Public Safety Appreciation ceremony honors Vail Valley First Responders | VailDaily.com

Public Safety Appreciation ceremony honors Vail Valley First Responders

Editor's note: Visit this article at http://www.vaildaily.com for more photos from the Public Safety Appreciation Awards.

VAIL — Some people run toward trouble as the rest of us are running for our lives.

This week's Public Safety Appreciation Awards celebrated those who do exactly that.

"Why?" asked Rev. Scott Beebe, who delivered the keynote address. "They're just good people."

Dozens of first responders gathered Tuesday, Sept. 12, at Vail's Donovan Pavilion for the annual event, sponsored by Eagle County's three rotary clubs.

Throughout the evening, the occasional radio crackled quietly, reminding those in the crowd that the "good people" are never more than a moment from jumping up and rushing into harm's way.

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Unit Citation Awards

Detective Jeremy Hawkins, Sgt. Thomas Rich and Field Training Officer Balmore Herrera rushed to a local club where a man was trying to choke someone. One of the men involved in the altercation had punched a wire mesh window, and blood was gushing from his artery. The three officers strapped a tourniquet on him to stop the bleeding and put a shock blanket on him.

Paramedics later said that without the police officers' quick action, the man would likely have bled to death.

The second Unit Citation Award went to the Vail Public Safety Communications Center's Mobile Command Unit Incident Dispatch Team, Amber Droegemeier, Fernando Almanza and Charles Fleming. They're so busy that Droegemeier missed the awards night because she was serving at the Himes Fire in Rio Blanco County.

The third Unit Citation Award went to Vail Mountain Rescue Group and the Colorado Army National Guard's High Altitude Aviation Training Site. On Nov. 21, 2016, two teenaged hikers were on Mount of the Holy Cross when a blizzard blew in and they got lost. A two-day ground and air effort saw searchers spend more than 200 man hours searching for the teens. They were found, cold and miserable, but alive.

Leadership Awards

Lt. Seth Molina, of Police Explorer Post 204, made the trip to Vail from college at Texas A&M to receive his award. Molina volunteered more than 750 hours last year, organizing and leading other Explorers.

Ross Wilmore recently retired as the East Zone Fire Management officer with the U.S. Forest Service. Wilmore spent 32 years managing all federal wildland fires in Eagle and Summit counties.

Avon Police Officer Al Zepeda works with the local VFW Post, organized the Avon Police Department's Polar Plunge for Special Olympics of Colorado and helped put together the Special Olympics Eagle County torch run. Zepeda spent 24 years in the U.S. Navy before beginning his law enforcement career.

The Distinguished Service Award

Lisa Vasquez, a master deputy with the Eagle County Sheriff's Office, and Brad Stamp, an officer with the Avon Police Department, arrived at a bridge in Avon to find a suicidal woman. She was already on the river side of the guardrail. Vasquez began speaking calmly to the woman while Stamp quietly worked his way into position. They were able to grab the woman and pull her to safety.

Call of the Year

On Jan. 11, 2017, Vail Fire and Emergency Services and Eagle County Paramedic Services were called to a private home where one person was unconscious and two others soon would be.

Lt. Josh Hebrew cleared everyone out of the home before leaving himself.

The crews found a carbon monoxide buildup. The patients and fire crew were treated for elevated carbon monoxide levels.

Without the quick action of Hebrew, engineer Mitch Raines, firefighter Kraig Leach, paramedic Steve Zuckerman and EMT Andrea Messier, the high level of carbon monoxide might have killed the people in the home.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

Eagle County Public Safety Appreciation Awards

• Business Partnership: Mike Staten and Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District

• Unit Citation for Meritorious Service: Det. Jeremy Hawkins, Sgt. Thomas Rich, Balmore Herrera, Eagle Police Department; Vail Public Safety Communications Center, MCU, Incident Dispatch Team; Vail Mountain Rescue, Colorado Army National Guard, HAATS

• Leadership: Lt. Seth Molina, Police Explorers Post 204; Ross Wilmore, East Zone Fire Management Officer, U.S. Forest Service; Officer Al Zepada, Avon Police Department

• Distinguished Service: Master Deputy Vasquez, Eagle County Sheriff’s Office; Officer Brad Stamp, Avon Police Department

• Call of the Year: Vail Fire & Emergency Services, Eagle County Paramedic Services