By GILBERT HOFFMAN
HIGHLANDS Each year the Highlands Fire Department holds an Installation Banquet, with recognition of outstanding service.
Chief Harvey Little is always the emcee for these awards. This year, for a change, he was recognized himself, as the Firefighter of the Year. This top award is given in recognition of the Firefighter who has by vote of the membership, performed above and beyond the call of duty as a volunteer.
Other top awards were given to Raymond Gonzalez, as Citizen of the Year, and his store, Food Town, was the Business of the Year. He received this notice because during the hurricanes, Gonzalez made available food and supplies in the store that was needed by local residents and officials.
Other awards went to Littles grandson, Kyle Little as Junior Firefighter of the year, and Rafael Errusuriz as Rookie of the Year.
The chaplain for this year is Beau Rosser, pastor of Highlands Second Baptist Church. The mascot is Michaela Mays.
Training for 2006 will be by Jerry Thompson for the Firefighters, and Kacey Sammons for the EMS.
Chief Little reviewed the accomplishments of the department in 2005. He mentioned the acquisition of a new Pierce Contender Pumper, and a Chevrolet 4×4 Brush Truck.
In fund raising, the annual BBQ raised a $9500 profit, and the department received a $85,000 FEMA grant, for breathing air apparatus. Other grants included $6200 from the Texas Forest Service. Little said that response times had been reduced.
Goals for 2006 include purchase of a thermal imaging camera, to locate bodies within a blazing building.
Station One was paid off in September. During Hurricane Rita the department was staffed and on full alert around the clock.
The department currently has 86 members affiliated, with 38 regular firefighters, 7 EMS only personnel, and 20 EMS part time paid.
Other statistics include a total of 1443 fire and EMS calls, as follows: 1228 EMS, 215 fire. Also 683 EMS transports, 121 vehicle accidents, and 31 Life Flights.
John Hughes, not present, was noted for his 40 years of service to the department.
EMS accomplishments were reviewed by the director, Kacey Sammons. She noted that new paramedics had been added, and thanked Dr. Paul Thoree, the volunteer medical director.
C-PAC equipment has been added, for heart failure and drowning victims.
The department hosted displaced EMS personnel from New Orleans at Christmas-time.
In 2006, the EMS will re-chassis an older ambulance, Sammons said. She thanked the Asst. EMS director, Teresa Campbell, for her outstanding work, especially on the paperwork.
The banquet was held at Bradys Landing, on the ship channel, with about 100 persons attending.
Top volunteers of the department who were recognized included Nathan Mathews, Rafael Errisuriz, Mike Carsner, Jerry Thompson, Samantha Hughes, Tommy McMorrow, Reggie Elliott, Josh Alford, and Teresa Campbell.
One Year of Service: Craig Lucas, Rafael Errisuriz, Courtney Briscoe, Kyle Little, Mike Carsner, Justin Faught. Five Years of Service, Zachary Brackin, Ben Mayeaux.
Harvey Little Firefighter of Year
By GILBERT HOFFMAN