Emergency services crew and volunteers are typically unselfish, hard-working team players, Pam Fothergill emphasises.
Which was why selecting winners for an awards ceremony was so difficult, the Farmborough Heights Rural Fire Service deputy captain said.
“We work as a team – why am I better than anyone else?” she said. “Working in that team environment you don’t like to single anyone out.”
However, a team of judges will have to make such a determination this year.
On Friday the combined Rotary Clubs of the Illawarra will launch the 2013 Pride of the Illawarra Awards. The awards, now in their third year, celebrate the achievements of the region’s emergency services personnel.
While individual services have specific internal awards, these awards ensure all emergency services personnel, both paid and volunteer, are recognised in a combined awards program. The awards have officially been endorsed by all seven NSW Emergency Services organisations.
Mrs Fothergill, a member of her brigade for 35 years, won last year’s Volunteer Emergency Services Officer of the Year. The other major honour in 2012 went to Woonona’s Andrew Ryan, base manager of the Wollongong Helicopter Base (part of the Ambulance Service of NSW) at Illawarra Regional Airport. A paramedic for 32years, he was the winner of the Paid Emergency Services Officer of the Year.
Mr Ryan, 51, said it was a great honour to be recognised for the role he performed, but it was also rewarding for all of his peers right through to support personnel.
Mrs Fothergill agreed: “I don’t think you win – I think everyone wins. The whole emergency services wins as a whole.”
Mr Ryan said while the community was aware of emergency services, it often took high-profile tragedies such as the recent bushfires to fully appreciate their importance.
“They [emergency service teams] sit in the background until an event happens,” he said. “The media plays a big role in promoting the work that’s done.”
Awards committee chair Dot Hennessy said the main criterion was “service above self”.
“It’s recognising people who go over and above,” she said. “The one in, all in [attitude] never ceases to amaze me. All the services back each other up.”
The awards will be officially launched at the airport this Friday, with Minister for Police and Emergency Services Mike Gallacher in attendance. Nominations close on March 31. Winners will be announced at a gala awards night at the University Hall, Wollongong, on August 9.
Information, nominations: Call 0412120314 or look up www.prideoftheillawarra.com.au