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Public Safety

San Diego Firefighter To Be Honored For Saving Life Of Fellow Firefighter

San Diego firefighter Alex Wallbrett is pictured in this undated photo.
San Diego Fire-Rescue Department
San Diego firefighter Alex Wallbrett is pictured in this undated photo.

A San Diego firefighter will receive the state's highest award for courageous service above and beyond the call of duty next week in recognition of bravery he displayed during a knife attack on a colleague last year, Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Friday.

Gov. Jerry Brown will award Alex Wallbrett, who works out of San Diego Fire Station 4 in the East Village, with the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor at a ceremony in Sacramento on Monday.

Wallbrett will be the first San Diego emergency-services worker to receive the honor since it was established by the state Legislature in 2003.

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"Alex is truly one of San Diego's finest, and his selfless bravery saved the life of a fellow firefighter," Faulconer said. "His actions prove that San Diego's first responders are second to none. ... Alex does all of San Diego proud in receiving this award."

An area in East Village is pictured blocked off with yellow tape after two firefighters were injured, June 24, 2015.
10News
An area in East Village is pictured blocked off with yellow tape after two firefighters were injured, June 24, 2015.

On June 24, 2015, Wallbrett put himself in harm's way to come to the aid of fellow firefighter Ben Vernon during an otherwise routine medical call. Vernon was attending to a patient at an East Village trolley stop when a male bystander attacked him without warning, stabbing him with a knife several times and puncturing his lung.

Without hesitation, Wallbrett, who was nearby, vaulted a three-foot high barrier and put himself between his partner and the attacker. He protected Vernon from further injury, but Wallbrett was stabbed in the shoulder and back, with one wound perilously close to his spine.

"Alex is certainly deserving of this honor," Fennessy said. "His actions are the very definition of valor: great courage in the face of danger."

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The assailant was convicted of attempted manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon. He is serving a prison sentence of more than 23 years.

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