On January 25, 2020 the Town of Chilhowie Fire & EMS Department hosted its annual Awards Ceremony to honor those who reached educational goals and went above and beyond the call of duty in 2019.
Firefighter/EMT Nicklous Deskins, Firefighter/EMT Dennis Wyatt, Firefighter/EMT Zack Woods, and Firefighter Brandon Arnett (not pictured) were recognized as new members in 2019.
Educational Achievement Ribbons were presented to members who had completed specified training requirements in a given field. Most require a significant investment in classroom time as well as practical evolutions, and many require advanced classes lasting several months. Seven members were presented with Educational Achievement Ribbons (EAR): Firefighter Hunter Ruffin – Fire Instructor EAR, Firefighter Logan Ashlin – EMS Service EAR, Firefighter Alex Taschereau – EMS Service EAR, Firefighter Scott Schumaker – Fire Serivce EAR, Firefighter Nick Deskins – EMS Service EAR, Firefighter Dennis Wyatt – Fire Service and EMS Service EAR, and Firefighter Zack Woods – Fire Service and EMS Service EAR.
The Firefighter Attendance Ribbon is awarded annually to the member who responds to the most volunteer calls during the year. This award represents a significant commitment of time to the department and the community. It was awarded to Lieutenant Jeannie Haynes with 351 calls. This is her 9th straight award and she has responded to 3,917 calls since 2007!
The J.E. Morphew Award, named after Captain Earl Morphew, is given to a member when they complete 200 or more creditable training hours each year. Earl was known throughout Virginia as a firefighter who loved to train. He pushed others to train and be better and it is most fitting that this award is given in his honor. Six members were presented with the J.E. Morphew award: Chief David Haynes with 224.42 hours, Assistant Chief Brandon Moore with 241.92 hours, Lieutenant Jenna Ruffin with 230.42 hours, Firefighter Hunter Ruffin with 202.92 hours, Firefighter Scott Schumaker with 307.92 hours, and Firefighter Logan Ashlin with 423.67 hours. Firefighter Logan Ashlin had the most creditable training hours in 2019.
We would be remiss if we didn’t tell you about Jerry’s service with the Department. Jerry joined us on January 15, 2002 as a firefighter/EMT. He relentlessly pursued his education and became a critical care paramedic which is no small task. From his first day with the Department, Jerry always displayed outstanding leadership qualities – no doubt learned during his career in the U.S. Navy where he attained the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer. The Department wisely put Jerry’s leadership and management skills to work when they promoted him to his first officer position – Lieutenant – in 2004. In 2006, he was promoted again, this time to Captain. In 2011, the Department saw the need to create the position of EMS Captain to focus on managing our emergency medical services, and of course, there was no question that the only logical choice for that position was Jerry. In 2016, the importance of managing our growing EMS system was demonstrated once again when the rank of Deputy Chief of EMS was created – this was the first chief officer level position dedicated to managing the EMS services. Once again, Jerry was called upon to fill the position. Now all of those titles are very impressive, but I’m sure if you would ask Jerry what his most important accomplishment during his fire and EMS career was, I believe he would say it was his teaching. Jerry was one of the region’s most dedicated EMT instructors. Today you would be hard pressed to walk into an EMS agency anywhere in Southwest Virginia and not find at least one EMT that Jerry trained. Many of Jerry’s EMT students have gone on to become instructors themselves and are now teaching the next generation of providers. That’s a resume that anyone would be proud to have. So Jerry, thank you for your hard work and dedication over the last 18 years, thank you for your leadership, but most of all thank you for your friendship.