Regular readers will no doubt recall that we have a high view on this page of those who work in the city’s emergency services communities. Whether police, firefighters or rescue personnel, we recognize the dangers they face in the course of their duties, the sacrifices they make to serve the city and — sometimes — the normal fears they must overcome to be in the situations that most folks would do just about anything to avoid.
But, as with any occupation, some take that service to another level, and it’s therefore appropriate that the city of Suffolk takes time to honor those police and emergency services workers who have set great examples in their service during the past year. The Department of Fire and Rescue held its annual promotion and honors ceremony recently, and we would be remiss if we did not take the opportunity to congratulate those who were honored.
Senior Firefighter Les Lemasters, who has been with the department since 2002, was honored as Firefighter of the Year. A 1998 graduate of Western Branch High School, was a student at Tidewater Community College when he saw an advertisement encouraging volunteers for Driver Volunteer Fire Department. He now works as a paid firefighter at Station 5 on Bridge Road.
“I just enjoy helping people in the community,” he said. “People call us, because they’re having a really bad day, so they are calling us looking at us to help them in some way.”
Lt. Eric Thrush was honored as Paramedic of the Year at the October event. Thrush has been with Suffolk Fire and Rescue for 21 years and currently runs out of Station 6 on King’s Fork Road. He also started as a volunteer, but in Virginia Beach. He also worked with Portsmouth EMS before coming to Suffolk.
“I felt like what I wanted to do was help people,” he said of why he started volunteering. “That was my way of helping people.”
Eric Wynne of the Holland Volunteer Fire Department was named the Volunteer Firefighter of the Year. Wynne, 21, had just turned 18 when he started volunteering. He followed in the footsteps of his father, who used to volunteer in York County.
These men epitomize the commitment and professionalism of Suffolk firefighters and emergency medical service providers. The city is blessed to have their service, and we salute them and all the other award winners from the recent program.