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Emergency services promotes ‘next generation of leaders’

POSTED: February 11, 2009 4:00 a.m.
Photo/Michele Hester/

From left, Milton Keller, Benji Ensley and Robby Lee were promoted to serve as the county's first battalion chiefs in January, which set the stage for the most recent captain and lieutenant promotions within the department.

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Dawson County Emergency Services made history last week by promoting 15 employees to supervisory positions.


“This is a big step for Dawson County Emergency Services. This is a historic night,” Billy Thurmond, director of emergency services, gleamed last Wednesday night as he recognized those employees who excelled in the department’s recent promotional exercises.


Family and friends joined in the celebration at Rock Creek Sports Complex to watch as each vowed to serve Dawson County and its residents.


Chief of Emergency Services Lanier Swafford reflected on years passed “when a day such as this could not have been thought of.”


“You all have so much to be proud of,” he said.


The promotions followed an intensive evaluation period and evolved with the growth of the department and a rise in emergency responses, Swafford said.


The evaluations included written exams, an interview with a panel of outside emergency services personnel and scenario-based testing that simulated responses and actions.


Benji Ensley, Milton Keller and Robby Lee were promoted to serve as the county’s first battalion chiefs in January, which set the stage for the most recent captain and lieutenant promotions within the department.


“Becoming one of Dawson County’s first battalion chiefs is indeed an honor,” Lee said. “I look forward to assisting with the continued professional growth of the department in one of the state’s fastest growing counties.”


Dawson County Manager Kevin Tanner, who served as a volunteer firefighter early in his career and was asked to address the group as keynote speaker, said,


“This department was built on the backbones of the men and women who have gone before us,” he said.


Tanner said the passion has always been apparent, even in times when the department did not have the true support if board of commissioners, like it does today. “We’ve moved forward over the years,” he said.


Several commissioners attended the event and offered praise to the men accepting the new leadership roles. “It’s those folks that take care of us. All the things we do and how we do what we do is a reflection of our entire county,” said commission chair Mike Berg. “I’m so pleased to be a part of this ceremony tonight.”


Each new battalion chief, captain and lieutenant received a new helmet and pins identifying their new leadership roles.


“I want to say how proud I am with the emergency services department and their recent promotions. They’ve promoted some very dedicated and qualified individuals into these important positions,” Tanner said. “I also am pleased they were able to accomplish this within the tight constraints of their 2009 budget and no additional dollars were necessary.”


“These are the next generation of leaders of Dawson County Emergency Services,” Tanner said.


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