VFR expands honor categories

Published 9:53 am Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Victoria Fire and Rescue (VFR) held its annual banquet and installation of officers Saturday at Lunenburg Middle School, with awards new and established affording department and community members due recognition before a large crowd.

“It’s probably the largest attendance we have had and have had many comments (that) it was probably one of the best banquets that we have had in quite a few years,” VFR Chief Rodney Newton said.

The event was attended by more than 140 people, including department members, special guests and Lunenburg County, Town of Victoria and Town of Kenbridge local government representatives. Representatives from the Virginia House of Delegates, Virginia Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives were in attendance also.

The annual banquet gave the department an opportunity to highlight the activities of 2018.

VFR ran more than 1,600 calls between the two stations during 2018. Many of these calls proved to be challenging for members both physically and mentally.

As in the past the department presented the E. W. Gee Jr. Memorial Award to the member that responded to the most incidents during the previous year. This time, that award was presented to Ben Eaheart III.

Victoria Fire and Rescue began many years ago recognizing members for reaching various milestones in terms of the number of incidents they have responded to during their time with the department as a volunteer. The milestones are 1,000, 1,500, 2,000 and 2,500 responses.

Greg Tanner was presented a plaque for surpassing 1,000 incident responses in 2018.

The members with the top-five most incident responses for 2018 were also presented with plaques for their accomplishments. Those members were Eaheart, with 184 incident responses; Whitney Upton and Rodney Newton, who tied with 183 incident responses apiece; Chris Garrett, with 123; Brooke Williams, with 112; and Stacey Newton, with 105.

In 2009 the department began recognizing members that responded to an incident that required cardiopulmonary resuscitation and/ or advanced life support procedures for patients suffering from cardiac arrest and had an outcome of the patient surviving and living a productive life.

This award was given in 2009 and had not been given since. However, 2018 offered an opportunity to present it again, but not for one patient but for four different patients that survived. The department was honored to have two of these survivors and their families in attendance at the banquet Saturday.

On Feb. 26, 2018, an emergency medical services (EMS) crew consisting of Sara Medlin, Devin Chinault, Rebecca Long, Vicki Smith, Ben Lang and Bernice Thompson responded to an EMS incident that met the criteria for the 2009 award. They were awarded the Victoria Fire and Rescue Life Save award and a CPR Life Save ribbon.

On May 18, 2018, an EMS crew consisting of Brooke Williams, Whitney Upton, Bobbie Smith and Devin Chinault responded to an incident that met this criteria and all were recipients of the award and ribbon.

An EMS crew consisting of Stacey Newton, Michael Herndon, and Rodney Newton responded to an incident that met this criteria Sept. 22, 2018, and received the award and ribbon. The survivor of this incident and his family attended the banquet, and the survivor spoke briefly to the attendees about his experience.

Lastly, on Oct. 24, 2018, an EMS crew consisting of Devin Chinault, Sara Medlin and Rodney Newton responded to another incident meeting the criteria of this award. Upon arrival, the EMS crew found bystander CPR in progress by the patient’s family. Because of the actions of Donnie Edmonds, Joyce Edmonds and Lisa Smith and the work of the EMS crew, the patient survived.

The family members were each awarded a Victoria Fire and Rescue Citizen’s Life Save award. The EMS crew was awarded the Victoria Fire and Rescue Life Save award and a CPR Life Save ribbon. This survivor and family were in attendance as well and shared of the experience with the audience.

The banquet also provided the venue for a first-time award for VFR.

On Feb. 23, 2018, VFR was dispatched to a structure fire with a possible victim trapped inside. Interior firefighting crews worked through adverse and dangerous fire, smoke and heat conditions to search, find and remove the victim from the structure. The victim did not survive the injuries of the fire, but the interior crews did all they could to provide the victim a chance.

Chad Berkley was awarded the first Award of Valor for his actions during this fire. Bryan King also received the Award of Valor for his efforts. Both were well deserving of these awards and the department is appreciative of their actions.

The banquet concluded with the installation of the 2019 Victoria Fire and Rescue officers. They are as follows: Rodney Newton, chief; Chris Garrett, assistant chief; Austin Hoover, fire captain; Melvin Trent, rescue captain; Shawn Phillips, fire lieutenant; Chris Craft, fire lieutenant; Brooke Williams, rescue lieutenant; Whitney Upton, rescue lieutenant; Thomas Thompson, engineer; Woody Conner, assistant engineer; Katelyn Townsend, secretary; Stacey Newton, assistant secretary; Denise Crenshaw, treasurer; and Bernice Thompson, assistant treasurer.