Pilot brings fireman home, honored

By Roy J. Eaton | Published Wednesday, January 13, 2016
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A Big Thanks

A BIG THANKS – Andy Wood, a Decatur firefighter/paramedic, helped present pilot Fabio LaBrada with a Community Service Award at the Decatur Fire Department’s annual banquet Saturday. When Wood was injured in a riding accident in San Antonio, LaBrada, a pilot who operates Raquel’s Wings for Life, flew him back home. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

When an off-duty Decatur firefighter was injured in an accident in San Antonio, wheels back home were set in motion to bring him back to Wise County quickly.

Firefighter/Paramedic Andy Wood and his wife, Valerie, had gone to San Antonio to look at a horse when the horse spooked and threw Wood. He was taken to a San Antonio area hospital, treated and released.

“I’ve been a paramedic for more years than I care to remember, and I just knew his injuries were more severe than the hospital there thought,” Fire Chief Mike Richardson said at the department’s annual honors banquet Saturday.

Richardson and Deputy Chief Deroy Bennett got to work to get Wood and his wife back to Decatur. That’s where relationships with the San Marcos Fire Department and Decatur pilot Fabio LaBrada paid off quickly.

“The San Marcos fire chief and one of his firefighters went to San Antonio and picked up Andy and his wife and drove their truck back to San Marcos where Fabio and Decatur firefighter Brandon Myers met them at the San Marcos airport.

While Myers drove Wood’s truck back to Wise County, LaBrada, who operates Raquel’s Wings for Life, flew Andy and Valerie back to the Decatur Airport where a Decatur engine company met the plane.

In appreciation of LaBrada’s efforts, Richardson presented the department’s Community Service Award to him at the annual banquet. Wood, who recently returned to work, helped Richardson present the award.

Men of Honor

MEN OF HONOR – Joe Boyd, Dennis Bailey, Kris Anderson, Jonathan Guerrero and Captain Nate Mara were honored at Decatur Fire Department’s annual banquet Saturday. Boyd received EMS Responder of the Year. Bailey was named Rookie of the Year, Anderson earned Fireman of the Year, Guerrero received the Customer Service Award and Mara was named Fire Officer of the Year. Submitted photo

Kris Anderson was presented the department’s “Fireman of the Year” award at the banquet attended by more than 200 people at the Central Fire Station. State Master Firefighter Certifications were presented to Richardson and Captains Nate Mara and Cliff Oates.

Other awards included Rookie of the Year to Dennis Bailey, EMS Responder of the Year Joe Boyd, Fire Officer of the Year Captain Nate Mara and Customer Service Award to Jonathan Guerrero.

Decatur has a combination paid and volunteer department of 43 members. Top volunteer hours awards went to Evan Davis, Brandon Myers and Paul Hensley. The top training hours award was presented to Myers.

Mara, who heads the department’s training division, said firefighters spent 6,774 hours in training last year.

Richardson said the department answered 1,526 calls in 2015, more than 60 percent of them medical calls. The department has six fire apparatus.

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