Friday, March 11, 2022

Ashland VFW Honors First Responders at Annual Banquet

On Saturday, March 5th, 2022, the Ashland VFW held their 3rd Annual First Responders Banquet, honoring the First Responders, which include Fire, Police, and EMS.

The event brought together the members of all the first responder agencies within the Ashland VFW coverage area which includes Ashland, Fountain Springs, Gordon, and Lavelle as well as their auxiliaries and fire police .  The elected officials from all the communities were invited as well.

First responders from police, fire, fire police, and EMS were treated to a night of good food, drinks, and laughs.

Ashland Fire Chief Philip Groody acted as Master of Ceremonies and opened the program by introducing Wilmer Quick, from the VFW, for the invocation.

"We as Veterans, we get thanks for what we've done but you as first responders get none.  But I want to let you know that we are thinking of you all the time.  I want to thank each and everyone one of you tonight from each member of the VFW." Quick said prior to a prayer.

After the prayer, a moment of silence was held for all of the first responders they've lost since the last banquet.

"We all the know the past 2 years have been very hard and we know we've lost some very dear people", Chief Groody said.

Chief Groody spoke on the lack of volunteers within our communities but thanks to mutual aid, our communities are "solid" with their coverage.

Groody also spoke on the importance of fire prevention and the success of recent smoke alarm and carbon monoxide campaigns with the American Red Cross and Salvation Army.

Groody also highlighted the work of Ashland's EMS.

"Our ambulance service started out with one ambulance to Ashland the surrounding area.  Today, it has now grown to an organization consisting of 2 state of the art ambulances, a heavy rescue with the best equipment possible, and two new buildings to house of this and a dedicated staff that make it work" Groody said.

"Our EMS last year responded to over 1,300 calls, not just in Ashland but our surrounding communities" Groody added.

After speaking, Chief Groody introduced the Ashland VFW Post Commander, Tim Hahn, to hand out the firefighter of the year award.

Prior to handing out the award, Hahn introduced Lance Nelson, VFW District 12 Commander, to say a few words.

"We live in an era where the word hero is not properly used.  Sports heroes that use banned substances are called heroes.  Politicians who feather their own pockets and vote party rather than country are called heroes.  I'm sure our award recipient would not call himself a hero.  Whether you get a cat out of tree, or pump somebody's basement, or pulling somebody out of a burning building.  I'm sure you do not consider yourself a hero.  Any first responder here would do the same thing, they'd be trained, and do it to their best of abilities, and do a good job of it.    Many of the heroes wear khaki and are represented by veterans and the people who have served.  Most of the rest wear the navy blue ambulance, firefighters, and police.  Those are the true heroes." Nelson said.

Prior to the event, each of the first responder adjacencies attending nominated one of their members and provided some background information on why that person should receive the award.

Hahn called up the Gordon Fire Department who had chosen Assistant Chief Brian McCabe to receive the award.

McCabe was unable to attend the event but his fellow members accepted the award on his behalf.

"Brian, along with being an excellent, well-trained firefighter and has his firefighter 1 has been instrumental to securing our fire company numerous grants since he move to Gordon and joined our company.   These grants have been more than $300,000 over the past few years, which has included a federal grant that has allowed us to purchase a brand new pumper tanker.  He has also implemented training classes for our members and junior members.  He is a firefighter that anyone in our company, or here in Ashland, or Fountain Springs, wouldn't hesitate following him into a burning building.   He is involved in all of our fundraising events and is often the first to arrive and last to leave.  Brian is a dedicated firefighter and an asset to our company and our community."  George Brocious of the Gordon Fire Department said.