Chicamacomico firefighters, water rescuers gather for end-of-year presentations

Published 8:21 am Sunday, January 1, 2023

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This New Year’s Day and every day men and women are ready to respond to emergencies.

Firefighting on Hatteras Island and throughout small villages in northeastern North Carolina is accomplished by volunteers.

In some departments, annual, end-of-the-year dinners and award presentations are held at fire stations or restaurants or community buildings.

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This December, the Chicamacomico Banks Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department firefighters and water rescue lifeguards gathered at the Salvo Fire Hall for a delicious dinner prepared and delivered by Boardwok South restaurant in Salvo.

The comradery of these responders is unmistakable. “You all are my family,” said one. Leaders are well regarded and respected.

Chicamacomico Banks Fire and Rescue Department is unique on Hatteras Island. The men and women gathered Dec. 10 deliver firefighting and rescue services on roads and from May to mid-October on about 27 miles of ocean and sound waters.

Those who are members of the Water Rescue team must be comfortable in challenging surf conditions. On Hatteras Island beaches, no red flags warn beach goers of dangerous surf. Patrolling water rescuers are the ones bringing messages about beach safety.

“We all make a difference,” said Chicamacomico Banks Fire Chief Mike Daugherty. These firefighters and beach rescuers routinely run with the Rodanthe-stationed Emergency Medical Services team. Said one person receiving help, “it felt so good to see a face that I know.”

This year, firefighters responded to 400 calls.

In 2022, water rescuers pulled 200 people from ocean waters and responded to 104 calls. Some 67 responses happened before the dispatcher called.

The department’s water rescue team now has a dozen emergency medical technicians on the beach. Three recently passed the state’s EMT-B test. Earning the certification are Garret Porter, Cory Cartier and Crew Smith. The water rescue team is part of the fire department, so firefighting certifications are also valued.

At the dinner, awards were presented as well as certificates for service.

Fire Department officers are Chief Mike Daugherty, Deputy Chief Clyde Thompson, Lieutenant Esben Boxer and Chief Engineer Tim Fitch.

Acknowledged with 2022 awards were:

Firefighter of the Year: Justin Keeley

Fire Rookie of the year: Garret Porter

Chief’s award: Kristin Weigle

Lifetime Achievement Award: Jessie Kilgour

Community Service Award: Alex McCune (Alex’s Shrimp Shack), who is helping with restoration of the old Salvo Post Office.

Leaders for Water Rescue are Captains Craig Dietsch and Ben Abe.

Water Rescuer of the Year: Tim Rhodes

Water Rescue Rookie of the Year: Crew Smith

Water Rescue Captain’s award: Chris Cowan

In 2022, these 34 men and women served as members of the Chicamacomico Banks Fire and Rescue Department: Aaron Roundtree, Adam Bittman, Amberly Dyer, Anna Grelecka, Brian Lancaster, Buddy Splisgardt, Chris Cowan, Conner Roberts, Cory Cartier, Crew Smith, David Weigle, David Smith, Elaine Hooper, Ervin Harper, Garret Porter, Gene Stoel, Greg Wagner, Hank West, Isaiah Arnold, Jacob Lynch, Jessie Kilgour, John Contestable, John Dalkowski, John Rudis, Justin Keeley, Kristin Weigle, Matt Parker, Matt Bayley, Mud Bailey, Owen Marish, Tim Rhodes, Tyler Roberts, Wade Weigel and Zachary Giroux.