The state advocacy agent for Georgia emergency services personnel recently recognized two men from Dawson County for their dedication to the field.
Dawson County Emergency Services Chief Lanier Swafford received the 2014 GAEMS Excellence in Leadership Award during the Georgia Association of EMS awards banquet May 22 in the city of Forsyth.
The award is considered among the most prestigious presented to the members of the organization.
"I was surprised. I didn't expect it," Swafford. "I don't feel like I deserved it, but I was honored to receive the award."
In addition to serving as the county's fire chief, EMS director and deputy director of EMA, Swafford is also president of the Georgia Firefighters Association.
Billy Thurmond, director of Dawson County Emergency Services, said Swafford was a clear choice and is well deserving of the award, which is given to leaders in the field who advocate for EMS service while making a positive difference in the ways it is delivered across the state.
"In Lanier's case, it's his willingness to step up to help and enhance Georgia EMS in any way possible," Thurmond said.
Also honored at the annual meeting was Firefighter and Paramedic Andy Buffington, who received the 2014 Tim Peebles Champion of Children Excellence and Advocacy Award.
The award is given in memory of Peebles, former medical services coordinator for neighboring Hall County who died in 2010, who led an effort to get automated external defibrillators into area schools and emergency vehicles.
It's presented to a group of people or individual, who through their ideas, actions and goals, carry on and reinforce high benchmarks of care and compassion.
"Andy is and has always been willing to step up and help in anyway, especially if the cause involved helping and protecting children," Swafford said.
Buffington's personal relationship with Peebles was considered in his nomination for the award.
"When it came to EMS for children ... they were the dynamic duo," Swafford said. "Together they pumped countless hours into making kids safer. His humble and cooperative spirit along with his excellent pre-hospital skills exemplifies the life, beliefs and traits of Capt. Peebles."
Thurmond congratulated Buffington and Swafford on their awards.
"The department is proud of these two individuals and the awards they received. They work very hard, not only for the citizens here in Dawson County, but in everything they do across the state," he said.
"Their goal is to do whatever they can do in assisting and making emergency services better."