Thursday, July 28, 2022
First Responders Honored at Department Convention
by Cynthia A. Nekson
During its 104th Annual Convention held in Binghamton, The American Legion Department of New York honored outstanding first responders. They included EMT of the Year, Firefighter of the Year, Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, and 911 Dispatcher of the Year.
Law and Order Chair David R. Riley Sr. (whose election as Department Commander concluded the convention) announced the Law and Order honorees and 2021-2022 Department Commander Frank LaMarsh presented the plaques.
The Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) of the Year is Robert Sparks of the Livingston County Emergency Medical Services (EMS). “Rob is considered one of the best Emergency Medical Technicians in his field,” Riley said. “He was recently named the New York State EMS Council’s Advance Life Support Provider of the Year. This is an extremely prestigious award and exemplifies his excellence among his peers across New York State.” He also received the 2020 Advanced Life Support Provider of the Year Award from the Monroe-Livingston Regional EMS Council.
Sparks has worked as an advanced Life Support Technician with Livingston County EMS since 2011 and is currently a shift supervisor with that agency. He is also a volunteer with the Livonia Volunteer Ambulance Service.
The 911 Dispatcher of The Year is Susie Barnaby from the Oneida County 911 Call Center, Oneida County, 5th District. Barnaby has been a dispatcher with Oneida County since May of 2000. She is certified in CPR, Emergency Medical Dispatch and Emergency Police Dispatch. Some of her duties include receiving emergency calls, prioritizing calls based on details of the emergency, providing detailed instructions on life saving medical intervention, and dispatching the proper emergency personnel in a timely and efficient manner. In her career, she has worked every shift there is and frequently works other shifts so her co-workers do not get mandated to work.
“Susie has been the recipient of the Humanitarian of the Year Award twice, in 2011 and 2021,” Riley noted. “This award is in recognition of a deputy who has shown compassion and concern for the well-being of others through their career with the Oneida County Sheriff’s Department as determined by her peers.”
There were two recent noteworthy calls to 911 that she received. One call was for a fire in a cell at a local state prison for which she needed to dispatch six ambulances from various areas, pulling strings to get them. The second 911 call was for a 4-year-old who wasn’t breathing. She was able to assist via the phone until the EMS arrived. “While the last word on his condition was that he is on a ventilator, he is alive and recovering,” Riley said.
Barnaby has been an Auxiliary member of American Legion Unit 1794 for 30 years and is the current president.
The Firefighter of the Year is Norris Whitmore from the Lee Center Fire Department, Oneida County, 5th District. He has been a member of the Lee Center Fire Department for over 30 years and currently holds the position of lieutenant. Some of his training included Firefighter Survival, Accident Victim Extraction, Live Fire Training, Officer Training, Firefighter I, Firefighter II, Emergency Vehicle Training, and recognizing clandestine drug labs.
Whitmore enlisted in the Marines in 1983, serving in the Middle East during Desert Storm and went on to serve in the Marine Reserves stationed out of Syracuse.
Whitmore first joined the Lee Center Fire Department in 1979, transferring to the Tagberg Fire Department and then to the West Leyden fire Department in 2008. In 2015 he returned to the Lee Center Fire Department. He has been instrumental in organizing the annual golf tournament, the “Come Home to Lee Center” event and many other community activities. Whitmore retired from the New York State Department of Corrections in 2021 after serving 34 years. Since then, he has been involved in raising funds for various charities such as the NYS DEC kids to camp program, the Lee Center United Methodist Church and the Ronald McDonald House. He was recently recognized by Girl Scouts for his efforts in educating the Scouts on fire prevention and occupations associated with firefighting. He is a dual member of the American Legion Lee Post 1794 and its Sons of the American Legion Squadron.
The Law Enforcement Officer of the Year is Deputy Michael Wade of the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Wade is a member and leader of the SWAT team and a member of the Drug Interdiction Task Force. He is also a firearms instructor, academy instructor, K-9 Deputy, and Field Training Officer. Riley cited two incidents that supported Deputy Wade’s nomination for officer of the year. The first involved a fire in the Town of Caledonia, where Deputy Wade tried everything he could to rescue a woman from a burning building before and after the fire department arrived. He was injured by broken glass and overcome by smoke. Although unsuccessful, he showed great courage and passion for staying with the victim as long as he could, Riley said. The second incident happened in the Town of Avon where he responded to a report of a 3-year-old boy who had been run over by a lawn mower. He immediately got the boy on the ground, applied a tourniquet to the injured arm, and elevated the boy’s legs. He maintained critical care until EMS arrived. Emergency Room Doctors credited Deputy Wade with saving the young boy’s life.
ADDITIONAL AWARDS were presented for Outstanding Post, County, and District Law and Order Chairpersons and to recognize the Chairpersons for promoting the Law and Order/First Responder program.
The recipient for the Outstanding Post was Frank Beachel, chairman of the Law and Order Committee at the Conlon-Mulvaney Post #1779 in Conesus, Livingston County, 7th District.
The award for the Outstanding County Chairman went to Timothy Collmer of the Livingston County Law and Order Committee, 7th District. Collmer is a member of the Daniel Goho Post 87 in Dansville.
The last award was for Outstanding District Law and Order Chairperson.
Noting that there have been three district chairpersons who have consistently done an outstanding job during his five-year tenure as Department Law and Order chairman, Riley announced he was honoring all three district chairs: Jeffery French from the 3rd District, Paul Wojcik from the 5th District, and Cynthia Nelson from the 7th District.