First responders of all stripes honored in Washington County for heroism, dedication

28 May 2024- Local heroes in Hagerstown and Washington County have been named as recipients of the 8th Annual Public Safety Awards. First responders will be recognized at a breakfast awards ceremony hosted by the Washington County Chamber of Commerce. Award recipients include first responders and volunteers in fire, law enforcement, emergency telecommunications, and EMS departments.

“The Washington County Chamber of Commerce is proud and honored to recognize the brave efforts of our public safety and health care professionals,” says Chamber President and CEO Paul Frey.  “Every day these professionals go above and beyond the call of duty to protect the lives of our citizens and the property of our homes and businesses. It is a pleasure to be able to publicly give them our sincere thanks and gratitude for all that they do on the behalf of others, often without public recognition.”

There are three levels of Medal of Valor Awards: gold, silver, and bronze. The goldaward recognizes an act of bravery involving extreme personal risk that is clearly above and beyond the call of duty, or an incident of valor that results in serious injury or death.The silver award recognizes acts of bravery involving great personal risk beyond the call of duty.The bronze award recognizes acts of bravery involving unusual personal risk beyond expectation while performing the usual responsibilities of the job. Bronze-level recognition may also be awarded to a responder who demonstrates unusual judgement, zeal, or ingenuity during an emergency situation when such an act is beyond that normally expected in the line of duty.

This year’s recipient of the Gold Medal of Valor Award is Master Police Officer Cory Biden of Hagerstown Police Department, honored for preventing a suicide attempt in oncoming traffic, in July of 2023.

The recipient of the Silver Medal of Valor Award is Deputy Nikolas McKoy of Washington County Sheriff’s Office, honored for preventing a suicide attempt involving arson and explosives, in September of 2023.

Paramedic Zachary Culler of Community Rescue Service and Officer Spencer Nigh of Hagerstown Police Department are receiving the Bronze Medal of Valor Award for their quick actions treating an assault victim, which involved scaling a ten-foot metal gate, in June of 2023.

Firefighter Liam Harbert, Firefighter Joshua Merani, and Fire Apparatus Operator Charles Mundey of Hagerstown Fire Department are receiving the Bronze Medal of Valor Award for successfully rescuing an unconscious woman from an apartment fire in August of 2023.

The Hero Award honors an individual or team whose actions attempted to save or succeeded in saving a human life. Recipients demonstrate strong knowledge of medical and rescue efforts, quick action, and a commitment to service on and off duty.

Officer First Class Mark Morris of Hagerstown Police Department is receiving the Hero Award for his quick action to treat and save a man with self-inflicted gunshot wounds in November of 2023.

Deputy Sara Sutton of Washington County Sheriff’s Office is receiving the Hero Award for her life-saving actions creating a makeshift arm tourniquet and providing CPR for a man in an ATV accident, in May of 2023.

Captain William Ball, III, Firefighter Benjamin Gozora, Fire Apparatus Operator Rodney Guessford, EMT Stacy Lakin, Paramedic Jeremy Mackrell, and Firefighter Jeremy Smiley of Williamsport Volunteer Fire – EMS, Inc., and Captain Joshua Eisenhower of the Washington County Division of Emergency Services are receiving the Hero Award for their life-saving response to a cardiac arrest patient in January of 2023.

The Unit Achievement Award is awarded to any bureau, division, section, unit, or squad exhibiting extraordinary performance and attention to duty, and for an outstanding contribution to the department or to the welfare of our citizens.

Trooper First Class Matthew Doyle, Trooper First Class Derek Harper, Sergeant Richard Kulina, Trooper First Class Zachary O’Neal, and Trooper First Class Joshua Socks of the Maryland State Police are receiving the Unit Achievement Award for superior performance as a team and playing an active role in the community.

6 different companies responded to a fatal crash on I-81 in September of 2023, involving four tractor trailers, one passenger vehicle, and one pick-up truck, and there are 38 first responders receiving the Unit Achievement Award. The first responders operated efficiently as a team to locate and extricate victims. The award recipients include:

  • Jeffrey Paules, Artie Raines, Deputy Chief Phil Ridenour, Fire Apparatus Operator Jeremy Smiley, and Firefighter Daniel Taylor of Maugansville Goodwill Volunteer Fire Co., Inc. Engine 13-1
  • Jack Blair, Brandon Frazier, Chief Mark Miller, Firefighter Matt Munson, and Fire Apparatus Operator Tommy Palmer of Maugansville Goodwill Volunteer Fire Co., Inc. Rescue Squad 13
  • Thomas Bricker, Michael McAtee, Donald McAtee, and Payton Timmons of Rescue Hose Company #1, Engine 3-1 out of Greencastle
  • Brian Barkdoll, Doug Bitner, Joshua Hulebak, and Tyler Myers of Rescue Hose Company #1, Rescue Squad 3 out of Greencastle
  • Amber Beam and Matthew Brown of Rescue Hose Company #1, Ambulance 3-9 out of Greencastle
  • Mark Mentzer, Franklin County Medic 23-31
  • Sergeant Rob DePartee and Firefighter Rob Flint of Longmeadow Volunteer Fire Company, Engine 27-1
  • Firefighter Bill Haines, Deputy Chief Adam Hopkins, Fire Apparatus Operator Kirk Mongan, and Firefighter Zack Thomas of Longmeadow Volunteer Fire Company, Rescue Engine 27-2
  • Firefighter Jimmie Lobley and Driver Quentin Tosten of Longmeadow Volunteer Fire Company, Brush 27
  • Chief Donnie Bingaman, Firefighter Ben Gozora, Fire Apparatus Operator Steve Hurst, and Captain Levi Taylor of Williamsport Volunteer Fire and EMS Co., Rescue Engine 2
  • Captain Joanna Bingaman, Paramedic Kevin Demmons, EMT Seth Granville, Paramedic Ashley Hess, and Paramedic Adam Hess of Community Rescue Service

Telecommunications professionals of the Washington County Department of Emergency Communications, including Emergency Communication Specialist III – Dispatcher Derek Bish, ECS I Donna Burcker, ECS II – Dispatcher Ethan Grim, Supervisor David Litten, ECS II – Dispatcher Rachel Miller, ECS III – Dispatcher Todd Nesbitt, ECS Amanda Wagner, and ECS III – Dispatcher Mason White are receiving the Unit Achievement Award for their swift, precise, and professional response to the 9-1-1 call reporting the shooting of a Washington County Circuit Court Judge in October of 2023. 

The Telecommunications Award is given to an individual who has demonstrated an exceptional contribution to the improved delivery of emergency medical, fire and law enforcement services to the citizens and visitors of Washington County through their outstanding dedication and service.

Emergency Dispatcher Diane Rosenthal of the Maryland State Police Emergency Dispatch is receiving the Telecommunications Award for continuously demonstrating professionalism and dedication to her role. She helps Troopers and also other agencies, and she excels at her job in strenuous situations. She plays an active role in the community and completes trainings to further her skills.

The Distinguished Service Award is presented to a responder who is distinguished from all others of their rank or position. He or she performs above expectation, demonstrates responsibility, and initiated a credible accomplishment in the previous year.

Trooper First Class Matthew Doyle of the Maryland State Police is receivingthe Distinguished Service Award for demonstrating tenacity and a vigorous work ethic, with a passion for public service. He carries a strong conviction for doing what is right, a compassionate disposition toward victims, and a desire to continually improve himself.

The Community Service Award is presented to an individual, group or organization who has worked to better the lives of those in Washington County, either inside or outside of normal job duties, or has performed a single outstanding prevention.

Master Deputy Gerardo Cerda of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office is receiving the Community Service Award, for providing continuous service to Washington County citizens. He graciously provides support for our Spanish-speaking residents and volunteers with the Boys and Girls Club of Washington County. He also assists with law enforcement training at Washington County Technical High School and the Washington County Public Safety Training Center.

The Volunteer Achievement Award is presented for volunteer dedication and initiative above and beyond the call of duty over a period of time that has affected and benefited the citizens of Washington County and beyond.

Robyn Ford is receiving the Volunteer Achievement Award for her excellent volunteer contributions to Boonsboro Ambulance & Rescue Service, providing innovative ideas to help raise funds, and ensuring the successful coordination of popular fundraising events.

President Nolan “Jay” Brandenburg of Sharpsburg Volunteer Fire Company is receiving the Volunteer Achievement Award for 30 years of volunteer service in Washington County. He has been instrumental in securing over $15 million in grants for Washington County Fire and Rescue Departments.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is given to an individual who encompasses leadership and an exceptional work ethic. He or she has consistently performed above and beyond normal expectation throughout their career.

President Mary Jane “MJ” Blickenstaff of Boonsboro Ambulance & Rescue Service, Inc. is receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award in honor of her dedicated volunteering service for more than 40 years. She has left a positive impact on local residents, and she has been involved with every aspect of the day-to-day activities of the company, from fundraising efforts to renovations and improvements.

Major Mark Knight of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office is receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing his 39 years of service to Washington County. During his career, Major Knight worked his way through the ranks and led detectives in the Criminal Investigation Unit. Major Knight demonstrated strong leadership of the award-winning Washington County Special Response Team and received several personal awards and accolades as well. Major Knight has left a positive impact on Washington County.

Washington County’s 8th Annual Public Safety Awards will be held at Community Volunteer Fire Co. of District 12’s Banquet Facility, at 18002 Tilghmanton Road, Fairplay, MD 21733, on Thursday, June 6th, 2024 at 7:00 am. Registration details are available at Hagerstown.org on the Chamber Events Calendar.

The Chamber would like to thank the sponsors of this event: Antietam Broadband, Hagerstown Magazine, Potomac Edison, Keystone Public Safety, Berman, Sobin & Gross, LLP, Streamline IT Solutions, AC&T Co., Blue Ridge Risk Partners, Complete Document Solutions, Douglas A. Fiery Funeral Home, and Vocal Expressions.