VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - Two Virginia Beach firefighters were among 18 public safety officers to receive the Medal of Valor Wednesday at the White House.
The ceremony was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House grounds. Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder presented the awards.
Master Firefighter Hope Scott and Battalion Chief William "Billy" Reynolds from Virginia Beach received the award for their actions Oct. 12, 2010 that saved the life of 1-year-old Diamond Sykes. When fire crews arrived on scene, they found heavy fire and two occupants trying to re-enter the home.
The occupants were screaming that a baby and the great-grandmother were still inside the home and heavy smoke and heat kept them from going back in.
Reynolds and Scott entered the home without the protection of a fire hose, a high risk maneuver. Once inside, the pair encountered high heat and zero visibility. The heat was so bad, Scott could feel it through her protective gear, but the two continued to search for the baby.
Scott thought she heard a faint cry about two minutes into the search and began sweeping the floor with her arms. She then found the Sykes lying on a mattress on the floor and handed the little girl to Reynolds, who passed her on to firefighters outside the second-floor window.
After finding Sykes, Scott and Reynolds continued to search for the great-grandmother and located her unconscious and unresponsive on the stairs leading to the second floor. She unfortunately passed away three days later.
"Thank you so much," Diamond's mother told Scott and Reynolds. "I'm so happy that you saved her life and may God bless you many more."
Skyes made a full recovery.
In 2011, Scott and Reynolds were awarded the Commonwealth Medal of Valor for their actions.
The Medal of Valor is the nation's highest honor for public safety officers. For more information on how recipients are nominated, click here .
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