Banquet to honor area’s first responders

Published 7:04pm Monday, March 25, 2013

As a way to say thank you to those who are on the scene first in emergency situations, the Local Emergency Planning Committee is hosting its 2nd annual First Responder Banquet on Friday, April 12 at the Old National Guard Armory. 

The banquet is meant to honor all first responders in Selma and Dallas County, paid and volunteer.

Selma Fire Department Chief Michael Stokes said since last year’s banquet was such a success, he expects this year’s to be great too.

“It just gives an opportunity to come together as different agencies to meet each other, because often times we don’t have an opportunity to mingle with each other until we’re actually out at an emergency,” Stokes said.

Agencies that will be recognized include the city of Selma fire and police departments, the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, CARE Ambulances and all Dallas County volunteer fire departments.

Along with dinner and several presentations, a “First Responder of the Year” award will be given to a deserving resident, Stokes said.

“What we do is ask that each agency submit a list of people who show outstanding character and dedication, and then the banquet committee chooses a responder of the year for Dallas County,” Stokes explained.

In Dallas County, Stokes estimated that there are about 575 first responders.

“That’s a lot of dedicated people,” he said. “This is just a way to recognize all their hard work.”

Last year’s banquet boasted 280 residents, all uniting under one roof.

“This type of setting enables responders to get to know each other before placed face to face in a disaster scenario,” said EMA Director Rhonda Abbott in a press release. “These men and women give of themselves daily to protect Dallas County in some capacity, and these responders truly feel honored at the banquet.”

And although Stokes said he expects the banquet to be a success, he said monetary donations are still needed in order for the banquet to be held.

Donations can be made through the Dallas County Commission, written for the LEPC.

“The volunteers, they’re already doing this for free and everybody else — no one is getting rich,” Stokes said. “It’s just a way for the community to give back one evening, just a few hours.”

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