Public Safety Lifeline Volunteer Award Winners 2017
From left: Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness Naomi Yamamoto, Christine Ritson, Emergency Management BC, Chris Duffy, Emergency Management BC, Ian Foss, Emergency Management BC, Al and Kathy Kasatkin, PEP Air, Tom Hopkins and Steve Kallies, Fernie Road Rescue, Ralph Mohrmann, Emergency Management BC, Deborah Reid, Emergency Social Services, Rob Reid, Brad Sills, Whistler Search and Rescue, Pixie Sills. More photos
Emergency Social Services – Deborah Reid (Vancouver Island Region)
Deborah has dedicated herself to volunteering in the Victoria area since 1997. First joining her local Neighbourhood Emergency Preparedness Program and then the Emergency Social Services (ESS) team, Deborah soon became an ESS director. She has also gone on to be a valued part of the Mobile Support Team, and she has been deployed throughout the province. Deborah believes in promoting ESS and sharing knowledge, which has been evident in the Vancouver Island Emergency Preparedness Program Conferences she has attended.
Her volunteer work hasn’t just been limited to ESS. As an employee of the Greater Victoria School District, she spread the word of emergency preparedness and was instrumental in implementing five emergency kiosks at various locations. She is also a volunteer with the Canadian Red Cross, assisting with the Syrian refugee arrival response, and volunteers at Our Place.
Whether it’s training or responding, Deborah provides leadership and sets an example for volunteers in our province.
Deborah’s achievements have been made possible with the support of her husband, Rob, and two daughters, Diana and Chelsea.
Search and Rescue – Brad Sills (South West Region)
Since his arrival in Whistler in the early 1970s, Brad has volunteered most of his spare time to Whistler Search and Rescue (WSAR). His involvement and devotion to this team and the greater search and rescue (SAR) community spans over 45 years, attending and leading hundreds of SAR calls, saving lives and contributing significantly to the reduction of suffering of countless individuals in Whistler’s mountainous back country.
As with all WSAR members, Brad receives no monetary compensation and in many instances is required to step back from his responsibilities of operating a backcountry lodge to respond to a distress calls. Brad’s dedication to public safety was recognized by his local community in 2012 when he was voted Whistler’s Citizen of the Year.
You can see his deeply held passion for search and rescue in his 30‐year long search for the remains of two missing military aircraft pilots who crashed in the Callaghan Valley in 1956.
Every year, Brad organizes and leads a systematic ground search involving many of the Sea to Sky teams, hoping to bring closure to the family of the lost pilots by finding their remains. Although it’s a large search area, Brad is a patient, persistent and an effective search leader. His passion is just one of his admirable qualities as a SAR leader and deserving recipient of this award.
Radio Communications – Bernie Leaker (South West Region)
Bernie Leaker has been a volunteer with North Shore Emergency Management Emergency Radio Communications since 1998.
Bernie has served as a radio operator, exercise planner, radio station manager and volunteer deputy radio coordinator. Bernie has participated in numerous exercises and training opportunities, and provided radio communications support for several large Emergency Social Services responses and the 2005 Berkley Escarpment landslide event.
Bernie has provided first aid training free of charge to the North Shore volunteers as well as leadership roles with the North Shore amateur radio club, serving as president since 2014.
PEP Air – Al & Kathy Kasatkin (South West Region)
Kathy and Al have been active and committed volunteers with PEP Air since 2003, covering the southwest air zone from Squamish to Chilliwack. When not training or operationally deployed as spotters, they are busy behind the scenes making sure their team is well cared for and supported.
Kathy was involved with the development of the zone crewing software and since then has been instrumental to crewing search aircraft for all exercises and actual searches.
Al, not to be outdone by Kathy, has mastered the CASARA national computer system for tracking all training and operational activities.
Without their dedication, the other volunteers at the Southwest PEP Air Zone would not be able to respond with their search aircraft within that golden hour.
Road Rescue – Fernie Road Rescue (South East Region)
Fernie Fire Rescue is a composite department comprised of seven career firefighters, including a Director of Fire and Emergency Services, Fire Prevention Officer, Training Officer, two Lieutenants, and two Firefighters. The Road Rescue team is supported by 20 auxiliary firefighters, two of whom offer radio room assistance.
The team is proud to be part of Emergency Management BC and to be able to offer Road Rescue for all calls outside of their fire protection area. This service offers road rescue to tourists and visitors alike and has proven to be beneficial. They estimate that approximately 15% of their annual call volume is derived from Road Rescue. Working alongside RCMP, BC Emergency Health Services and neighbouring fire departments ensures the needs of any trapped patients or injured vehicle occupants are met in a timely, professional manner.
The team would like to thank the City of Fernie for nominating Fernie Fire Rescue and EMBC. It is a privilege to be able to represent such a dynamic group of individuals who are so passionate about their community.
Lifetime Achievement – Ron Essex (Central Region)
Ron Essex has provided continual and excellent contributions to emergency management in the Salmon Arm area since 1998. Ron is an active amateur radio, Emergency Social Services and emergency operations centre volunteer. Originally tasked to work in the call centre, Ron was quickly engaged to support the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) with emergency communications during the 1998 Silver Creek Wildfire that caused the evacuation of over 7,000 residents of Salmon Arm and the Silver Creek area of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.
Recognizing the importance of emergency communications, Ron participated in the establishment of the Shuswap Emergency Program and has been a consistent attendee at many training sessions and exercises facilitated by SEP over the last 18 years. Ron has led the installation and design of local repeaters to support emergency communications, contributed to the design of the mobile EOC and acted as logistic chief for the reception centre during the Notch Hill fire in 2003. Ron's humour and easy going outlook, adds a presence of calm to what can be stressful situations.
Ron is adept at problem solving in a very logical, methodical and quiet manner. These attributes allow him, in addition to his work with emergency management, to successfully coordinate many community events, such as the annual HAM-Fest and Field, annual Reino Keski-Salmi Loppet, Salmon Arm Fall Fair, Beat the Train Triathlon, and Bike for Life.