On November 18, 2022 the Bay County Chamber of Commerce held the Annual First Responders Appreciation Luncheon presented by Tyndall Federal Credit Union. Local Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS, and Communications were honored at FSU Panama City as the business community came together to show their thankfulness and gratitude.
Seth Spiro, Chief Marketing Officer spoke on behalf of Tyndall Federal Credit Union which included: "Local Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS -- we are lucky to have you - you make this community safer. You provide peace of mind and instill confidence that everything will be ok. You prove it over and over, in big ways also and in ways that we might not even see. But your hard work, your bravery, and the stress you take on are not taken for granted -- we truly respect you and sincerely appreciate it.
Keynote Speaker: Lindsay Fealko
The keynote speaker for the event was Lindsay Fealko. She is a paramedic for the New Orleans EMX and a flight paramedic for Mississippi Air Rescue 5. Fealko has been an EMS for 10 years. She has also been featured on A&E series Nightwatch.
The history of the Challenge Coin was explained and dates back to Ancient Rome, with soldiers carrying a minted mark of the legion they came from. Our United States Military from WWI to present uses the Challenge Coin as an acknowledgement to show camaraderie…as a token of “belonging.” Currently the Challenge Coin continues to be an honored tradition in many sectors including our Military, White House, Law Enforcement, Fire Service, Emergency Medical Service, and other civic organizations. Carrying a Challenge Coin is a well-respected practice, a way to show allegiance.
Three First Responders of the Year Awards were announced. These awards were given to those who have went above and beyond their call of duty to better Bay County.
- The law enforcement officer of the year is Lt. Billy Carstarphen with the Panama City Police Department.
- Firefighter of the year went to the entire Florida Forest Service for fighting this spring's wildfires.
- Dispatcher award recipient is Rue DeBoer.
- Emergency Medical Services Jack Fox.
The luncheon ended with a special video sponsored by Williams Communications & WMBB which featured local officials.
Thank You to Our First Responders
We honor these brave men and women who do so much for our community, making it a better place for all of us to live.