FREELAND, WA — South Whidbey Fire/EMS honored volunteer fire fighters and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) at its annual awards dinner on Saturday, March 16 at Useless Bay Golf and Country Club. Volunteers and staff responded to 2,697 calls in 2018, breaking records set for all previous years of emergency service provided to the South Whidbey community.
The evening opened with a moving performance of patriotic songs by the South Whidbey High School choral group. Langley Police Department Acting Chief Donald Lauer gave a personal and inspiring speech, noting the partnership between law enforcement and all first responders.
Chief H.L. “Rusty” Palmer presented the Lifesaver Medal, one of the highest awards presented by South Whidbey Fire/EMS to Eldon Baker, Terry Welch, Ken Starkweather, Paul Shimada, and Travis Zimmerman. “This medal is given to those individuals who, without the direct assistance of any other person, saved the life of another,” according to Chief Palmer.
The Carl Simmons Officer of the Year was presented to Tom Gideon by Commissioner Kenon Simmons. The award is named to honor his father who volunteered with the department from 1954 to 2005.
“Many people see a fire engine or hear an ambulance and become worried,” he said. “I don’t, because I know you are on your way. I know that sound signals your arrival to save someone’s life and property. I know that when you get there, they will feel an overwhelming sense of relief and gratitude. You are everyday heroes and this community is lucky to have you.”
District Recruit of the Year was Rene Kisner. District EMT of the Year was Pat McMahon. EMTs Carmen McAdams Guerra and Naomi Blair were also recognized by their stations.
District Firefighter of the Year was A.J Agnew. Firefighters Brian Boyd and Rebekah Pomeroy were also recognized by their stations.
A special Community Service Citation was presented to Crystal and Eldon Baker, owners of All Whidbey Topsoil and Construction.
An unexpected presentation was made by the members themselves to Chief H.L. “Rusty” Palmer, to express their gratitude for the new Station 36 at Bayview. The new station has been a dream for the community for over 10 years, and will be completed by fall 2019.
Robert Husom received an individual Letter of Merit for organizing the departments presence at the Island County Fair. Another individual Letter of Merit was presented to Jeff Simmons for his contribution to Fire Prevention Week. Ken Lindenstein was also recognized with an individual Letter of Merit.
A Unit Citation for Exceptional Service during a marine fire rescue went to: Billy Piepenbrink, Robbie Husom, Tom Gideon, A.J. Agnew, and Sean McDougald.
A Unit Citation for Exceptional Service during an airplane crash rescue went to: Jon Beck, Eldon Baker, Jake Newling, Ken Starkweather, Hershel Rostov, Chris Blasko, Brent Davison, Judith Canfield, A.J. Agnew, Paul Shimada, Kristi Ingram, Robbie Husom, Chuck Baker, Al Charat, Marc Swenson , TerryWelch, Tom Gideon, Sean McDougald, and Dennis Batey.
Additional Letters of Merit were presented to: Melissa Simmons, Marc Swenson, Christina Turnbull-Agnew, Michael O’Brien, Ken Lindenstein, Jeff Simmons, Robyn Porter, Leah Kalahiki, Rene Kinser, John LeDrew, Pat McMahon, A.J. Agnew, Dennis Batey, Brian Boyd, Anne Collins, Mike Cotton, Jon Gabelein, Hershel Rostov, Paul Shimada, Jesse Jennings, Robbie Husom, and Tom Gideon.
Years of Service awards were presented to: Jeff Simmons for 20 years; Vicki Lange for 15 years; Kathy Eyth, Pat McMahon, and Tom Gideon for 10 years; and Brian Boyd, Ken Lindenstein, A.J. Agnew, Kelly Cammermeyer and Ashley Taylor for 5 years.
South Whidbey Fire/EMS has provided fire suppression, emergency medical service, marine, and rope rescue to residents and visitors since 1950.