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GREENSBURG, Pa. - An elderly couple narrowly escaped serious injury after their car caught fire, thanks to a Verizon employee who sacrificed his own safety to avert a potential disaster.
In recognition of his heroic deeds, Todd Keyser, a Verizon service technician from Greensburg, recently received the company's Theodore N. Vail Bronze Medal, one of the highest awards given by Verizon to employees for acts of exceptional public service.
Amy McDevitt, president of national operations for Verizon's Mid-Atlantic region, recently presented Keyser the medal and a citation at a luncheon ceremony at Vallozzi's Restaurant attended by Keyser's family, friends and co-workers.
"Todd's selfless actions went above and beyond the call of duty," said McDevitt. "He demonstrated exceptional resourcefulness and courage that truly embodies the spirit of the Vail Medal."
While travelling on Route 30 to a service call in Derry in February last year, Keyser noticed sparks flying from the back of a car up ahead. As he came closer, he realized that the vehicle's left rear tire was missing and the car was on fire. Keyser immediately called 911 on his Verizon Wireless phone to summon help.
Realizing that every second was crucial, Keyser continuously honked his truck's horn and flashed its lights to attract the driver's attention. The driver noticed Keyser trying to flag him down and turned into a nearby parking lot. Keyser pulled up behind the burning vehicle and grabbed a fire extinguisher from the back of his trunk.
Disregarding his own safety, Keyser helped the elderly driver and his wife from the burning Buick Century and led them away from the car. Fearing that the fire in the wheel well could cause an explosion, Keyser used the extinguisher to bring the fire under control. However, the heat was so intense that the fire kept re-igniting. Keyser continued to battle the blaze until his extinguisher was empty. A Pennsylvania State Police trooper then arrived on the scene and tried to put out the flames.
Once the state police arrived, Keyser ran into the street and directed traffic, keeping a lane open for the fire department. Within several minutes, the Brandenville Fire Department arrived and successfully extinguished the fire. The fire department credited Keyser with containing the fire, saving the lives of the driver and his passenger, and saving others from injury.
The Vail Medal was created in 1920 in memory of Theodore N. Vail, the first president of the Bell System, to honor his contributions to the business and to perpetuate his ideals of public service. The medal traditionally recognizes employees for outstanding acts of public service that exemplify Vail's beliefs. A local Verizon awards committee considers the merits of each case on the basis of demonstrated courage, initiative, good judgment, resourcefulness and accomplishment. The bronze medal is awarded to an individual for an act or service beyond what is normally expected of an individual in an emergency.
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 112 million access line equivalents and 27 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with approximately 260,000 employees and more than $65 billion in annual revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.