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Glen Miller: Yates Firefighter of the Year

BENTON—On March 26 Yates County emergency workers filled the Benton firehouse to celebrate a year of training and service. Emergency Management Center director Glen Miller was the focus of Yates County Administrator Sarah Purdy’s comments at the beginning of the evening.
After stating her topic was shoes, she said, “As the year progresses there is one pair of shoes; Glen Miller’s. I don’t think I need to tell you they will be very difficult to fill. There is a task force working on filling them.”
To Miller she said, “The ‘shoes task force’ is making sure someone fills your shoes in the manner you would like to have them filled. You are all being represented. We have an incredibly awesome pair of shoes we need to fill.”
Miller will retire later this year after 30 years of service. At the conclusion of the program MIller was named Firefighter of the Year. The award was presented by Michael Alexander who said, “The Fireman of the Year was born into a family in the fire service. He has brought all of us into one cohesive group.” Miller responded, “This has been one hell of a ride. I enjoyed every minute. This is an award for every one of you. It means a lot to me.”
Returning to the program, Miller said in 2009 between Fire service and Emergency Medical Service there were 327 students who earned 741 certificates. The total hours spent in training were 11,558. Miller said there were more students and more hours than in 2008 and in that year there were more than in 2007. He said, “Every year it seems to grow.”
The heart of the evening was a DVD of training of local smoke divers. Smoke divers are the firefighters who are trained to fight fires in burning structures. National Incident Management System (NIMS) coordinator Melanie Bush said, “They’re Heinz 57; all from different departments.” The DVD showed the steps from arrival at the fire house to donning the heavy gear, then on to views of the smoke divers at work.
Presentation of certificates for training are a key portion of each year’s celebration and Miller and Emergency Medical Services’ Chris Warriner presented each department with their certificates in turn. The training hours for 2009 were Bellona, 842; Benton, 1,425; Branchport/Keuka Park, 1,406; Dresden, 187; Dundee, 1,587; Dundee Ambulance, 85; Himrod, 1.417; Middlesex 735; Middlesex Ambulance, 8; Penn Yan Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps, 490; Penn Yan, 1,250; Potter, 695; Rushville, 898 and West Lake Road, 244.
The highlight of the evening was presentation of awards. The first was the Emergency Medical Services Leadership Award to Tom and Bonnie Mahaney. Miller read a letter from Dr. Bradford Berk before the presentation. Berk, University of Rochester Medical Center CEO, had a bicycle accident in Middlesex in May 2009. The letter read, in part, “Thank you to all who responded. It was quick response and I got to emergency room quickly. Those seconds have changed my life and the life of my family.”
Tom Mahaney said, “That day was probably the scariest in my life. The first words I heard were, ‘I’m a physician. I’m paralyzed and I broke C-5.” About two minutes later Mercy Flight arrived and our other trucks came up. We had all the people of Middlesex Hose there.” One reason they were near by was that it was about 15 minutes before the department’s roast beef dinner was to begin. Berk has returned to his post at the Medical Center.
EMS Provider of the Year Award was presented to Jared Palmer of Branchport/Keuka Park fire department. Top Training hours; 137 were completed by Glen Sensenig of the Dundee Fire Department. Richard Diamond Jr. took the top number of EMS training hours—161.
Miller said local departments received Federal Fire Act grants again in 2009 and since 2001 have received grants totaling $1,575,619. The local share is $78,781.
Miller said he had a goal in 2001 of getting thermal imaging cameras for each department, adding, “Just got one more to get.” Miller outlined the year’s activities, stating the most important thing is scheduling and performing training courses. Shifting to another area, Miller said he teaches all over the country and many departments talk about the difficulty in working with other departments. Here they train together and work together, stating he learned this from his predecessor, Tom Disbrow. He said, “The most important thing is to prepare. Training helps us.” Addressing the next comment to the volunteers, he said, “Eleven thousand hours. You not only listen, you embrace it.”
Courage to be Safe program was offered last year and 249 emergency workers took the course. Miller said Yates County was the first county in the nation to have every fire department in their county host the course. Three quarters of the active firefighters locally took the course.
The Roger Ribble Award was presented to Doug Miller of the Dundee Fire Department by Ribble’s son-in-law Ray Stewart. Stewart said Ribble loved and lived fire service. He taught classes and the award in his memory is given in order to recognize people who exhibit the same traits as he did. Stewart said Ribble lived and loved fire service.
Miller presented the H. Robert Hathaway Officer of the Year award to Robert Bell of the Benton Fire Department. Miller noted Bell stepped forward when he needed to. Nominations for this award were received from deputy fire coordinators.

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