South Whidbey Fire/EMS honored volunteer firefighters, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and their families at its annual awards dinner.
Jim Towers was awarded the Carl Simmons Officers’ Choice Award. Fire Commissioner Kenon Simmons, whose father was the inspiration and namesake of the award, presented Towers with the honor. Towers joined the department in 1986 and serves as captain at the Saratoga and Langley stations.
“I am extremely honored to receive this award. It has particular meaning for me as I learned so much from Carl,” Towers said.
Robert Frey was presented with both the Outstanding Technical Rescue Team Member of the Year and Marine Rescue Responder of the Year awards. Frey volunteered with the department since 2008.
Gary Guernsey was awarded Firefighter of the Year and was also given a special thank you and presentation of his badge, as he has announced he will retire this year. He began volunteering in 2002.
EMT of the Year went to Adam Conley. Paul Shimada received the Paramedic’s Choice Award. And Jennifer Morley was named the Most Inspirational EMT.
The Star of Life Award was presented to Pat McMahon. The award for Fire Prevention/Public Education went to Alex McMahon. Heidi Price received the award for Support Services.
Individual station firefighters of the year were: Ken Starkweather, Freeland Station; Gary Guernsey, Clinton Station; Anne Collins, Maxwelton Station; Michael Oyola and Adam Conley, Langley Station; Teresa Welch, Saratoga Station; and Gary Gabelein, Bayview Station.
Certificates for distinguished years of service were also awarded to Deputy Chief Mike Cotton for 20 years; Jeff Simmons for 15 years; Holly Fairbrook, Chuck Baker and senior administrative assistant Vicki Lange each for 10 years; and Michael Oyola, Rick Neal, Pat McMahon, Tom Gideon, Robert Fry, Kathy Eyth and Scott Carscadden, each for five years.
The event March 9 at Useless Bay Golf and Country Club was attended by Washington Fire Marshal Chuck Duffy.
“There are more than 16,000 volunteer firefighters in our state, passionately contributing thousands of hours attending training drills, helping with public outreach and education, and responding to emergency calls to save lives,” Duffy said. “Your dedication is worthy of celebration. Thanks to you and your families for the personal sacrifice you all make to help your community.”