By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The annual memorial service honoring the sacrifice of Philadelphia police and firefighters was held today in Franklin Square, near Sixth and Race Streets.
No active fire or police personnel had died in the line of duty since last year’s service, but the most recent hero’s name placed on the “Living Flame” monument was that of Det. Gerry Traynor, who died on Father’s Day, 1987, of a heart attack.
The day before, Traynor had heard another detective’s call for help and found an escaping prisoner attacking his colleague. Traynor helped pulled the attacker off, and went into cardiac arrest the next day.
His son, Gerry Jr., was 21 years old at the time and tried unsuccessfully to revive his dad. Today, he noted that doctors have a new understanding of the causes of heart attack.
“New medical technology is able to show what happens to the body, and this was, without a doubt, in the line of duty,” he said.
Gerry Jr. has been with the Long Beach Township police department, serving several towns on Long Beach Island, for the last 20 years.
Today’s solemn remembrance included mayor Michael Nutter, police commissioner Charles Ramsey, and fire commissioner Lloyd Ayers, who together led a procession of family members of the fallen officers and firefighters who died over the years in service to the city.
Since record-keeping began (in 1828 for police and 1871 for firefighters), 268 Philadelphia police officers and 289 firefighers have died in the line of duty.
Ayers is retiring next month, after 40 years of service to the fire department.