At the Peninsula Township Board meeting this week, Fire Chief Fred Gilstorff presented several firefighter awards to Peninsula Fire Department personnel for their hard work and dedication to both the fire department and the Old Mission Peninsula community.
“2019 was an extremely challenging year for the fire department,” Gilstorff noted. “We worked extremely hard, and every one of these folks you see in the back of the room gave time and time again to help the department move forward.”
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He added, “They work well together as a team, and they’re constantly improving as we bring new members in and people take them under their wings. We all have one goal in mind, and that’s to provide the highest level of service to the residents of Peninsula Township. These are some of the most dedicated and professional people that I’ve been around, and I’ve been doing this for over 30 years. I’m very proud of each and every one of them.”
Kyle Sarber Receives Firefighter of the Year Award
The recipient of the 2019 “Firefighter of the Year” award is Kyle Sarber, EMT and Firefighter with the Peninsula Fire Department who also recently completely paramedic training.
Gilstorff said Sarber is his “go-to guy” and helped greatly with the department going to ALS (Advanced Life Support). He also installed numerous AEDs (Automated External Defibrillator) throughout the township, including one in the Peninsula Township Hall.
“He goes above and beyond every day he comes into work,” said Gilstorff. “He’s top-notch, and his passion and desire for this department is great. I’d take 25 of him. He’s that good.”
Other Peninsula Fire Department award recipients include:
Ethan Passalacqua, Paramedic/Firefighter. “I know that any time I need something done, he’s going to step up and do it properly,” said Gilstorff. He added that the project of servicing and gathering information for the fire hydrants on the township’s south end was given to Ethan. “The ISO inspector had never seen anything so detailed,” said Gilstorff.
Mike VanderMey, MFR/Firefighter. “This individual can’t stop working on the fire trucks’ lights, sirens and radios,” said Gilstorff. “He saved us a ton of money by adding expertise. We bought four vehicles this year, and he installed the radios on three of them.”
Cory Reamer, EMT/Firefighter. Noting that Reamer is “the department handyman,” Gilstorff said, “Any time you call him and need something done or fixed at the station, he’s there in a heartbeat.” He added that Reamer did the majority of the renovations at Station 2, and he’s also the longest-running member of the fire department.
Brent Strom, Lieutenant, EMT/Firefighter. The department’s training officer, Strom is in charge of organizing and scheduling training for all members of the Peninsula Fire Department, a monumental task considering many fire personnel work other jobs. “This guy puts his heart and soul into it, and he continues to impress me every day,” said Gilstorff.”
Gilstorff noted that on August 4, 2019, the fire crew working that day responded to two cardiac incidents. Both patients were in dire stress, he said, and both of them, once they got to the hospital, arrested, which means their heart fully stopped. Thankfully, hospital staff were able to bring them back.
“The key is our folks started the appropriate care and got them the medicines they needed in order to have a positive outcome,” said Gilstorff. “If it hadn’t been for the ALS, who knows what the outcome would have been in these case.” For their dedication and swift responses, life-saving awards were presented to:
Joseph Sicoli, Paramedic/Firefighter.
Alex Werly, EMT/Firefighter.
Gilstorff said that on July 16, 2019, an industrial accident occurred on Bluff Road. Julie Moore, a health care professional, stopped at the accident and began rendering care before fire department personnel arrived. “Your selfless actions to stop and assist the victim and then assist the fire department members with continued care are deeply appreciated,” noted Gilstorff.
Julie Moore, Good Samaritan Life-Saving Award recipient.
Also present at the meeting was Chris Martin, the recipient of the life-saving actions taken by Moore and fire department personnel on July 16, 2019. Overcome with emotion, Martin thanked Moore and the fire department for saving his life.
“What you guys have done for me… I’m not real spiritual, but I’m going to say one thing. I laid there for what seemed like quite a while. I saw the bright light. I did think I was crossing over. I didn’t think I was going to make it … I just want to say thank you to all.”
Also involved with assisting Chris on that day, these fire department individuals received life-saving awards from the fire department:
Paul Lipke, Paramedic/Firefighter.
Grant Blackmer, EMT/Firefighter.
Dale Hall, EMT/Firefighter.
Jason Schuitema, Paramedic/Firefighter.
Gilstorff also thanked everyone involved with organizing the January 4th memorial service for retired fire chief Rich VanderMey and expressed his gratitude for Rich’s devotion to the Peninsula Fire Department and Old Mission Peninsula community.
“I didn’t have the opportunity to know Rich for a long time, but I did have the opportunity to sit down with him on three or four different occasions to talk about the fire department, because the fire department has his name stamped all over it. I needed to know the history and what the direction was in order to continue what he had already started, as far as moving this fire department along. Everything I read in the files had his name on it.”
Gilstorff added, “The man was dedicated to this fire department and to this community. He went above and beyond with everything he did. He was a consummate firefighter’s firefighter. Anything anyone ever needed, he stepped up and took care of it.”
Gilstorff noted that starting next year, the “Firefighter of the Year” award will be called the “Fire Chief Rich VanderMey Memorial Firefighter of the Year” award. “I think it’s appropriate and well deserved, and we need to not forget what he did for this department,” he said.