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VFR’s time, effort honored

A large crowd gathered at the firehouse in Victoria on Saturday for Victoria Fire and Rescue’s (VFR) annual banquet, honoring the efforts and sacrifices of those who serve the community as firefighters and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel.

After those in attendance enjoyed a dinner, VFR Chief Rodney Newton gave some remarks, providing a look ahead and also addressing some key events for the department in 2017, noting that a lot happened.

“I’m not going to bore you with a lot of numbers, but I’m going to give you a few,” he said. “As you know, in April-May time frame of 2017, the face of our operation changed in the EMS world as we became a two-station department for EMS. To give you an idea, if you remember from last year’s banquet I told you I think we ran about 1,100 calls for 2016. (In) 2017, we ran 1,459 calls.”

He said out of that total, 1,055 were out of Station 2 in Victoria, and 404 were out of Station 7 in Kenbridge starting in the May-June time frame.

“So if we add the other four or five months from Station 7 to this year, we will probably be looking at 1,600, 1,700 calls for the upcoming year,” he said.

Breaking down the details of those 1,459 calls in 2017, Newton said that 844 were for basic life support, 356 were for advanced life support, 78 were for public service, 63 were for motor vehicle crashes, 54 were for fires, 38 were canceled and 26 were to have the department on standby.

Newton highlighted the time that these calls represent, noting there were 1,200 EMS calls.

“Multiply that by two hours by a minimum of two people per call, and it will show you the time that we put into providing this service for the community,” he said. “It’s a lot of man hours that are put into this.”

He was putting a spotlight on the effort put forth by the entire department, but also led by example as the honors handed out indicated.

Newton was recognized for running the most calls in 2017 with an even 200. Coming in second was Chris Parrish with 151, Stacey Newton came in third with 122, Whitney Upton came in fourth with 116 and Brandi McGhinnis came in fifth with 109.

The E.W. Gee Jr. Memorial Award also went to Newton for running the most calls in 2017, and he was one of three department members to be recognized for reaching the 2,500-calls run milestone during his time with VFR. He has run a total of 2,567 calls.

Chris Garrett has run 2,546 calls, and Wayne Hoover has run 2,509 calls.

Melvin Trent and Susie Long were honored for each having reached 1,500 calls run with VFR. Long has run 1,533, and Trent has run 1,531.

The 2018 officers of Victoria Fire and Rescue were sworn in during the banquet. They included Chief Rodney Newton, Assistant Chief Chris Garrett, Fire Captain Jeramiah Fix, Fire Lieutenant Austin Hoover, Fire Lieutenant Daniel Medlin, Rescue Captain Melvin Trent, Rescue Lieutenant Susie Long, Rescue Lieutenant Tina Hudson, Engineer Brandi McGhinnis, Secretary Katelyn Townsend, Assistant Secretary Stacey Newton and Treasurer Denise Crenshaw.

The department’s banquet also included a ceremony honoring deceased members.