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BHS grad receives bravery award for Grand Teton rescue

Jonathan Filardo, center, received the Citizen's Award for Bravery earlier this month from Interior Department Deputy Secretary David Hayes, left, and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Filardo was honored for his actions during a 2010 rescue mission in Grand Teton National Park. SUBMITTED PHOTO

BEMIDJI - A 1998 Bemidji High School graduate recently received the Department of the Interior's Citizen's Award for Bravery for his actions during a mountain rescue in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park.

Jonathan Filardo, stationed with the Teton Interagency Helitack for the U.S., received the award from Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and Deputy Secretary David Hayes during a ceremony March 7.

The Teton Interagency Helitack's primary missions are fire management and search and rescue for the Bridger-Teton National Forest and Grand Teton National Park.

In July 2010, 17 climbers were caught in a lightning storm near the summit of the 13,770-foot Grand Teton mountain peak. Filardo was assigned as staging area manager for a rescue mission involving 92 emergency workers.

"He worked closely with the triage physician and the aviation manager to coordinate the evacuation of 16 injured patients," states the Interior Department's certificate awarded to Filardo. "Through high winds and thunderstorms that continued to pummel the Teton Range, Mr. Filardo received patients from the upper mountain and assisted in their evacuation via helicopter to ambulances waiting on the valley floor (elevation 6,750 feet).

"Despite the chaotic situation and stormy weather conditions, Mr. Filardo remained calm and collected throughout the incident. His efforts were instrumental in saving the lives of the victims."

According to the Interior Department, the Citizen's Award for Bravery is "granted to private citizens for heroic acts or unusual bravery in the face of danger."

Recipients must have risked their lives to save the life of a departmental employee or the life of another person while on property owned or managed by the agency.

Filardo, who lives in Victor, Idaho, is a former BHS state-ranked cross country skier and NCAA All American. He is a coach with the Jackson Hole Ski Club in Wyoming and the son of John and Karen Filardo of Bemidji. His grandparents are Art and Neen Lillquist of Guthrie.