American Legion honors first responders

Terri Steward, Shane Malone, John Thomas, Blake Cutshall

First Responder Officer of the Year awards are selected by and presented annually by the Kings Mountain Post 24 to those professionals who have exceeded the requirements expected of their position, and have shown a distinct pattern of community service and professional achievement.
For the first time, the Kings Mountain Post has created an award to recognize the service of the 911 Dispatch.  We know when an emergency is realized, perhaps the first thing we should do is to call 911.  In the Johnson City and Washington County area those calls go to the Johnson City Washington County 911 District.  

Terri Steward, who has served her community for nearly a decade, was selected to receive the honor as the ‘First 2021 Dispatcher of the Year’.

According to Greg Matherly, District Director, “Terri’s experience and full range of knowledge has made her a highly valued member of the team.  As such, she is the designated trainer for all new dispatchers.  She has updated the training manual and continues to mentor their work.”  
The ‘2021 Firefighter of the Year’ is Lieutenant Shane Malone of the Johnson City Fire Department.  Lieutenant Malone, a 16-year veteran of the department, was nominated for his technical competence as a firefighter and leadership within the department.  He consistently goes above the call of duty for both this department and the community as a whole.  Lieutenant Malone’s award recommendation was forwarded through the American Legion, Department of Tennessee, to the Southern Region (12 States) for further consideration.  As a result Lieutenant Malone was selected as the ‘Southern Region Firefighter of the Year’. 
The ‘2021 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year’ is Officer Blake Cutshall, Johnson City Police Department.  Officer Cutshall can be seen talking with business owners/managers in the downtown Johnson City area where he is frequently assigned.  He embodies the spirit of the officer in the painting by Norman Rockwell in ‘The Runaway’.  At a time when some Police Departments are criticized for their handling of certain incidents, Officer Blake Cutshall and the Johnson City Police Department are setting the example and making a positive impact. 
The ‘2021 Emergency Medical Technician of the Year’ is Sergeant John Thomas, Washington County/Johnson City EMS.  Sergeant Thomas has been employed in the EMT field for over 22 years, beginning in high school, earning a Bachelor of Science in Psychology which lends itself when working with patients in critical condition or emergency situations.  

He joined the US Army in 2005 as a combat medic and was assigned to the 1st Armored Division of Baumholder, Germany.  Sergeant Thomas deployed to Iraq as a combat medic responsible to provide clinical and emergency medical aid to hundreds of soldiers.  His superior service earned him two Army Commendation Medals.  

The Kings Mountain Post 24 submitted Sergeant Thomas’ nomination packet to The American Legion Department of Tennessee for consideration for selection as the Department EMS of the Year.  The Awards Committee selected Sergeant Thomas for that award.  The presentation of this award was made at the Department Convention June 5.


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