Reading First Responders honored

The Reading Chamber of Commerce Monday honored Reading first responders. The recipients of the awards were (L-R) Dispatcher Debbie Haynes, Police Officer Michael Fitzgerald and Firefighter John Keough. 

READING — The Reading and North Reading Chamber of Commerce Monday honored First Responders in a ceremony at the Reading Library.

The occasion was marked by the naming of the Police Officer, Firefighter, and Public Safety Dispatcher of the year as selected by their departments.

The honored Reading public safety workers were Firefighter John Keough, Police Detective Michael Fitzgerald and dispatcher Debbie Haynes.

Present at the event were Police & Fire Depts, a few elected officials. Chamber Board and families of the Officer, Firefighter and Dispatcher of the Year.

In the past the Chamber would recognize Police and Fire fighters of the year at their Annual Meeting. This year they decided to do it at a breakfast meeting on National First Responders Day, which was Monday, Oct. 28.

The ceremony began with a welcome by Reading-North Reading Chamber of Commerce President Francine Coughlin and Chamber Executive Director Lisa Egan.

Remarks for the occasion were offered by Reading Town Manager Bob LeLacheur and Select Board member John Halsey.

State Representative Brad Jones also presented the honorees with a citation from the State House.

Fire Chief Gregory Burns then recognized Firefighter John Keough and Deputy Police Chief David Clark spoke about Michael Fitzgerald.

They both spoke about the contributions of Public Safety Dispatcher Debbie Haynes.

The dispatchers, located at the Police Station are the link between the Reading residents and the timely professional response to reported calls for assistance by the Police and Fire Departments.

The remarks during the award presentations appear below.

Firefighter of the Year

Remarks by Fire Chief Greg Burns

Thank you, to the Reading North Reading Chamber and Lisa Eagan

Congratulations to other honorees Dispatcher Debbie Haynes and Detective Michael Fitzgerald.

This is a great event for the community and an opportunity for the residents of Reading to learn how personnel in public safety contribute to the community on a regular basis.

Selection Process

Today, I would like to introduce to you, the Reading Fire Department’s Firefighter of the year for 2019, Firefighter John Keough. John has been a Reading Firefighter for seven years.

John was chosen by a majority vote of all Department members. Each Department member was given a ballot that asked for one nominee to be selected that represents the best of the Reading Fire Department and the best Fire Service in general and to include a reason why they chose their particular candidate.

As a result of this process John was overwhelmingly chosen for this honor. Throughout his career, John has responded to a number of significant fires, medical emergencies and hazardous materials incidents. His performance at one or more of these incidents certainly could have been cited as the reason for his selection. However, repeatedly during the selection process, Reading Firefighters noted John’s consistent dedication and commitment to the Reading Fire Department and the way he continually contributes in moving the Department forward.

John was cited for his skills in providing EMS Training, the depth of his medical knowledge and skills, his ability to positively motivate others, his kindness, his leadership ability and the time and effort he puts in training new Firefighters on every aspect of the job.

In addition to his Firefighting duties, John is also the Department’s Emergency Medical Services Liaison. Among his regular firefighting duties he is also responsible for EMS Training of all Department members and purchasing and stocking medications. We all know John is one of the main reasons why our system is able to deliver such high quality care.

Some highlights some of John’s background include:

• John graduated the Northeastern University’s Paramedic program in 1995.

• He began his career as a Firefighter for the Town of Westford in 2010.

• He began his career with the Reading Fire Department on July 30, 2012

• He is a graduate of the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy

• He graduated the University of Massachusetts Lowell with a Bachelor in Science, Business Administration.

• He graduated the Anna Maria College with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with a specialization in Fire and Emergency Services

In addition to working for the Reading Fire Department, John has worked as a paramedic in busy EMS systems such as Lawrence General Hospital. Paramedics who work in these high volume systems have an opportunity to develop and expand their knowledge base and this improves the patient care they are able to deliver. John’s experience in the Lawrence area and other EMS systems is one of the factors that enabled him to develop and become an outstanding paramedic. Every day john shares this wealth of knowledge, skills and experience with Reading Firefighters.

John always gives of his time to others. He is a member of the Westford Pipes and Drums and has played the bag pipes in Reading a number of times at our badge pinning and other ceremonies.

For the seven years I have had the pleasure of working with John, I have always seen him with a big smile and boundless enthusiasm for what needs to be done. This enthusiasm always spreads to those who are around him. He is also highly intelligent, highly trained, very dedicated to his profession, a natural leader and fun to be around.

For everything that you do, I would like to say thank you!

Remarks by Fire Chief Greg Burns

Thank you, to the Reading North Reading Chamber and Lisa Eagan

Congratulations to other honorees Dispatcher Debbie Haynes and Detective Michael Fitzgerald.

This is a great event for the community and an opportunity for the residents of Reading to learn how personnel in public safety contribute to the community on a regular basis.

Selection Process

Today, I would like to introduce to you, the Reading Fire Department’s Firefighter of the year for 2019, Firefighter John Keough. John has been a Reading Firefighter for 7 years.

John was chosen by a majority vote of all Department members. Each Department member was given a ballot that asked for one nominee to be selected that represents the best of the Reading Fire Department and the best Fire Service in general and to include a reason why they chose their particular candidate.

As a result of this process John was overwhelmingly chosen for this honor. Throughout his career, John has responded to a number of significant fires, medical emergencies and hazardous materials incidents. His performance at one or more of these incidents certainly could have been cited as the reason for his selection. However, repeatedly during the selection process, Reading Firefighters noted John’s consistent dedication and commitment to the Reading Fire Department and the way he continually contributes in moving the Department forward.

John was cited for his skills in providing EMS Training, the depth of his medical knowledge and skills, his ability to positively motivate others, his kindness, his leadership ability and the time and effort he puts in training new Firefighters on every aspect of the job.

In addition to his Firefighting duties, John is also the Department’s Emergency Medical Services Liaison. Among his regular firefighting duties he is also responsible for EMS Training of all Department members and purchasing and stocking medications. We all know John is one of the main reasons why our system is able to deliver such high quality care.

Some highlights some of John’s background include:

• John graduated the Northeastern University’s Paramedic program in 1995.

• He began his career as a Firefighter for the Town of Westford in 2010.

• He began his career with the Reading Fire Department on July 30, 2012

• He is a graduate of the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy

• He graduated the University of Massachusetts Lowell with a Bachelor in Science, Business Administration.

• He graduated the Anna Maria College with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with a specialization in Fire and Emergency Services

In addition to working for the Reading Fire Department, John has worked as a paramedic in busy EMS systems such as Lawrence General Hospital. Paramedics who work in these high volume systems have an opportunity to develop and expand their knowledge base and this improves the patient care they are able to deliver. John’s experience in the Lawrence area and other EMS systems is one of the factors that enabled him to develop and become an outstanding paramedic. Every day john shares this wealth of knowledge, skills and experience with Reading Firefighters.

John always gives of his time to others. He is a member of the Westford Pipes and Drums and has played the bag pipes in Reading a number of times at our badge pinning and other ceremonies.

For the 7 years I have had the pleasure of working with John, I have always seen him with a big smile and boundless enthusiasm for what needs to be done. This enthusiasm always spreads to those who are around him. He is also highly intelligent, highly trained, very dedicated to his profession, a natural leader and fun to be around.

For everything that you do, I would like to say thank you!

Police Officer of the Year

Remarks by Deputy Chief David Clark

I would like to thank the Reading/North Reading Chamber of Commerce for hosting this event. Far too often we do not take the time to recognize our officers for the outstanding work that they do daily. That’s what makes day like today so important.

Singling out an individual officer for this award with so many deserving was not easy. However one officer did stand out and that is Det. Michael Fitzgerald.

On May 24, 2018, Det. Fitzgerald responded to a report of a suicidal male armed with a knife. Upon arrival Det. Fitzgerald found this male on the top floor of an apartment building standing on the window sill. Det. Fitzgerald was able to convince the man to drop and his knife and for the next 3 and a ½ hours talked to this man trying to convince him to come off of the window sill and come inside.

After 3.5 hours the male’s head slumped forward and he leaned out of the window even more at this point Det. Fitzgerald immediately jumped into action. Without thinking of his own safety, Det. Fitzgerald grabbed hold of the man stopping him from falling out of the window and escaping serious injury or possible death. Other Police and Fire Personnel on scene were able to help pull the male back inside to safety.

Det. Fitzgerald displayed great patience and bravery during this during this call and brought great credit upon himself, the Reading Police Department and the Town of Reading.

Please join me in honoring Det. Michael Fitzgerald as the 2018-2019 Officer of the Year.

Dispatcher of the Year

Remarks offered by Police Deputy Chief David Clark

I would like to once again thank the Reading/North Reading Chamber for hosting this event. The Town of Reading Public Safety Dispatchers do not get nearly enough recognition for their hard work and dedication to the Town and Chief Burns and I strongly felt that this needed to be corrected.

This year we are happy to announce that Dispatcher Deb Haynes has been chosen as the 2018-2019 Public Safety Dispatcher of the year. Nominations came in from both Police and Fire agencies and after Chief Burns and I reviewed the nominations once name kept coming up. Dispatcher Haynes from both agencies perspectives has been a consistent professional throughout the years over a wide variety of calls. Not only has Dispatcher Haynes been a solid dispatcher, she also is a certified RAD instructor and has taught many classes. Dispatcher Haynes is also a Communications Training Officer otherwise known as a CTO and trains new hires on the complex job of being a Dispatcher.

The Reading Police and Fire Departments are proud to honor Dispatcher Deb Haynes.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.