Firefighter, medic of the year announced

The East Fork Fire & Paramedic Districts hosted their 11th annual Appreciation and Awards Banquet at the St. Gall Parish Hall on May 9 to recognize firefighters and medics of the districts, both career and volunteer, for their efforts in preventing fires and protecting the lives of the citizens of Douglas County. In addition to the more serious awards presented for firefighter of the year and medic of the year, several members were roasted and presented with gag gifts that highlighted their participation during the past year.

The nominations for firefighter of the year and medic of the year were made by fellow firefighters and medics, both career and volunteer, and were based upon the nominees' contributions to the districts, expertise in the job, and their integrity, honor, professionalism, and enthusiasm.

The 2008 Firefighter of the Year award was presented to Volunteer Fire Chief Dave Thomas with the Topaz Lake Volunteer Fire Department.

Thomas has been a dedicated and active member of the Topaz Volunteer Fire Department since 1997 and has acted in many capacities since joining, including volunteer firefighter, EMT, instructor, and in 2005, volunteer fire chief. In addition to his responses to fire and medical incidents, Thomas also attends District related meetings and works closely with both career and volunteer staff to perform joint training exercises. In 2005, Thomas joined the districts' strategic planning team and was instrumental in the development of a working plan that the districts use today. Thomas also participates as a member of the districts' safety committee, which works to ensure the development and maintenance of a safe working environment for district personnel.

"Dave Thomas was very deserving of this award," said Chief Tod Carlini. "For many years, Dave has distinguished himself as a leader and one of the most dedicated volunteers I have ever had the pleasure of working with. He commits an incredible amount of time to the volunteer system and to the fire and paramedic districts. He sets a positive example for others to follow with his positive nature and cooperative attitude."

The 2008 Medic of the Year Award was presented to paramedic/firefighter Jeff James for his focus on patient care. James started his fire service career by joining the Ranchos volunteer fire department. In 2003, he was hired by the East Fork Fire & Paramedic Districts as an EMT II, in 2005 he promoted to the position of paramedic, and in 2008, he began working as an acting captain. James is one of the founding members of the emergency medical services committee and played a major role in updating the districts' paramedic protocols, which was a tremendous undertaking.

He also participates as a member of the districts' safety committee and is a current Gardnerville Ranchos district trustee. James credits Jennifer, his wife of nine years, for her support during his endeavor to change careers from the casino industry to the fire service. He also has two daughters, Jessica, 6, and Julianne, 4.

"Jeff is truly representative of a quality employee and certainly an outstanding paramedic and firefighter," Carlini said. "Jeff has been instrumental in the establishment of many positive service enhancements in the field of paramedicine. His recognition as medic of the year has been earned and well deserved."

Also recognized were:

Dick Atwood - 20 Year Service

Dave Bourne - 20 Year Service

Ellen Nelson - 20 Year Service

Roger Falcke - 20 Year Service

Other awards presented:

Topaz VFD - Safest Station

Sheridan VFD - Cleanest Station


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