The Loudoun County Combined Fire-Rescue System recognized some of its standouts during its second annual Awards and Recognition Ceremony at the county government building Monday evening.
In a department where saving lives and rushing into burning buildings are part of the job description, the award winners during Monday’s event have heroic stories to tell—stories which often don’t get shared publicly.
“As evidenced tonight by the awards that you’ll see given, and many other ones that were given out throughout the years, it really is time to recognize our folks for what they do every day,” said System Chief Keith Johnson.
For the first time, the department this year also recognized length of service during the program rather than within individual departments. And the 13 people recognized Monday together have more than 450 years of experience.
Two have at least 50 years of service: John “Jeff” Flippo, with more than 50 years of experience, and Louis “Buzzy” Carter with more than 55.
Since joining at 14 years old in 1968, Flippo has served in roles from junior member to assistant chief and chief fire marshal. He also oversaw creation of the Hazardous Material team, the FBI-accredited Loudoun County Bomb Squad and the Fire Marshal K-9 Division. He has also led the Northern Virginia Joint Committee on Fire and Arson, the Shenandoah Valley Joint Committee on Fire and Arson, the Virginia Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators, and the Virginia State Firefighters Association, and is currently the Vice President of the Aldie Volunteer Fire Department.
Carter is the longest-serving, continuously-serving volunteer in Loudoun County, having joined the Aldie Volunteer Fire Company at the age of 16 in 1962. His family has lived in Aldie for 200 years—and there has always been a Carter serving the fire company. He also served 30 years as fire chief.
The department presented 15 awards overall to 52 people. Recipients ranged from experienced veterans like Flippo and Carter, to senior officers like Battalion Chief Daniel Neal, to quick-thinking, dedicated newcomers like probationary student Olivia Bixler. Bixler was part of a team of first responders who saved the life of a 42-year-old man who collapsed, suffering a heart attack while on a treadmill at a gym in Leesburg. The man spent 14 days in an intensive care unit, including several days in a medically-induced coma, before being released from the hospital.
For that, Bixler and other officers, EMTs, and medical director Dr. John Howard received the Lifesaving Award.
A second lifesaving award went to firefighter Timothy Gosbee, firefighter/paramedic Holly Miller, paramedic David Swartz, and EMT Evan Ricapto, who responded to a car wreck in Purcellville, finding two people, one with serious injuries including two possible amputations. The team worked to care for and extricate the victims, including clearing a landing spot for a helicopter to take one to Inova Fairfax Hospital.
Johnson presented the System Chief’s Commendation to firefighter/paramedic Tyler Moxley and firefighter/EMT John Wesley Howard, who were returning to the station when they noticed a female teen straddling the wall of a bridge over the Dulles Greenway. They stopped and found she was considering jumping, and coaxed her into a safer place, talking to her and lifting her spirits until a deputy arrived, followed by the girl’s father. This, Johnson noted, is not the sort of situation for which they were trained—but they “were instrumental in making a difference in this young lady’s life. They changed this young lady’s and her family’s life forever.”
Not every award centered on a single dramatic incident. Many others were recognized for years of dedicated service and excellence, such as the recipient of the Clark J. Deener Award, Lt. John Rice. The award recognizes an Emergency Medical Services member for their contribution to the development of Loudoun’s EMS system. The recipient of the 2017 ALC Instructor of the Year Award and the 2018 Northern Virginia Regional EMS Award for Emergency Preparedness and Response, Rice represents Loudoun on the Fire and Law Enforcement Departments of Northern Virginia Regional High Threat Committee. He has also led the department’s active shooter drills, manages the ballistic vest and Tactical Emergency Casualty Care program, and is the system’s representative to the FEMA Complex Coordinated Terrorist Attacks group and lead developer of the upcoming “Fire as a Weapon” program, which is a security awareness for soft targets and crowded places.
“We demand a lot from our people—we demand lot from our career employees, and we demand a lot from our volunteer employees—and this is a small way to say thank you,” Johnson said.
Monday’s awards will be followed up by the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce’s Valor Awards this Friday, April 12.
Award recipients included:
- Clark J. Deener Memorial Award: Lt. John Rice
- Leo C. Kelly ALS Instructor Award: Capt. Troy Gittings
- Robert W. “Hap” Arnold BLS Instructor Award: Lt. John Grant
- Hall of Fame Award: Capt. James Cromer, Master Technician Richard “Rick” Reeves, Battalion Chief Daniel Neal, Chief Rick Pearsall
- John C. Carr Jr. Memorial Award: Chief Buddy Colby, Chief Kenny Lawson
- Fire Instructor Award: Lt. Jeff Johnson
- Life Saving Award: Capt. Nicole Artisst, Firefighter/EMT Scott Adams, probationary student Olivia Bixler, Firefighter/EMT Gerald Cook, Firefighter/EMT Brady Harden, Firefighter/EMT Jason Ilowite, Lt. Ed McMichael, Dr. John Morgan, Technician Aaron Schwarzenegger, Lt. Alex Szuchinicki, Patrick Hargrove, Firefighter Timothy Gosbee, Firefighter/paramedic Holly Miller, Paramedic David Swartz, EMT Evan Ricapto
- System Recognition Award: Paramedic Michelle Beatty, Lt. Dustin George, Capt. Scott Lantz, Capt. Gregory Zalenski
- System Chief’s Commendation: Firefighter/paramedic Tyler Moxley, Firefighter/EMT John Wesley Howard
- EMS Provider of the Year: Lt. Connor Rodenbough, Lt. Christopher Grubb
- Firefighter of the Year: Firefighter Edward Jackson, Firefighter/EMT Jesse Ralston
- Civilian of the Year: Michelle Redman
- Officer of the Year: Chief William Graham, Capt. Sam Myers
- Recruitment and Retention Award: EMT Dawn McKenna
- Length of Service Awards:
- Russell Furr, 25 years
- Barbara Murphy, 25 years
- Stanley Murphy, 25 years
- Sue Williams, 25 years
- Bernard Boteler, 30 years
- Todd Wenner, 30 years
- Kevin Wright, 30 years
- Michael Carter, 35 years
- Richard Reaves, 35 years
- Thomas Williams Sr., 40 years
- Kenneth Lawson, 45 years
- John “Jeff” Flippo, 50 years
- Louis “Buzzy” Carter, 55 years