Dawson County Emergency Services recently paid tribute to five individuals who made significant contributions to their profession and the department over the last three decades.
“We try to go back and look at people who have made significant contributions to certain areas,” said Lanier Swafford, chief of emergency services. “The last two years we focused our awards to people who aided in the fire department. This year we wanted to look back at the people who contributed to EMS.”
Ted Bearden and Larry Banister were obvious choices, the committee agreed.
During the early years, the local funeral home provided the county’s ambulance service.
“This was not due to their excellent patient care ability, but that they were the only folks who had a vehicle capable of transporting folks lying down,” Swafford said.
When the state sent out the mandate in the early 70s requiring formally trained emergency services personnel, Bearden and Banister, who worked for the local funeral home, were the first two individuals in Dawson County to receive their EMT training.
“Though the community knows these men by their compassion during times of loss, there was a time when they played a critical role in the development of EMS,” Swafford said. “They set the mark, stepped out and became first of a long line of us who followed in their footsteps receiving training to improve the quality of lives of our citizenry in time of peril.”
Also recognized during the awards ceremony was a former EMS director, one of the county’s first female fire fighters and a volunteer fireman who Swafford calls a “servant” to Dawson County.
Cecil Bennett began clocking volunteer hours when the county’s only fire station was in the city of Dawsonville.
He’s not sure when he stopped volunteering, but during his time with the department, he held several leadership positions.
That leadership continued into the community after his volunteer work with the department ended.
Bennett is a long time school board member, sat on the advisory board for Sawnee EMC for many years and is a deacon at his church.
Now as a community liaison for Wal-Mart, Bennett has helped secure thousands of dollars for various community efforts.
“This organization has been a recipient of several of those dollars, partly because of Cecil’s knowledge and appreciation for what DCES does for our community,” Swafford said.
Like Bennett, Lloyd Crane was around in the early days of the county’s emergency services, completing his EMT training in 1976.
Having served the department until 1995, Crane holds the third longest tenure in Dawson County Emergency Services. During his employment, he served as EMS director and deputy coroner.
“Tonight we recognize a mild mannered family man, who often involved his family, while sacrificing family time to help make Dawson County Emergency Services what it is today,” Swafford said.
Bea Samples was unable to attend the recognition ceremony due to her health, but Swafford said she was there in spirit as her son accepted his mom’s lifetime achievement award.
Samples moved to Dawson County in the 1970s to find limited fire protection in her area of town.
“Needing no invitation, Miss Bea stepped up quickly to the plate,” Swafford said.
A founding member of the Kilough Community Club and Fire Department, Samples completed her basic fire fighting training, along with four other women, and became one of the first firefighters in the county, at a time when women were not typically involved in the fire service.
“Although during the years she stepped away from her fire suppression duties, she faithfully served for the next 30 years as secretary and treasurer for Station 3 and spearheaded the fundraising efforts for the station,” Swafford said. “Her son told me she was tickled to be receiving the award.”