Colo. EMS organization celebrates 40-year anniversary
Thompson Valley EMS started with just a dozen employees and grew to now more than 80 with a fleet of 12 ambulances across six stations
By Austin Fleskes
Loveland Reporter-Herald, Colo.
LOVELAND, Colo. — Thompson Valley EMS’ awards ceremony Saturday night held a great deal of significance as those gathered — from paramedics and EMTs to their families to local representatives — celebrated 40 years of serving local residents in their time of need.
Members of the organization, which dates back to 1983 as the Thompson Valley Ambulance Service before becoming TVEMS in 1998, gathered at the Embassy Suites in east Loveland Saturday night to celebrate the history of the department and look forward to the future.
“It is a combination,” Chief James Robinson said of the importance of the event. “It is looking back at the 40 years that got us to where we are now and what an incredible foundation we have built here. And now we are ready to jump into the future.”
Throughout the night members of the department shared the history of TVEMS, starting with just a dozen employees and growing to now more than 80 with a fleet of 12 ambulances across six stations, as well as the various programs that have been incorporated over the years.
But the night was more than just a retrospective of the last four decades, as it also served as an award ceremony for both former members of the department and current ones.
Over a roughly hour-and-a-half span, department leaders called up a number of individuals to be recognized for their work. This included former chief Randy Lesher who was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
“To be recognized with this group who is here today and to be remembered for what we did is very, very cool,” Lesher said at the end of the ceremony.
The night also saw the premier of the TVEMS Grit Award, a new award meant to recognize an employee who overcame a great ordeal and has continued to serve the department. The new award went to Lt. Colt Sheek and, after this year, the award will even be named after him.
Robinson said that at the end of 2022, Sheek and his now-fiancé were involved in a head-on collision that sent both to the hospital. Robinson said that while Sheek underwent a number of treatments to help his injuries from the crash as well as several surgeries, in March he had his right leg amputated, as it had been severely damaged in the crash.
Despite this, Sheek was able to get fitted for a prosthetic leg and returned back to TVEMS.
“He’s demonstrated more drive and grit than anyone I have ever seen,” Robinson said as he introduced the lieutenant.
Sheek told the Reporter-Herald the recognition was very overwhelming and even hard to keep it together as he accepted it.
“It is a great honor and service and all I wanted was to get back to work,” he said. “Now that I am back at work I am happier than I could ever be.”
“He has shown incredible persistence and strength through this whole thing,” Mikaela Spalding , Sheek’s fiancé, added. “I am happy to see him happy again.”
Sheek was even able to present the Legion of Merit Medal to members of the South Park Ambulance District who transported him and Spalding the night of the crash.
Both members of TVEMS as well as their partner organizations agreed Saturday night that the emergency service provides an important piece of the first responder puzzle for the area.
“It is an incredible partnership, and anytime we can recognize the contributions that they make to our community to make it safer we want to do that,” said Loveland Fire Rescue Authority Chief Tim Sendelbach .
Larimer County Commissioner Jody Shadduck-McNally , who said she has done various trainings with TVEMS over several years, said the department is an organization that takes great pride in empowering their staff to be the best they can be.
“I have seen this organization for over 30 years, and I think what I value is this is a community (partner),” she said. “They value collaboration and partnerships because when you are ons cene you need everyone to work together as a team. And I think they do a lot more than provide patient care, they give back to the community in so many ways.”
“It is incredible to witness all the acts of bravery and the personal stories and the connections that tie this whole community together,” Loveland Police Department Chief Tim Doran said. “I think Chief Robinson is a wonderful addition to this community and I am proud to call him a brother. The three chiefs of this area just couldn’t be more aligned.”
Lesher said the community doesn’t realize just what a gem TVEMS is.
“There isn’t another one in the state ... that runs like this one does,” he said.
Robinson told the crowd as the ceremony concluded that he considered it a gift to be gathered together to celebrate all TVEMS has done and will do.
“The foundation here is strong and we are going to do great things in the future,” he said.