Exemplary Service Medal by MLA Dr. Richard Starke on February 8.
Right: From left, Vermilion Fire Chief Bill Roth was awarded a 32 year Alberta Emergency Services Medal
and a 30 year Exemplary Service Medal from MLA Dr. Richard Starke.
Dignitaries and emergency services members gathered at the Kitscoty Hall on February 8, as the County of Vermilion River held their biennial Firefighter’s Appreciation Ball. County Chief, Orest Popil emceed the event, and guests enjoyed a meal followed by a presentation, and entertainment by the Les Lahey Band. County Reeve, Dale Swyripa said, “The recognition shown is truly deserving for what you do. A special thanks to Orest Popil; a man of commitment and care, and who’s experience allows him to react quickly. Vermilion-Lloydminster MLA Dr. Richard Starke, Kitscoty Mayor Daryl Frank, Marwayne Mayor Cheryl Eikland, Mayor of Paradise Valley Mary Arnold, Dewberry Mayor Ken Haney, and Vermilion Mayor Caroline McAuley were in attendance. Thank you all for the service you provide. We are immensely grateful to you for putting your time, effort, and safety on the line, and putting your community first,” said Caroline McAuley. At a past celebration in the province with Lieutenant Governor Lois Mitchell, MLA Dr. Richard Starke noted that out of 200 recognised, over 30 came from this corner of the province. “It’s just amazing to me that over 80 per cent of firefighters in our province are volunteers. Firefighters in this area are some of the highest skilled in the province. Thank you for your dedication, commitment, and professionalism, as well as to your families for their support, and to your employers for allowing you to take the time to make your communities what they are today,” said MLA Starke. County Chief, Orest Popil thanked the firefighters and first responders and said, “Over the years the main thing was to have funding for training. It’s one big family here, and everyone does what they have to do to make it work.” County resident, Lisa Hansen shared her experience and thankfulness. She began her involvement in 2010 as a Lakeland College Enrollment Specialist, where she marvelled at the culture of firefighters. She watched and at times interacted during their training, valuing those as “incredible” experiences. “Nearly one year ago on family day weekend my husband and I travelled from Marwayne to Vermilion and were heading back, but didn’t make it home. It happened so quickly! I woke pinned between the dash and the windshield in the seatbelt after a tractor had pulled out in front of us. I remember being told, ‘Hang on, help’s on the way.” I closed my eyes consumed in fear. Twelve members of the Vermilion Fire/ Rescue Squad arrived and I received my first feeling of hope. My husband and I are grateful to be alive. Our experience is not unique. All year long, I cannot imagine living for the tone calling you to go because somewhere someone like me needs you. It seems woefully inadequate, but all I have for you is a sincere thank you,” said Hansen. Long service awards and two medal ceremonies took place including Alberta Emergency Services Medals/Bars, and Fire Services Exemplary Service Medals. “It has been quite a year for our County Fire and Rescue teams. Half way through 2018, the hours of service had doubled over the entire previous year. To the end of the year, 5,207 hours were spent responding to 408 calls within the County (an increase of 1,336 hours over 2017),” said Popil. Twelve, 22, 32, and even a 40 year medal/bar were given on behalf of the province, and 20, 30, and a 40 year medals were given as federal recognition. County Fire Chief Orest Popil received a 20 year medal, Vermilion Fire Chief Bill Roth received 30 and 32 year medals, and Dewberry Mayor and Deputy Fire Chief Ken Haney received 30 and 32 year medals. The County of Vermilion River Fire Services includes Lloydminster Rescue, and departments in Dewberry, Clandonald, Vermilion, Islay, Marwayne, Kitscoty, Paradise Valley, and Blackfoot. Overall, everyone enjoyed the opportunity to celebrate firefighters and acknowledge their outstanding service in the County.