South Whidbey Fire/EMS honored volunteer firefighters and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and their families at its annual awards dinner March 10 at Useless Bay Golf & Country Club.
“We are here tonight to celebrate our dedicated volunteers, and to thank your families for the personal sacrifice they make to allow you to help our community,” said Assistant Chief Paul Busch.
“This past year, our volunteers have contributed 25,000 hours attending training drills, helping with public outreach and education and responding to emergency calls to save lives. We are truly grateful for your service and sacrifice.”
Ken Starkweather was presented the department’s highest honor, the Carl Simmons Officers’ Choice Award. Starkweather joined the department in 2000 and is both a volunteer firefighter and EMT at the Freeland fire station.
Commissioner Kenon Simmons made an emotional presentation of the award, which is named after his father, who passed away less than a year ago.
“It gives me great honor to present this award to such an impressive individual as Ken Starkweather.”
Two major awards went to Paul Shimada, Firefighter of the Year and the Star of Life. Shimada serves as both a firefighter and EMT with the fire station in Clinton.
Robert Husom was awarded the Paramedic’s Choice Award. EMT of the Year was awarded to Steve Lewis. Both Pat McMahon and Adam Conley were chosen as the Most Inspirational EMTs. The award for Fire Prevention/Public Education went to Alex McMahon. Outstanding Technical Rescue Team Member of the Year went to Robert Frey. Debbie Starkweather was presented the award for Support Services. Forrest Hughes was awarded Marine Rescue Responder of the Year.
Individual Station Firefighters of the Year were: Richard Neal, Freeland Station; Paul Shimada, Clinton Station; David Monell, Maxwelton Station; Adam Conley, Langley Station; Teresa Welch, Saratoga Station; and Alex McMahon, Bayview Station.
Certificates for Years of Service were also awarded to Division Chief EMS Connie Shields for 25 years; Commissioner Mike Helland for 20 years; Kevin Simmons for 15 years; Gary Guernsey, Rob Harrison, Leah Kalahiki, Brian Vick and Terry Welch, each for 10 years; and Scott Carscadden, Joe Freia and Mari St. Amand, each for five years.
South Whidbey Fire/EMS, formerly known as Island County Fire District 3, has provided fire suppression, emergency medical service, marine and rope rescue to residents and visitors since 1950.
The service population varies from 15,000 to 25,000 during the summer, which includes tourism and ferry traffic.
The South Whidbey community is served by five full-time and 84 volunteer fire fighters and emergency medical technicians, or “EMTs.”