Firefighters, EMTs and others win awards at fire district banquet

Kevin Craig, winner of the Firefighter of the Year for 2007 award, stands on a firefighting rig at the Clinton Fire Station. - Spencer Webster / The Record
Kevin Craig, winner of the Firefighter of the Year for 2007 award, stands on a firefighting rig at the Clinton Fire Station.
— image credit: Spencer Webster / The Record

Kevin Craig is ‘Firefighter of the Year’

FREELAND — Firefighters, emergency medical technicians and other personnel from Fire District 3 were recently recognized by their peers for outstanding service to the community.

Kevin Craig, of Clinton, walked away the big winner for “Firefighter of the Year.” It was the second year in a row that he has won the award, district officials said.

Craig has only been in the district for just barely three years.

“I was surprised to win because I had won last year’s firefighter of the year. Winning it two years in a row is quite an honor,” Craig said.

“Firefighter of the year is a selection process. We have one firefighter from each station, based upon a lot of factors such as drill attendance, training, call participation and attitude,” Deputy Chief Mike Cotton said.

The award is based on a vote by the captains from each station, but the captains are not allowed to vote for their own people, so the person with the most votes wins.

“It is motivational, recognition, a thank you — whether they get firefighter of the year or not — for a job well-done,” Cotton said.

Craig, who is the manager of the Lakeside Bible Camp, is often called from work to handle emergency calls.

“I have the ability to leave my job when I am not in the middle of something, and show up at a call.

I participate in quite a few calls during the day,” he explained.

The awards banquet also honored 17 other district personnel, including EMT of the Year, Most Inspirational EMS Provider of the Year and the Carl Simmons Officer’s Choice Award.

“The entire awards banquet is to recognize all of our members for their participation, their service to the community during the past year,” Cotton said.

While EMTs are rated similarly to firefighters as to responding to calls, another aspect is simply checking out a medical emergency response vehicle at every opportunity. And Melissa Simmons and Scott Carscadden tied on that account for 2007, said Captain Connie Shield of the district’s medical division.

“EMT of the year is based on who has the highest drill attendance and call volume for the year,” Shield said. Simmons responded to 508 calls and checked the MERV out for

3,536 hours. Carscadden, who joined the district in March 2007, moved quickly up the ranks and responded to 227 calls and checked the MERV out for

1,903 hours.”

Carscadden didn’t expect that he would be recognized alongside Simmons who has a reputation on the South End for a high number of call responses.

“To be ranked with the likes of Simmons, who we call the ‘Empress of EMS’ on the South End, I was very happy,” Carscadden said.

Simmons, who has earned the title four times before, said she was glad to share the stage with Carscadden.

“I was thrilled, actually. He is really deserving of this award.

I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she said.

Simmons was modest, despite the “empress” title.

“I am flattered, but I don’t think I would go that far,” she said. “I enjoy going on calls because

I love helping the community. The relief you see in their eyes knowing you are there to help them; it is priceless.”

Carscadden also won the award for Most Inspirational EMS Provider.

“All the EMTs get to vote on who among their peers is most inspirational,” Shields said.

“I think it was Carscadden’s level of commitment to volunteerism and to serving his community.”

Commissioner Kenon Simmons also won an award, the Carl Simmons Officers Choice Award.

It was a surprise announcement: Simmons had helped create the honor for district officers four years ago when his father, Carl Simmons, retired.

“I thought it would be nice to have an award where only the officers were able to get it and it’s chosen by officers,” Kenon Simmons said.

“It is a tremendous honor for me to have that and to be able to get it from my dad, who has had some health issues. It made it far more special,” Simmons said after receiving the award.

His daughter, Carly Simmons, a recruit firefighter, also shared the stage making three generations present for the award.

Other district workers were also honored.

Irene Bullock received the Star of Life Award. Eric Unke received the Marine Rescue Responder of the Year Award.

Recruit of the Year went to John Graham.

Dylan Jefferies was awarded Fire Prevention and Public Education and Jon Gabelein received the Paramedic Award. Chris Olson got the High School Firefighter of the Year.

Spencer Webster can be reached at 221-5300 or swebster@south

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