In his line of work, Gary Hass is used to thinking fast on his feet and dealing with life or death emergencies.
But usually the heroics don't start until the Fort Erie resident is punched in for his shifts as an advanced care paramedic for Niagara Emergency Medical Service's, the Region's paramedic service.
But one day last August, Hass - still off-duty - was heading in from home to start a shift when he saw a car crash into the Niagara River from the Niagara Parkway.
Disregarding his own safety, Hass jumped in to save four people trapped in the partially submerged car.
For those actions, Hass was presented with the Regional Chair's Award for Valor at the annual Niagara EMS awards presentations at regional council June 3.
Regional Chair Peter Partington, who presented Hass with the award, said Hass acted without hesitation, saving the people and providing them with emergency medical care until other paramedics and firefighters arrived to take over.
"It was clearly an act of heroism," Partington said. "Without hesitation, he put himself at risk and danger to rescue others...truly defining what is bravery."
Paramedic of the Year was awarded to Danny Kerr to honour his contribution of outstanding service to the public, co-workers and the community.
Shane Eikmann, a primary care paramedic, was presented the Public Health and Social Services Award in recognition of his commitment and dedication to the advancement and promotion of Niagara EMS, its principles of service and caring for the community.
Ritch Lowell was presented with the Systems Status Controller of the Year Award. The award is presented to a Dispatcher who contributes outstanding service to the public, co-workers, and the community.
Partington thanked Niagara's paramedics on behalf of Niagara residents for their "dedication, compassion, professionalism and often bravery."