1984 Iditarod Champion Dean Osmar found himself in the spotlight again last week, but this time it wasn't for winning a dog sled race. Osmar was selected to receive the Governor's Emergency Medical Services Citizen Award, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly unanimously passed a resolution commending him for achieving the high honor.
The Governor singled out Osmar, a set net fisherman, for his response to an emergency situation last summer, "It was one of the roughest days of the year, we had put our gear away and were having dinner when we noticed a couple of helicopters circling about two miles off shore. I got my binoculars out and happened to see a rescue guy jump into the water from the helicopter. So I rushed down to the beach, which was only 100 yards away, and asked my crew if they wanted to volunteer to see what we could do, figuring there must be someone in the water, and we headed out into the surf which was still about 6 foot waves and pretty windy," said Osmar. Assisted by crew members Bart Klonizos and Ryan Roemisch, Osmar was able get one of the victims out of the water and into the skiff, "It was too rough to pluck him out of the water with the helicopter, and it seemed like forever getting him to shore where he could be picked up by the chopper because it was so rough. Ryan and Bart started CPR on him and we got a pulse a couple of times, but he had been in the water for over three hours. When we hit the shore there was an ambulance and some expert medical people who took over," said Osmar.
The Resolution honored Osmar and his crew along with David Blanchard and his wife and crew for their selfless efforts in assisting the rescue agencies, which contributed to the successful outcome of the operation. Osmar has participated in a couple of other rescues off his beach, snatching fisherman from the water, but never anyone who had been in the water for that length of time.
The veteran dog musher will be returning to the Iditarod Trail this year for the first time in 19 years. "I've run a few other shorter races, but this will be my first time back to the Iditarod since I retired," said Osmar, who isn't looking to be the first one to Nome this time. "I trained for years and years to achieve that goal and was obsessed with winning it in '84, but I achieved that goal, and I'm running this time for a different reason. I want to go out with my young team and have fun running with my son Tim, Rick Swenson, Jerry Riley and a few of my other friends for a few days, but I don't have a winning team this year," added Osmar, who nevertheless will go out as a sentimental favorite of many mushing fans on the Peninsula.
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