August 6, 2010
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Miami - Jose Jimenez, a canine officer at the South Florida Reception Center, was honored recently for acts of valor by Secretary Walt McNeil at a Medal of Valor ceremony in Miami.
Jimenez was recognized for his actions on September 3, 2009 when, despite being burned over 60 percent of his body, he re-entered a burning building several times to save his four-month-old daughter Jolyn and his grandparents.
He is also credited for pulling his brother-in-law from a burning boat where the two had been working when the fire began.
The then-25-year-old officer has also been named a recipient of the 2010 American Correctional Officer Life Saving Medal of Honor. Henry Ruiz, chairman of the ACO’s medal of honor awards committee said Jimenez will receive his medal at an awards ceremony in Bloomington, MN in September.
Warden David Harris, who recommended Jimenez for the award, described the situation Jimenez faced.
“On September 3, 2009 Corrections Canine Officer Jimenez and his brother-in-law were working on a boat under an aluminum carport in Miami when it somehow caught fire.
“The flames spread quickly to two adjacent homes, which had family members inside.”
Despite being seriously burned, Jimenez pulled his brother-in-law from the flames and went on to rescue his other family members and three dogs. He even had the presence of mind to gather vehicle keys to move the family cars away from the flames.
When first responders arrived on the scene, they called in a helicopter to air lift Jimenez and his brother-in-law to the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center burn unit. Jimenez was put on a respirator but showed signs of lung damage so he was put into a medically-induced coma to allow his respiratory system to heal. He was in hospital for almost a full month.
Jimenez says he has been a correctional officer since 2006 and loves his job. He says he is 95 percent back to normal. His daughter and his other family members are also doing well.
He said that during his recuperation his co-workers pulled together for his family, for which he expresses great gratitude. “I just want to thank everybody who helped me and my family through this,” he said. “It meant a lot to us.”