Receiving an award named after one of its own, the Conway Fire Department was honored this weekend for its service over the past year.
The Fire and Emergency Medical Services Society's Jon S. McMahan Service of the Year Award is bestowed upon departments that boast services that have significantly contributed to local, state and national provisions and also contribute to improving patients' pre-hospital care. Such nominees for the Fire/EMS Service of the Year award must also show exceptional first response delivery.
This award was named after Jon Scott McMahan, a former Conway firefighter who died of stomach cancer at age 45 on Feb. 17, 2009.
McMahan served the CFD for 18 years and was the division chief of special operations. He was a nationally registered paramedic for 25 years and was named National Paramedic of the Year in 2001.
The annual award is open to all departments across the state. This year, the Conway Fire Department earned the Fire/EMS (Jon S. McMahan) Service of the Year award. Conway firefighters accepted the award at the 2018 Arkansas Emergency Medical Technician Association conference held Saturday in Hot Springs.
Jerry Gipson, who is assistant chief of the EMS Division at CFD, said the award mirrors the hard work and services Conway firefighters and paramedics provide to the city's residents.
"This honor parallels our mission statement: To exceed our own expectations through the delivery of excellence in emergency response, life safety and community support," he said.
Conway firefighters also received the Fire/EMS Service of the Year award in 2009.
Continuing in making a difference through the types of services it provides, CFD now has an EMS Division that allows for firefighters to become trained paramedics. This transition was put in place to improves the city's ability to serve Conway residents.
Fire Chief Mike Winter told the Log Cabin earlier in the year that this upgrade to CFD's staff will help save lives, noting firefighters often arrive on scene before Metropolitan Emergency Medical Services (MEMS).
“This will be very beneficial to the citizens of Conway,” he said. “Most of the time, we arrive on scene prior to MEMS. With advanced care, we are hoping it [will saves lives]. To get there and be able to start advanced treatments ... hopefully [we’ll have victims] ready for MEMS to transport when they arrive.”
Conway firefighters are also equipped with Narcan units when they respond to calls for service.
Cpt. Rick Powell said CFD was one of the first fire departments in the state to equip its staff with the life-saving treatment.
Narcan is used to reverse the affects of an opioid overdose. The emergency-treatment nasal spray is used to counteract the life-threatening effects of an opioid overdose. Because most accidental overdoses occur in a home setting, it was developed for first responders, as well as family, friends and caregivers to be able to keep on hand to respond quickly in an emergency situation.
Being named the 2018 Fire/EMS Service of the Year recipient is an honor that says CFD works around the clock to continue improving and bettering its services, Powell said.
"It shows we are not sitting around. We are making a strong effort to stay proactive," he said.
Also speaking to the continued progress CFD makes to better its services, Gipson said the fire department will continue its efforts to perform quickly and efficiently to ensure safety.
"All of our firefighters work very hard to make our community better and safer on a daily basis," he said. "The Conway Fire Department has a tremendous amount of support from the city of Conway and the citizens we serve. We hold this as one of our greatest assets."