When Hall County Sheriff’s Deputy Ana Smith ran into a mobile home that was engulfed in flames to pull out a woman, she wasn’t wearing any fire protection gear, and she wasn’t thinking about the danger.
“I was just thinking I needed to get her out, and she wasn’t responding to my verbal commands, so I just went in,” said Smith, who choked on huge clouds of black smoke and located the woman by touch because she couldn’t see her.
The mother of two who Smith rescued at the home off Keith Circle had gone back into the tinderbox to salvage belongings and had to be dragged out by the deputy as the fire spread inside.
Smith’s life-saving act of heroism earned her the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association’s Deputy of the Year Award of Valor Thursday night. She was one of three people from Hall County to be recognized at the GSA’s annual conference, held at Lake Lanier Islands.
Sheriff Steve Cronic, the 2007 Sheriff of the Year, was awarded the 2010 President’s Award by McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshal for Cronic’s work raising money for the Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes through golf tournaments and motorcycle runs, as well as his service to the association.
Jim Syfan accepted the 2010 Meritorious Service Award on behalf of his son Steve for the family’s contributions to local law enforcement.
The Syfans have donated money to buy Tasers for courthouse security, drug dogs for the high schools and paid for members of the sheriff’s honor guard to travel to Washington, D.C., to honor deputy Tim White, who died in the line of service.
Cronic, speaking on the Syfans’ contributions, said his office had to separate its budgetary needs from its wants in tough economic times.
“But there are things that we want to do above and beyond, and thanks to outstanding support from our community, we’re able to do these things,” Cronic said.
Smith, who works in the sheriff’s domestic violence unit, has been with the agency for seven years and in law enforcement for 11 years. She is the second Hall County deputy to receive the statewide honor in the last four years.
Smith said she fell into the profession accidentally while job hunting and now can’t imagine doing anything else.
“I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” said Smith, who was the Northeastern Judicial Circuit Domestic Violence Officer of the Year in 2009. “Each day is different. My co-workers are great, my bosses are awesome, the training that we receive is good, so I really can’t ask for too much more.”
Smith said she was “surprised and honored” by the state recognition.
“I look forward to many more years of serving,” she said.