Eight emergency responders — ranging from police officers to firefighter personnel to EMS technicians — were honored at Cartersville Medical Center’s 2019 Heart of Service Awards on Friday.
“It’s an opportunity for us to recognize our first responders who do so much for us in the community,” said CMC CEO Chris Mosley, “in sacrificing, in working long hours and putting themselves sometimes in harm’s way.”
The hospital’s EMS/business liaison Brad Cothran served as the emcee for the ceremony.
“It started a few years back when Jan Tidwell was the EMS liaison here at the hospital,” he described the history of the awards luncheon. “She decided to come up with these awards to give out to the individuals in public safety who go above and beyond their regular, everyday duties to help in the community.”
The Rev. Willie J.E. Coombs of Greater New Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church gave the opening invocation for this year’s event.
“A service heart is directly connected to the Savior’s heart, because He was concerned for others, not just people like Him,” he said. “Because of your heart in Christ, because of your heart for others, we want to celebrate you today, saying thank you so much for all that you’ve done to help us in this community.”
Three MetroAtlanta Ambulance Service employees were recognized at the event — Ryan Barnett, Paul Lottner and Beau Witcher.
Lottner has been in the emergency medical services field for 18 years. Cothran praised him for his willingness to cover special events in the community. “That’s a lot of Saturdays, a lot of nights taken away from his own family,” Cothran said.
Barnett was recognized for his work in the yearly Shop with a Hero program. “Numerous organizations take 300 underprivileged kids in this community out shopping, who may never have a Christmas,” Cothran described the annual holiday event.
Cothran also praised Barnett for his work with the Destination Graduation: Bartow Teen Maze program, which teaches local eighth graders about the potentially dire consequences of their decisions concerning sex, alcohol and drug use. “Ryan’s been a big part of that for over, probably, four or five years now,” Cothran added.
Honoree Witcher couldn’t make it to the awards luncheon. However, MetroAtlanta Bartow County Operations Manager Brandon Duncan praised his optimism and work ethic in a prepared statement. “Beau always has a smile on his face and is willing to go the extra mile,” Duncan stated.
Like Barnett and several other Heart of Service award recipients, Witcher also participated in the last Shop With a Hero program — appearing at the event in a full Captain America costume, Duncan said he certainly made an impression on the youngsters.
“This had the children light up with excitement,” he stated. “The children lined up to get their [pictures] made.”
Megan Kincer and Hollie McKamey of the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office were also honored.
McKamey has been with the BCSO since 2002. Today, she works as a Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) officer at several schools throughout the county and is one of the leaders of the Shop with a Hero program.
Kincer, who has also been with the BCSO since 2002, is a member of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Her work, Cothran said, has helped lead to the arrest of 43 suspected online predators so far this year.
City of Cartersville Police Department Lieutenant Mike Bettikofer, who has been with the CPD since 2009, was recognized for his services as a training coordinator, instructor and public information officer. “Beyond law enforcement, he serves the community by teaching active shooter classes at local businesses, schools and churches, never failing to receive praise for his professionalism and willingness to serve,” Cothran said.
Antonio Callahan of the Cartersville Fire Department was celebrated for not only risking his life on a daily basis to help others, but his participation in the Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb and annual car show events.
The awards luncheon closed with the recognition of 38-year Bartow County Fire Department veteran Billy Ward.
“This individual serves on the training division as well as several committees,” Cothran said. “He also serves as the spirit counselor not only to his department, but deploys to serve other fire departments around the state, assisting them with post-incidents, stress debriefings and fear counseling.”
The honorees’ commitment and dedication to the local community, Cothran said, is undoubtable.
“With EMS and fire, a lot of those guys, they work 24-hour shifts,” he said. “They miss a lot of holidays with their families and children, and it’s the same thing with police officers and some of your other public servants.”
Mosley said the work of first responders is extremely important, with far-reaching implications for the hospital's services.
“Throughout the health care continuum, the hand off from one caregiver to another, things can go wrong,” he said. “So if you’ve got great teamwork like we have in Bartow County, it just makes everything more smooth, and it ends up with a better result for the patient.”