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Va. FD receives state’s top 2 EMS awards

The James City County Fire Department received the highest state honors for an EMS provider

By Sam Schaffer
The Virginia Gazette

RICHMOND, Va. — The James City County Fire Department recently received two top state awards for its emergency services.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin recognized the department with the award for Outstanding Contribution to EMS Health and Safety and the award for Outstanding EMS Agency. The two awards were among just 13 handed out to EMS agencies and first responders throughout the state.

“These awards are the highest honor an EMS provider or organization can receive at the state level,” according to a news release from the governor’s office. The awards, which were presented on May 20, are administered by the Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Emergency Medical Services.

Youngkin announced the awards during the week of May 19-25, which he designated EMS Week in Virginia. EMS providers responded to more than 1.72 million calls for help last year in Virginia, which represents approximately 4,712 incidents per day, according to the governor’s release.

“During EMS Week, I had the honor of recognizing the 2023 Governor’s EMS Award recipients and thanked them for their incredible contributions to Virginia’s EMS System,” Youngkin said in the release.

” Virginia’s EMS providers rush in to save Virginians who are sick or injured by providing the best prehospital care, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Thank you for your heroic efforts and for protecting the well-being of all Virginians.”

The James City County Board of Supervisors commended Fire Chief Ryan Ashe and all members of the department at its work session Tuesday. Board Chair Ruth Larson called the awards — and the department — outstanding.

“It’s amazing the hours and time that are put in in just a working day,” Supervisor Michael Hipple said. “We’re glad that you and your team are out there to protect us.”

” Governor Youngkin’s selection reflects something we in the County have known for a very long time,” Larson later said. “We all owe a debt of gratitude to the hard-working EMS providers and firefighters for their dedication every day.”

For its commitment to health and safety, the fire department points to its numerous health and safety mechanisms, two sets of turnout gear, cancer risk reduction efforts, the use of therapy dogs and physical fitness standards. The awards recognize the department as a being a regional leader in prehospital care, community engagement and emergency preparedness.

“If it wasn’t for the men and women of our department who are out there serving our community every day, we wouldn’t be able to get that recognition,” Ashe said. “I think that’s really a big deal for our folks.”

Also receiving EMS awards were three members of the LifeEvac emergency medical helicopter program, which is part of VCU Health. LifeEvac, which has a base in West Point, services Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center and Riverside Doctors’ Hospital Williamsburg. Dr. Benjamin Nicholson and flight nurses Beverly Harris and Matthew Jensen were recognized for their outstanding contributions.

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