Protecting the Sisters community

 

Last updated 3/26/2024 at 1:33pm

Photo by Sue Stafford

Bagpipers from the Bend Fire & Rescue Pipes and Drums Band kicked off the annual Sisters Fire District awards ceremony at FivePine.

A drug overdose. A suicide attempt. Patients in cardiac arrest and not breathing. Two calls in February 2023, only three days apart - and two lives saved through professional care, quick thinking, and intervention including advanced life support provided by paramedics of the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District.

April 2023: Using CPR and rapid intubation, paramedics got a patient with a self-inflicted gunshot transferred to a waiting air ambulance, to be taken to the hospital. The patient fully recovered, and was discharged from the hospital. Sisters Fire Chief Johnson described the incident report for this call as "incredible."

A seizure and a fall in May 2023 left a Sisters patient with significant head trauma, causing unconsciousness. Using rapid sequence intubation, Sisters paramedics saved the patient's life.

Lives saved were at the heart of the annual Awards and Recognition Ceremony for Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District (SCSFD), held at FivePine Conference Center on March 8. With quiet understatement, Chief Johnson summarized the importance of these lifesaving incidents as "making a difference every day."

The FivePine Conference room was filled with Sisters residents who share a common goal – protecting life and property. This was Chief Johnson's last awards event before his retirement on July 1, and he shared thoughtful reflections, pride in the organization, and a big dollop of humor.

The evening kicked off with the rousing sound of bagpipes and drums from the Bend Fire & Rescue Pipes and Drums Band, replete with kilts and beribboned hats.

After acknowledging the leadership of the district Board of Directors, Budget Committee, and Civil Service Commission, all populated by Sisters residents, Johnson thanked special guests and agency partners who offer collaborative support to the work of SCSFD. He referred to the board as, "the engine that keeps us moving." Board members are Kristie Miller, president; Rob Schulz; Jack McGowan; Rodney Cooper; and Tom Herrmann.

It takes many high-functioning teams to provide quality service to the community and Chief Johnson explained the duties of each team. Two of the three stations run by SCSFD are staffed by volunteer firefighters in Whychus Creek Canyon Estates and Camp Sherman.

"We couldn't deliver the services we do without them," Johnson said.

The Fire Corps members, all of whom are citizen volunteers, provide a variety of non-emergency services and programs to the community, enabling first responders to focus more on training and response activities. Their varied experience and careers allow them to care for the community and support the work of SCSFD by running blood pressure clinics, the address sign program, the smoke alarm program, the car seat program, burn to learn, and CPR/AED and first-aid training. They also conduct the Spirit of Christmas Giving Tree gift drive for children. Johnson said the Sisters Fire Corps is the largest one in the state of Oregon.

The resident volunteers live in the station while attending school to become career firefighters. They receive valuable on-the-job training while in residence.

Johnson referred to the Administrative Staff as "amazing."

"They are the most solid, cohesive, professional staff we've had," he said. "I appreciate your support and encouragement."

The staff includes Tim Craig, deputy chief of operations and training; Julie Spor, executive assistant/financial manager; Angela Linker, office assistant; Jeff Puller, division chief and fire safety manager; and Steven Lord, firefighter, EMT, and community risk specialist.

There are two mechanics - James Schwartz and Trevor Stratton - who keep all the engines and equipment running smoothly.

The line staff consists of three shifts with three firefighters on each shift, which is staffed 48 hours on, 96 hours off, rotating their duty so one shift is always at the station.

The Association Board, headed by President Kevin Cramer, is the philanthropic arm of SCSFD and supports the community service events.

Board of Directors president, Kristie Miller, encouraged the assembly to "celebrate what we do." She relayed that the board is proud of the district staff and, "although we don't go on calls with you, our hearts are with you. We appreciate all the work you do." She congratulated and thanked Chief Johnson for his 12 years of service to Sisters.

Who receives the awards is determined by all members of the SCSFD, who nominate and vote on co-workers they believe possess exceptional skills in performing their duties, being a role model for other employees and volunteers, and exemplifying what it means to be a "public servant."

Awards were presented to personnel with five, 10, 15, and 20 years of service (see inset, page 19). The Chief's Award for Excellence is not necessarily given every year, but this year the recipient was Julie Spor, described by Johnson as "the glue that keeps this place together and running, and she does it with grace and passion."

Photo by Sue Stafford

Fire Chief Roger Johnson presided over his final awards banquet as fire chief. He retires July 1.

Spor, who has been with the district for 20 years, is an integral part of organizing the awards event. Keeping her selection a secret from her presented numerous challenges. This spring Spor will be receiving a degree in accounting from Eastern Oregon University.

While presenting the Lifesaving Incident Awards, Chief Johnson recounted the situations faced by the responding firefighters/EMTs/paramedics as they did their job of saving lives.

Two long-serving volunteers who passed away within the last year were remembered fondly with a moment of silence and a standing ovation by those in the room. Dave Moyer was a volunteer captain for the district for over 50 years. Bruce Shaull was a volunteer firefighter and a Fire Corps volunteer when he retired.

Each of the awards presented last Friday night went to ordinary people who do extraordinary things to be of service in our community. The next time a siren goes by, remember the men and women who are responding to someone's emergency.

 

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