Idaho resident receives Meritorious Public Service Award for rescue

On behalf of the Coast Guard and Coast Guard 13th District Commander, Rear Adm. Richard Gromlich, Capt. Nathan Knapp and Master Chief Petty Officer Charles Lindsey presented a Meritorious Public Service Award to April Chiuzm at the Blaine County Sherriff’s Office Jan. 16, 2015.

On behalf of the Coast Guard and Coast Guard 13th District Commander, Rear Adm. Richard Gromlich, Capt. Nathan Knapp and Master Chief Petty Officer Charles Lindsey presented a Meritorious Public Service Award to April Chiuzm at the Blaine County Sherriff’s Office Jan. 16, 2015. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Story by Chief Petty Officer Sara Mooers

Magic Reservoir, at 14,000 acres, offers some of Southern Idaho’s best fishing, boating and water skiing at one of nine semi-developed recreation sites managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

It calls to boaters, paddlers and fishermen of all ages. On June 27, 2014, the 55 degree waters had become choppy due to wind and April Chizum had turned her kayak toward shore for what she thought was the end of her day on the lake. That’s when she heard it…faint cries for help.

Chizum immediately pulled out her binoculars and surveyed the lake, locating a small, capsized boat and a family of five in danger. She placed a quick call to emergency responders and then reversed course toward the family, paddling skillfully through the choppy wind-driven waters.

Once on scene she located the father, seven-year-old daughter and three-year-old son. They were frantic and without lifejackets. At risk of capsizing herself, she worked swiftly to calm them. She pulled the son into the kayak with her and directed the daughter and father to hold onto opposite ends of the kayak. Then she paddled to shore with the father kicking at the stern to aid their speed.

While en route, the father expressed concern for his wife and a second three-year-old child. Quickly scouting the area she saw they were already safely ashore, having made it there under their own power. Once she and the trio reached shore Chizum and community members rendered aid to the hypothermic family for 40 minutes until emergency responders arrived.

On behalf of the Coast Guard and Coast Guard 13th District Commander, Rear Adm. Richard Gromlich, Capt. Nathan Knapp, Master Chief Petty Officer Charles Lindsey and Dan Shipman presented a Meritorious Public Service Award to Chiuzm at the Blaine County Sherriff’s Office Jan. 16, 2015. In the award, Gromlich commended Chizum’s determination, outstanding initiative and fortitude.

The award is the second-highest Public Service Award and is given to recognize: unusual courage in advancing a Coast Guard mission, substantial contribution to the Coast Guard that produced tangible results and specific individual accomplishments that provide unique benefits to the public.

The 13th District was created in 1913 and is comprised of more than 3,000 active duty, reserve, civilian and auxiliary personnel at units in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. These units cover more than 460,000 square miles of Pacific Ocean and its navigable rivers and tributaries.

Read more and see a short video of the award from KMVT here.

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