Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Devoted emergency responders earn recognition

Mat-Su | Patty Sullivan | Wednesday, March 01, 2006

WASILLA - Sheer devotion, strategic attack lines, and compassion for patients are some of the strengths of the 11 emergency responders with the Central MAT-SU Fire Department who were honored last night. The annual ceremony, held at the Central MAT-SU Public Safety Building in Wasilla, highlights those firefighters and medics whose actions stood out in 2005. In the Wasilla-Lakes Fire Service Area all firefighters are paid only on calls. They are often at work elsewhere, jobs such as an IT technician or a bread delivery truck driver, when their pager goes off and pulls them to a fire. Firefighters from Central are dispatched across 150 square miles. The Ambulance area is even larger. "They ran more than 4,000 calls, that's a big number for an on-call service to do,"said Assistant Central Fire Chief Michael Keenan. "That's very busy for any service to deal with. You're asking 170 people to take time out of their normal lives to help others. In 2005, EMS responded to 3,052 calls, most of them emergencies. Fire and rescue crews dealt with two bomb scares, five water rescues, 48 smoke scares, 35 vehicle fires, 26 flammable spills among their 1,106 calls. "I'm thankful for all the great members we have, and all the family members who support them,"said Central Fire Chief Jack Krill Jr. At the ceremony Tuesday night, Deputy Mayor Jim Colver congratulated responders and gave a Mayoral proclamation to Josh Standifird, the Responder of the Year. "I'm very proud of our responders. Their volunteerism saves many lives in the Valley at great sacrifice to their personal lives. "Colver said he was impressed by two particularly complex incidents. One included a fork lift that tipped over pinning the operator in a ditch alongside Knik-Goose Bay Road. "It took the work of all our resources: fire, rescue, and EMS to extricate him safely,"Colver said. Another incident involved a large fire at Wolverine Supply Inc. off the Parks Highway. "It happened at a time when a national fire conference was in town,"Colver said. "Firefighters from out-of-state recognized the highly professional job that all Valley fire departments performed and which Central coordinated. Assemblywoman Mary Kvalheim represents Wasilla. "I absolutely love going to that ceremony,"Kvalheim said. "You see all these wonderful people who give so much. The spouses put up with the training, and the middle-of-the-night phone call, and the husband or wife running out the door. Other awards went to the crews who responded to highlighted incidents, as well as education work, among others. Kvalheim was struck by the horrendous nature of some of the calls. "They had to extricate a guy whose vehicle ran into a tree. The tree went through a windshield. It had to be unnerving to face what they had to face. They got him out, and he lived, but you can tell how much it bothers them when they aren't able to save victims. They give and give and give,"Kvalheim said. The 11 Responders of the Year are: Josh Standifird, Overall Responder of the Year. Standifird was nominated Responder of the Year by his peers and further selected as the overall Responder of the Year by the Command Staff of the Department. He has been with the Department only four years but has excelled at all levels including becoming an EMT III, Rescue Technician and Firefighter. He is one our most active members. He is crossed- trained in all three disciplines of emergency response. In addition, Standifird has taken on the added responsibility of maintaining the supplies for the ambulance service. Tracey Ball, EMT I of the Year. Ball has excellent patient care skills and compassion. The sheer number of hours she gives shows how devoted she is to the Department. David Angaiak, Firefighter of the Year. Angaiak has been with the Department for more than two years and has been a solid firefighter. He came to us with previous experience and has used that knowledge to excel. He is now certified as an engineer. Shawn Brown, EMT II of the Year. Brown has six years of experience with the Department and has been recognized as an outstanding EMT II. He has strong technical skills and provides excellent patient care. He is also cross-trained in both the fire and rescue sides of emergency response. Dorte Mobley, Engineer of the Year. Mobley joined the Department in Oct. 1992. She has been a solid responder all of those years and is now recognized as the Engineer of the Year. She demonstrated her engineering skills on the Wolverine fire by supplying multiple attack lines with water and foam for more than eight hours. Jimmy Johnson, EMT III of the Year. Johnson has been a member of the MAT-SU Borough EMS since Oct. 1986. He is one of our best ACLS providers operating with a level head and strong skills. He is one of only a handful of personnel who can fill in as a Medic 1 and does so often. Tawnya Hightower, Lieutenant of the Year. Hightower has been with the Department for more than 15 years. She is a Lieutenant at Station 6-2 on the Knik-Goose Bay Road. She works hard and acts like a leader. Ginny Gee, Paramedic of the Year. Gee was nominated as Paramedic of the Year for her solid, advanced skills, her experience and her compassion for patients. She is always offering to fill in on shifts and to help cover the area when needed. Randy Newcomb, Captain of the Year. Newcomb has been with the Department for more than 10 years. He is the Captain at Stations 6-2/6-4. His strong leadership style and experience make him a go-to type of responder. Greg Adamietz, Rescue Technician of the Year. Adamietz has six years with the Department. He is a Lieutenant and in charge of the equipment on Rescue 6-1. He is one of our most active members and consistently demonstrates his ability to size-up a rescue situation and come up with a game plan for a successful rescue. Tommy Hightower, Explorer of the Year. Hightower is 16-years-old and has been with Explorer Post 465 for two years. He has completed both the basic and advanced firefighter training classes and is very active with the Department.