Column: Chatham Emergency Services celebrates first responders, 63 years of service

This is a commentary by Chuck Kearns, the CEO of Chatham Emergency Services

I know firsthand what a commitment it is to work as a first responder. I have served multiple communities during my 42-year career and am proud to be a part of the Chatham Emergency Services team. I have worked with various teams and boards – and I can say that our crews and community board are some of the most dedicated and service-oriented professionals and volunteers I have encountered. As Chatham Emergency Services (aka Southside Fire) begins our 63rd year of service, I believe it is important to express my personal appreciation to our team of first responders.

Chatham Emergency Services (CES) is a locally based, not-for-profit organization with a mission to provide essential EMS and Fire Services to our community.

Chatham EMS Chief Chuck Kearns radios dispatch from the porch of a West Savannah home in March while a paramedic treats the patient inside.

Chatham EMS Chief Chuck Kearns radios dispatch from the porch of a West Savannah home in March while a paramedic treats the patient inside.

In early October, the Exchange Club of Savannah presented its annual list of First Responders of the Year.



Plaques and items of appreciation were sponsored and presented by executives from Great Dane Trailers. Chatham Emergency Services team members selected for the 2023 Awards include Volunteer Firefighter of the Year Robert Bateman, Rookie Firefighter of the Year Donte Boykin, Professional Firefighter of the Year Dustin Turk, and Paramedic of the Year Lt. Ray Jennings.

The next round of awards came at the 200 Club’s Valor Awards, where two of our co-workers, Firefighter Apparatus Operator Frank Hill and Firefighter Dillon Layton, were honored for their heroic efforts. Each of them endangered their lives while trying to save the lives of multiple victims following a horrific boating collision over Memorial Day weekend in 2022.

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In November, the American Ambulance Association will honor one of our team members as a “Star of Life.” The Stars of Life Award honors the contributions of a local EMS hero who is a hard-working, model team member while shining light on the critical role EMS plays in our healthcare system. We are honored that Lt. Rosemary Mitts is receiving this distinct national recognition.

I am humbled by these many honors and greatly appreciate the numerous organizations who recognize our hard-working EMTs, paramedics and firefighters for the honorable and dangerous service they provide to our community. First responders lay their lives on the line for strangers every time we turn on the lights and sirens to respond to someone in need. Words cannot truly express how very proud I am of not only these seven individuals but of all of our first responders at Chatham Emergency Services. I am proud to stand by these amazing men and women. I consider it an honor to be a part of their team.

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Chatham County Emergency Services members are honored for valor