Carroll County first responders win top state awards
CARROLL COUNTY -- The 2012 Arkansas EMT Association EMS Conference was held this past weekend in Hot Springs, and Northwest Arkansas counties dominated, winning five of the 11 awards given at the banquet.
Carroll County took home three of the awards, making them the top winning county of the 75 in the state.
The awards banquet and conference were hosted by the Arkansas EMT Association, which is a nonprofit organization that strives to promote the professional status of the state's First Responders and EMTs, while encouraging continued education in the field to achieve the highest levels of Emergency Medical Services excellence.
Awards won by Carroll County's neighbors include the Paramedic of the Year award for the people at North Ark in Harrison, Ozark won Basic Life Support Service of the year, and Madison County EMS who won Advanced Life Support Service of the year.
In Carroll County, Eureka Springs Fire Department was selected as the 2012 Fire/EMS Service of the Year. Eureka Springs Fire Chief Rhys Williams said Monday of the award, "This was an incredible honor, and it is the product of the effort and dedication of the people of our department."
According to Williams, the Eureka Springs Fire Department, which was started 129 years ago in 1883, has 13 paid employees and 25 volunteers who handle 1200 medical calls and 120 fire calls a year.
Williams added that continued education and training, and recent conferences, have helped to keep the standard of care and responsiveness high.
Jack Deaton, Chief of the Holiday Island Fire Department, expressed his pride and excitement with his team who were selected as the 2012 First Responder Service of the Year.
"I am very proud of the hard work and training the team has put into the department," said Deaton. "I am glad this small department has been recognized for their efforts in such a prestigious way."
The Holiday Island Department is a volunteer organization of 29 people, but have 13 of those members trained to work as Emergency Medical Technicians as well as in fighting fires.
An award that got acclaim from both chiefs and from others in the Carroll County EMT community was the 2012 Instructor of the Year award which was given to Suellyn Fry. There were 20 nominations submitted for this award, but Fry's nomination came with glowing letters of recommendation from Senator Randy Laverty, Representative Bryan King, County Judge Sam Barr and many others.
Fry has been an instrumental member of the Emergency Services Community in Carroll County for decades, and has been an EMT instructor for about 20 years.
Fry, who had been a member of the South Carroll County Fire Department and worked for various ambulance services, was badly injured in an accident while responding to a cardiac call seven years ago. That accident left her off work for three months, and with injuries that have taken her out of the field and still trouble her today.
Fry now works as a pharmacy tech at Mercy Hospital -- Berryville, but she has continued to teach ceaselessly, offering classes for EMT's, C.E.R.T., First Aid, CPR and even babysitting classes.
Julie Gibson, a past student and colleague of Fry's who helped prepare the nomination for the award mentioned the very high pass rates for her classes stating,
"The classes are intense, with so much information, it is not uncommon to see only a few people pass a class like this, but Suellyn is a very good teacher who communicates well, and her pass rates are very good."
When asked to comment on her high pass rates as a teacher, Fry responded with the "aw shucks" humility that is common with people who give so selflessly for so long. "The students passed because they all care and work very hard."
She was also very reserved when asked to comment on her award. "I was humbled," said Fry. "I didn't expect it, and I don't think I deserved it, but I appreciate the kind words of those who helped with my nomination."
Fry seems to be the only one who thinks she didn't deserve it. Chiefs Williams and Deaton both commented on her service to the county and offered congratulations.
Nick Samac, Director of the Office of Emergency Management for Carroll County, said, "Suellyn is a person everyone in Carroll County should be proud of. She has worked so hard for so long and has taught so many so much, that it would be hard to estimate how many lives have been saved through her personal efforts in the field and through her legacy which can be seen in the knowledge carried by so many people who roll out to respond to calls here in Northwest Arkansas."
Fry has expressed her gratitude, she is obviously overwhelmed by her supporters and friends, and said she just plans to continue teaching while she can and hopes to see Carroll County continue to shine. She says she is very proud of the EMS community here in the county.