MOUNT VERNON — Four new employees and a new fire truck highlighted the year for the Mount Vernon Fire Department.
The department was able to add a person to each crew as a result of the 0.5 percent income tax increase approved in 2017. The fourth new employee replaced one who resigned.
The new personnel are Nicholas Light, Caleb Haught, Kyle Campbell and Brandon May.
John Lester received the 2018 Firefighter of the Year Award, while Erick Fisher, Nick Kidd and Brandon May received the Unit Commendation Ribbon for EMS for their outstanding work on Oct. 30 when they responded to a motorcycle accident and were able to save the patient’s life.
The new fire truck arrived in December. It is a Rosenbauer mid-mount ladder truck with a 75-foot ladder. It replaces a 1992 ladder truck and will be better able to maneuver through the community than the old truck.
The department, along with Fredericktown EMA, Knox County Sheriff’s Office and Fredericktown Police Department were leaders in developing, training and implementing a Rescue Task Force.
Total number of runs declined slightly in 2018, with the department answering 5,320 calls, just short of the record 5,367 set in 2017. Of the total, 4,150 were EMS calls 1,170 were fire calls. The busiest month was July, with 524 fire and EMS runs.
Of the total EMA runs, 3,398 were billable transports and the department collected more than $850,000 from EMS billings, an average of $260 per transport.
A new fitness program was implemented in which each spring personnel undergo a physical assessment which consists of a seven-circuit course that incorporates several firefighting functions and must be completed in 17 minutes.
All personnel passed the assessment this year.
The department added as chaplain Marvin Haught, pastor of Brandon Baptist Church and a volunteer firefighter for Homer Fire Department. He also serves on the Board of Public Safety with the Knox County Career Center Adult Education, is a member of the Mount Vernon Association of Police Chaplains and is a member of the Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Team.
Trevor Williams was promoted to shift captain on July 1 and Josh Lester was promoted to lieutenant on July 31 and serves as EMS Coordinator Lieutenant.
Grants and community support provided valuable equipment for the department. A Bureau of Worker’s Compensation Safety Grant provided $10,000 for an industrial strength washing machine used to clean fire gear after a fire or a hazardous environment situation.
Baldwin Shrine Club purchased a Pedi-Mate Plus and a Neo-Mate Plus restraint system for one of the medics, giving them the ability to properly transport children less than 10 pounds and children from 10 to 100 pounds in the squad. The Shriners also purchased a thermal image camera, which allows firefighters to see heat signatures through non-visible environments such as smoke during search and rescue incidents.
The third annual Rastin Challenge was another success, with Mount Vernon teams taking second in both events and Jared McCann setting a record in the tower climb by making it to the top in full fire gear in 54 seconds.
Mike Davis received the first $500 scholarship.