William 'Gramps' Gillette was awarded the ALS provider of the year award on Friday night.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — In 1975, William "Gramps" Gillette found himself coming to the aid of firefighters trying to reach his neighbor's burning house.
The fire truck had gotten stuck on a steep incline and Gillette jumped in to show the crew how to get it out. What he didn't know at that moment was that his actions would be the start of a long career in fire and emergency medical services.
Firefighters talked Gillette into joining the New Marlborough Fire Department. Ten years after that, intrigued by the patient care side of the job, he earned his emergency medical technician certification and began volunteering for the Southern Berkshire Volunteer Ambulance Squad as well as continuing his work with the Fire Department.
In 1987, he was hired full time for the Southern Berkshire Ambulance Squad and his very first paid call was "to treat a combative elderly gentleman who had also suffered a seizure just prior." The elderly gentleman was his father and it became one of his most memorable calls.
He is now a full-time paramedic with the Adams Ambulance Service and still takes shifts with the Southern Berkshire Ambulance.
On Friday, his long years of service were recognized when he was granted the Advanced Life Support Provider of the Year by the Emergency Medical Service Corp. of Berkshire County.
With a similarly long history in medical services, Dr. George Deering III also was honored Friday night with the Emergency Medicine Physician of Excellence Award.
Deering was recognized for "melding the many disciplines needed to produce the best patient outcome possible." His career began in 1966 with the U.S. Coast Guard, where he earned the Antarctic Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal and National Defense Medal. He then became a police officer and an EMT in Belchertown. He receiver his instructor certification and taught many EMT programs and was appointed to the Massachusetts OEMS Region II director of EMT training.
He graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1973, earned his medical degree four years later and did his residency at Berkshire Medical Center. He continued a 35-year career teaching and practicing medicine. In 1984, he started taking overseas trips as a volunteer physician.
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Director of Public Safety Joseph Charon took home the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award. Charon currently chairs the Northern Berkshire Regional Emergency Planning Committee and is a part-time officer in Cheshire.
In recent years, he has overseen responses to a bomb scare and a natural gas leak at the college, been the sponsor of a tactical EMS class for responders and organized active shooter and other incident command training sessions.
Charon is a former Marine Corps corporal, serving in the Persian Gulf, and has a master's degree from Boston University. He is certified first responder and holds qualifications in more than 50 management, training and response disciplines.
Dr. George Deering was honored with the emergency medicine physician of excellence award.
In his spare time, he helps the ROPES summer camp, is a DARE officer and a soccer coach.
Also coming from the MCLA campus, Bentley Munsell was awarded the Basic Life Support Provider of the Year. A relatively newcomer to the EMS profession — earning his certification in 2011 — he made a quick transition from the classroom to the profession.
Almost immediately after getting into the field, he became a teacher and lecturer and started organizing volunteer EMS activities.
Munsell is a dean's list student in 2011, 2012, and 2013 and received MCLA's first ever Pamela Dennis Scholarship for his academics. Currently pursuing bachelors' degrees in biology and psychology, Munsell teaches EMS courses and mentors EMS students.
Communications Specialist of the Year went to Charles "Butch" Garrity, who has been active in dispatching and public safety since 1994, starting as a supervisor for the State Police Communication Center in Shelburne Falls. He has been a member of the Lanesborough Volunteer Fire Department since the 1970a and became an EMT in 1984.
Outside of the hands-on experience of being a first-responder for 40 years, Garrity earned an associates degree in fire science from Berkshire Community College, a bachelor's degree in public administration from the University of Massachusetts and graduated from the National Fire Academy's Executive Fire Officer Program.
Meanwhile, Garrity spends his time volunteering to help the Berkshire County EMS Expo and the tri-state field day in Franklin County.