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County recognizes emergency responders

    BENTON—Three fire departments received the Yates County Firefighters of the Year Award for 2011 instead of one individual. The fire departments in Penn Yan, Benton, and Bellona were honored as Firefighters of the Year during the 2011 Annual Yates County Emergency Responders Training Banquet at the Benton firehouse on Friday, March 30.
    Penn Yan Fire Chief Rick Simpson, Benton Chief Bob Bell, and Bellona Chief Dwight James accepted the awards on behalf of the respective fire departments. The top firefighters awards were presented by Tracey Miller, president of the Yates County Fire Chief’s Association; Frank Ellis, president of the Yates County EMS Advisory Board, and Nancy Oppel, vice president of the EMS Advisory Board. Miller explained the award was given to those three departments for their work at the scene of the multi-vehicle fatal collision that occurred on Pre-Emption Road in Benton on July 19, 2011. The crash took the lives of six individuals. Miller praised the fire departments for quickly arriving at the scene and saving the lives of eight others who were involved in the collision. He said the accident is one that will be “tough to put to the past.” However, Miller also pointed out the importance of having responders who can perform on the job even in the toughest circumstances.
    Several other awards were also presented during the event. EMS Provider of the Year went to Penn Yan Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps. and Yates County Advanced Life Support – Medic 55. For Penn Yan Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps., President Wayne Marsh accepted the award. Chief Paramedic Bob Green and John VanAuker, a former chief paramedic, received the honor on behalf of Yates County Advanced Life Support – Medic 55.
    Leon Ray Hoover of the Himrod Fire Department was awarded for logging the most fire training hours: 159. Brian Oppelt had the top training hours in Emergency Medical Service (EMS): 624-plus. Oppelt is a member of the Middlesex Fire Department. The most training completed for fire and EMS combined came from Dundee Fire Department member Kathleen Sworts at 194 hours.
    The Roger Ribble Senior Award was given to Mike Alexander. Jere Horning was named H. Robert Hathaway Officer of the Year. The Gary Garverick Leadership Award for leadership, compassion, passion, and dedication went to Douglas Paddock.
    Overall, 631 individuals took part in Yates County and State Fire and EMS Field Training programs in 2011. Those participants finished a total of 9,727 hours of training. Himrod Fire Chief Jared Webster lauded the efforts of those involved in fire and training programs over the past year. “It amazes me how many hours you put in,” stated Webster. “I have to commend you for that.” Director of Emergency Management Brian Winslow also gave words of praise for the work put in by volunteers. “The dedication to your organizations does not go unnoticed,” Winslow told the fire and ambulance squad members.

    For more photos from the banquet, click here.



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