The Cherokee Nation donated almost half a million dollars this week to 131 rural volunteer fire departments and recognized several firefighters
The donations were presented at the tribe’s annual Volunteer Firefighter Ceremony at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa.
The tribe donated $3,500 to each fire station to help with equipment, fuel or other items needed to protect lives and properties of families in rural Oklahoma.
The $458,500 total donation is a record amount and is set aside in the tribe’s budget each year.
Spring Valley Fire Department in Cherokee County and Disney Fire Department in Mayes County were both recognized as 2017 Volunteer Fire Departments of the Year.
The Cherokee Nation also selected five recipients for the 2017 Volunteer Firefighter of the Year awards. They are:
-David Riggs of Muldrow for serving more than 17 years as fire chief for the Maple Fire Department. Riggs helped establish the department in 1995 and often used his own property to ensure firefighters had the equipment necessary to respond to calls. Even after stepping down as chief Riggs continues to respond to nearly every call during the day, often alone.
-Chris Hoxit of Muldrow for his commitment to the Bushy Fire Department. Hoxit established the “Ready, Set, Go” program to help the elderly be fire safe. He also obtained grants for equipment and set up a program to help raise money for the Brushy Fire Department. Hoxit also works to keep firefighters hydrated and fed while they are fighting fires, and he networks with Cherokee Nation Risk Management.
-Jim Huyck of Cookson who donates 40 to 60 hours per week between the Cookson and Chicken Creek Fire Departments. Huyck helps firefighters stay trained on emerging medical services, allowing the departments to respond to medical calls. Recently Huyck taught two extensive classes on medical response. His training allows firefighters to save the lives of others.
-Allison Paige Long of Langley was honored for saving the life of a boy involved in a head-on car crash in August. Long and her family drove upon the cash on Spavinaw Hill. She climbed into a crushed car and found a 12-year-old boy who was in the backseat and not breathing. Long, a Langley volunteer firefighter since 2010, cleared the boy’s airway, controlled his bleeding and stayed in the car until he was freed. The teen is currently paralyzed from the waist down but survived due to Long’s training and response.
-Sean Goodwin of Wagoner was honored for responding to a call with the Whitehorn Fire Department and reviving a child thought to have drowned in a lake. Goodwin relied on his training as a first responder and was able to save the child’s life.
Cherokee Principal Chief Bill John Baker said, “I believe the men and women who answer the call to be a firefighter deserve Cherokee Nation’s thanks and support. They are on call 24/7, 365 days a year, to ensure we remain safe. What they do is vital to our overall success in northeast Oklahoma. That’s why year after year the Cherokee Nation makes financial investments in rural volunteer fire departments so they can be better equipped to protect our families, our homes and our property.”
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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