South Whidbey Fire/EMS honored volunteer fire fighters , Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), and their families, at its annual awards dinner on Saturday, March 10 at Useless Bay Golf and Country Club. The event opened with a presentation of the colors by the Navy Sea Cadets Honor Guard, accompanied by Snohomish County Firefighters Pipes and Drums.

Special guest speaker was John Graham, founder of the Giraffe Heroes Project, whose world headquarters is based in Langley on Whidbey Island. The project’s mission is to move people to “stick their necks out” to get involved in solving public problems of all kinds, while giving them tools to succeed. Graham shared his dramatic life story, which included work in the Foreign Service. While at the United Nations he was deeply involved in U.S. initiatives in South Africa, South Asia and Cuba.

“A full life demands passionate involvement, and that often means taking risks. The most significant risks challenge not just the body, but the soul,” Graham said. “Like many of you, I have found the meaning of my life in service. I challenge each of you to find what makes your life truly meaningful and then go for it with everything you have.”

The Carl Simmons Officer of the Year was presented to Marie St. Amand. District Firefighter of the Year was Travis Zimmerman. Other Station Firefighters honored were Sean McDougald, Station 36; and Jeff Simmons, Station 31.

For the second consecutive year, AJ Agnew was named District EMT of the year. One Station EMT recognized was Naomi Blair, Station 36. She was also named both District Recruit and District Rookie of the Year.

Chief H.L. “Rusty” Palmer also presented several special honors this year. “These individuals have displayed great integrity, service and trust, which exemplify the values we aspire to provide to our community,” he said. “Significant actions must be taken by first responders in order to receive these high honors.”

The Lifesaver Medal is one of the five highest awards presented by South Whidbey Fire/EMS. Jon Gabelein and Deputy Chief Wendy Moffatt were presented the awards for two different, and difficult, scenarios in which their actions saved lives.

Twenty- eight Unit Citations went to:
Toxic Mushrooms Rescue – Christina Turnbull-Agnew, and Carmen Guerra-McAdams;
Marine Rescue – Tom Peterson, Anne Collins, Tom Gideon, Christina Turnbull-Agnew, AJ Agnew, and Sean McDougald;
Putney Woods Rescue – Brent Davison, Robert Husom, Carlee Mills, Marc Swenson, Terry Welch, Jon Gabelein, and Travis Zimmerman; and
CPR Rescue – Jon Beck, Brent Davison, Robert Husom, Terry Welch, Travis Zimmerman, Anne Collins, Sean McDougald, Tony McNair, Rebekah Pomeroy, Ken Starkweather, Brian Boyd, Al Charat, and Jim Towers.

Twelve Letters of Merit went to: Christina Turnbull-Agnew, Anne Collins, Tom Gideon, AJ Agnew, Sean McDougald, Brent Davison, Robert Husom, Terry Welch, Wendy Moffatt, Naomi Blair, Mari St. Amand, Herschel Rostov.

Years of Service Awards were presented to Terry Welch for 15 years; Marie St. Amand for 10 years; and Billy Piepenbrink, James Dobberfuhl, Jeff Cravy, Herschel Rostov, Brent Davision, Anne Collins, and Marc Swenson for five years.

South Whidbey Fire/EMS has provided fire suppression, emergency medical service, marine, and rope rescue to residents and visitors since 1950. Volunteers and staff responded to 2,525 calls in 2017.