The men and women that serve Hall County were honored Friday night during the inaugural Hall County Fire Services Awards Ceremony, held at the First Baptist Church of Gainesville’s banquet hall.
“It was phenomenal. It’s very important,” said Capt. Christie Grice, the recipient of one of four Chief’s Awards given to those who performed in a manner worthy of recognition. “We do this on a daily basis and no one ever really truly gets recognized. We don’t ever expect to get recognized, but it’s always nice that our brothers and sisters are supporting us.”
The keynote address by Lt. Col. Kevin Jarrard of the U.S. Marine Corps addressed the valor displayed by those gathered at the event.
“The primary purpose of tonight is to recognize excellence and to reward it,” Jarrard said. “As I review the list of awards to be confirmed, all are related to your duties as public servants, firefighters, emergency technicians and paramedics.
“Those that answer when a fellow citizen calls for help.”
Special guests of the night were some citizens there to thank their rescuers, who were being honored with Lifesaving awards. The emergency recordings were played before each survivor was introduced.
“I think it gives a connection to the community,” said Sgt. John Murray. Because of his exemplary performance throughout the year, receiving praise and recognition of his ability to go above and beyond from both citizens and colleagues, Murray was named Paramedic of the Year.
“So often we only get to see community members during their time of emergency,” Murray said. “This is an event where we can make that connection between provider and patient.
“Typically that’s such a special connection. So often you drop them off at the hospital and you never see them again, so for something like that where you have a direct result of the work that you worked so hard to try to get to, it’s just a really special thing. You can see a tangible piece of the puzzle.”
Grice shared similar thoughts.
“That actually puts a lot more empathy into it so everyone here can understand, not only from our standpoint but from their standpoint,” Grice said.
The event was made possible with donations from many community sponsors, with Turbo Truck Center honored as top sponsor for the night.
“We couldn’t have done this without the support of not only the community, but our sponsors that we had as well and everyone that was here,” Grice said.
As part of the awards committee, Grice was confident the turnout and success of the event would be become a yearly tradition.
“Tonight we had a little over 200 people show up,” Grice said. “Our department is 360, a little over 360 personnel, so you look at that and those numbers with the exception of the people who were on shift tonight, we had a very, very good turnout.”