By MYRA THRIFT Staff Writer
They give their all to keep their family, friends and communities safe from those that would bring harm or danger to their loved ones.
At the sound of an alarm, these courageous men and women are out and gone, headed to handle whatever situation arises.
They are the unsung heroes.
During the Waycross Exchange Club’s annual Public Safety Banquet held Thursday night, a handful of these brave heroes were recognized with awards from their various departments.
Waycross Police Major Chris Tatum served as master of ceremonies and handed out the awards with assistance from club president Michael Ray.
Receiving accolades were Perry Blackburn, EMS coordinator and office manager, named “Paramedic of the Year;” Ware County Deputy Brian Newman was named the Ware County Sheriff’s Department “Public Safety Officer of the Year;” Andrew McCarthy was named the Ware County Fire Department’s “Firefighter of the Year;” 911 Operator Christopher Campbell was presented as the “Communications Officer of the Year;” Lt. Kyle Daniell was presented the Waycross Fire Department’s “Firefighter of the Year” honor; Sgt. Martin J. Davis was named the Waycross Police Department’s “Public Safety Officer of the Year;” Johnny Johnston was recognized as the Ware County “Volunteer Firefighter of the Year.”
Each of the recipients thanked the club, the people of Ware County and Waycross and their supervisors for selecting them for the honor. Each one said he was “humbled and honored” to be selected to receive the award.
•Blackburn has worked, without interruption, at Ware EMS for 39 years and rising, and already has set a record for years of service.
“No one knows the operations of EMS like Perry,” said EMS director Dr. Bill Parham. “He is an encyclopedia of knowledge and can answer any question that arises. His contacts in the county and beyond are unbelievable. He can find the person or service that I need immediately and without failing. Everyone, that knows him, fully expects a cheerful attitude and that famous laugh that he will give you on every phone call. Each call he takes, the person on the other end will feel like they called an old friend and indeed they did.
“Perry is a friend and I have known him for the entire 39 years that he has served the county. He is kind, always cheerful and does his job with joy and rare complaints. I have told him, more than once, that he truly reflects Christ in all his actions, as much as anyone that I have ever met,” Parham said. “Perry’s service to Ware County reflects honor upon himself and the progress of EMS.”
•Newman, a native of Pennsylvania, moved to Pierce County where he graduated high school. In 1999, Newman began his career in law enforcement as a correctional officer at a private correctional facility in Nicholls. In 2008, Newman became a sworn deputy for the Ware County Sheriff’s Office. He was later appointed to directly oversee those on Ware County’s Sex Offender Registry after Sheriff Randy F. Royal assumed office in his first term.
“Deputy Newman is conscientious and meticulous in his supervision of those on the sex offender registry, ensuring that those individuals comply with all the restrictions and terms of the registry,” said Royal.
In 2016 alone, Newman arrested nine sex felony offenders who are charged with failing to comply with the terms. One such sex offender absconded, but due to Newman’s quick action he was quickly found across the country in the state of Michigan. Newman has personally overseen approximately 100 Ware County sex offenders during 2016.
In addition, Newman also directly supported Operation Watchful Eye, which was created to coordinate efforts involving all sheriffs’ offices across the state conducting residence verifications and compliance checks of registered sex offenders during a specific time frame.
“The success in Ware County would not have been as proficient without the ambitious approach of Deputy Newman,” said Royal.
“There is no one who takes their assigned job duties more seriously than Deputy Brian Newman,” said Royal. “His dedication and his professionalism are a great credit to himself, his family, and the Ware County Sheriff’s Office.”
•Daniell began his career with the Waycross Fire Department in July 2011 as a recruit firefighter. He received his Georgia Firefighter Certification prior to becoming part of the Waycross Fire Department having been a volunteer as well as a part time firefighter with the Ware County Fire Department, wrote Chief David Eddins.
Lt. Daniell quickly established himself as a hardworking firefighter on the scenes of emergencies as well as around the fire station. Under the direction of his company officer Lt. Daniell was very aggressive when firefighting and always worked quickly to mitigate any situation he was presented. Lt. Daniell continued to further his development by attending advanced training through GPSTC as well as training offered within the department.
In February 2014, Lt. Daniell was promoted to apparatus operator and was given to responsibility for operating a fire department pumper, including driving on emergency calls as well as pumping the apparatus at fire scenes, training for this job included learning and becoming proficient in hydraulic calculations, water flow from hydrants, as well as learning to maintain all the equipment that is on each apparatus including small engines and pumps such as the Jaws of Life.
Lt. Daniell, while continuing to meet the fire department and state training requirements accepted another challenge and was accepted as an original member of the Georgia Search and Rescue (GSAR) Task Force 8, this is a specialized rescue team that can deployed throughout the state, receiving more than 400 hours of initial GSAR Training and has also received advanced training, including training with other GSAR Teams and military rescue teams.
“It is because of Lt. Daniell’s eagerness to learn and receive advanced training as well as helping train other firefighters that I am proud to nominate Lt. Kyle Daniell for Firefighter of the Year for the Waycross Fire Department,” Eddins wrote.
•Davis, a 2005 graduate of the Glynn Academy High School in Brunswick, began his career with the Waycross Police Department Sept. 8, 2010.
Davis attended the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (G.P.S.T.C.) Regional Academy in Tifton from which he graduated March 18, 2011 with his Georgia Peace Officer certification.
“It quickly became evident that Officer Davis was a valuable asset to the community in which he served,” wrote Chief Tony Tanner. “He not only knew many of the citizens in the area but he was also well known, well liked and appreciated in the community. He displays a quiet, but professional attitude in his daily job duties with both coworkers and the citizens that he serves. One might say, ‘He lets his actions speak louder than his words’.”
“The hard work and dedication to his job and community along with his efforts to expand his knowledge and training were rewarded on Sept. 26, 2014 when he was promoted to the rank of sergeant.
Sgt. Davis himself is credited with making more than 305 drug related arrests along with an additional 17 firearm related charges. Sgt. Davis gives freely of his time volunteering for community events, especially working Kid’s Fun Day, the fall and spring sessions of Okefenokee Kid’s Camp Senior Safety Day and many others.
“He is an exceptional law enforcement professional who gives his best day in and day out to the citizens of this community,” said Tanner. “He’s an individual that children can look up to and say one day I want to be like him.”
•Campbell began his career with Ware County 911 March 7, 2015. Although his employment with Ware County has been for a short time, he came to Ware County with a wealth of experience from previous law enforcement agencies, wrote 911 director Fay Cooper.
“Early in January 2016, Campbell received a 911 call from a subject saying that he had shot himself. Campbell ascertained the required information necessary to coordinate and dispatch the appropriate responding units were dispatched. Campbell remained on the phone with the caller gathering pertinent information such as: the type of gun and if the shot was intentional or accidental and the location of the gun.
“Operator Campbell remained calm throughout the call therefore keeping the caller as calm as possible. Campbell administered Emergency Medical Dispatch protocol to control the bleeding until help arrived. Operator Campbell continued talking to the caller to keep him alert and from further harming himself.
“He continued to assure the caller that help had been dispatched. He then engaged in counseling strategies with the caller, conversing with him about his grandchildren and football to take the callers mind off of the pain and his current situation. While talking to the caller, Campbell assured the caller that he was not judging him and was there to help him.
“During the course of the course of the phone call, Operator Campbell’s coworkers were assisting with making phone calls to family members etc. Operator Campbell was able to give his undivided attention to the caller until emergency personnel arrived,” said Cooper.
It is calls of this nature that gives our department and the agencies that we serve a sense of pride to have employees of Campbell’s caliber. He’s skillful, professional, he pays attention to details, but most of all he is compassionate and understanding.”
Campbell is a member of Grace Chapel and he serves as singer/musician for the ministries. He’s also the father of a beautiful daughter, Chelsea Campbell.
•McCarthy always had dreams of being a firefighter while growing up and his dream came true in April 2010 when he began working with Ware County Fire-Rescue. He began volunteering in 2009.
Lt. McCarthy graduated from WCHS in 2007 and attended Waycross College. He attended the GPSTC and received his Firefighter I certification in 2010, an intense course that takes several weeks to complete.
He has also taken the Search and Rescue courses that enable him to be a part of the GSAR Team which responds throughout the state to assist with disasters and other emergencies.
He is also a certified EMT which enables him to provide advanced medical care to citizens when needed. He was promoted to lieutenant in 2016 for his hard work, efforts and commitment to serve the community and his department.
•Johnston is one of those rare people who volunteers to fight fires, respond to accidents, fires and other emergencies just because he loves the action. He was unable to be present Thursday because of a death in his family. His award was accepted on his behalf by Capt. David Thrift of the Ware County Fire Department.