The Nugget Newspaper - News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

By Jim Cornelius
News Editor 

Firefighters honor service


Last updated 4/22/2014 at Noon

Jim Cornelius

Jay Crawford, left, was presented with EMT of the Year honors by fire district board president Chuck Newport.

Sisters firefighters gathered at FivePine Lodge & Conference Center last Saturday evening to honor their own for outstanding service to the community.

A strong ethic of service is apparent in the department, which makes singling out outstanding performance a challenge, as fire district board chairman Chuck Newport noted in his remarks.

"Tonight we celebrate the best of our ranks for their performance the past year," he said. "These individuals are not chosen for these awards by the board, or the chiefs, or the community, but are selected by a vote of their peers in the department, which is the most respected recognition they can get.

"That said, I want to recognize every person in the organization: Chiefs, captains, line staff, office staff, volunteers, auxiliary volunteers and friends and family who support what you do. We're here to recognize your outstanding peers' performances tonight, but I know it's really the teamwork that makes this department remarkable. Whether you are hosting a conference, putting on a Easter egg hunt or haunted house, teaching classes at the high school or CPR classes for the community, responding to structure fires and wildfires or medical emergencies, it is the teamwork that makes this department successful."

Keynote speaker Jack McGowan spoke on the spirit of service, which he saw on a grand scale when he and his wife, Jan, directed thousands of volunteers in beach cleanups with SOLV (Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism).

McGowan described that ethic of service as "an eternal spiritual hunger to be part of something that is bigger than yourself."

Those who serve others, McGowan noted, can lay their head on the pillow at night knowing something worthwhile: "I made my corner of the world just a little bit better."

This year's awardees know they made Sisters a better place - and in some cases they helped someone in this community live to see another day.

Fire medic Ben Bruegeman, volunteer Matt Millar and student Bryce Hughes received the Lifesaving Award for a call in which a man was found unconscious in an outhouse at Santiam Sno-Park. Fire Chief Roger Johnson described the touch-and-go circumstances in which the medics struggled to keep the heart patient alive.

"To go from clinically dead - no pulse - in an outhouse to walking out of the hospital," he said, "that's a very good save."

Marsha Marr was noted for saving a life in a different way. Marr, as an auxiliary volunteer, has been leading the district's blood pressure clinics. Through the clinic, a woman was found to be experiencing a medicine incompatibility that put her at risk of cardiac arrest. That situation was resolved thanks to the clinic, likely saving the woman's life.

Chief Johnson noted that 80 percent of the department's calls are medical in nature and he wholeheartedly endorsed the selection of Jay Crawford as EMT of the year for his work in responding to those calls.

Jim Cornelius

Gail Butler, Bryce Hughes, Cody Meredith, Matt Millar, Ben Breugeman and Jay Crawford were among those honored by their peers Saturday night.

Dave Keller earned Firefighter of the Year honors while Matt Millar was named Volunteer of the Year. Auxiliary Volunteer of the Year honors went to Gail Butler, while Cody Meredith was honored for Outstanding Fire Fitness. Bryce Hughes was named both Student of the Year and Rookie of the Year.

Chief Johnson offered up awards for excellence to T.J. Johansen for fire education work; Dave Wellington for leading the high school's fire science program; Les Schell and Gail Butler for leading the auxiliary program; Marsha Marr for her blood pressure clinic work; Ron Ketchum for his volunteer participation; and Bill Hayes as the number-one responding volunteer.

Seven members of the department marked 10 years of service: Julie Spor (who spearheaded the organization of the awards dinner); Doug Myers; Dave Wellington; Taylor Robertson; Les Schell; Roy Dean; and Bruce Schaull.

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 5415499941


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