geoffrey Allen, Lieutenant Curtis Cook, Sergeant Thomas Gallemore, Detective Daniel Hardy, Officer Dean Lucas, Sergeant Jaret Reece, Sergeant Sean Smith, Officer Keith Weaver, and Officer Larry Wooddell
Photo Credit: © Mike Ritter