The Western Albemarle Rescue Squad held its annual awards dinner and dance February 7 at King Family Vineyards to recognize the contributions of its “all-volunteer, all the time” members and named Raven Curtis as its Member of the Year.
The slide show, a yearbook-like look at the past year, featured pictures of Robert “Bubba” Baber, who succumbed to cancer in June and whose family were special guests of the evening.
“It’s a real significant loss to the community,” said WARS president Bill Woods. “We appreciate that he was part of our lives.
“Your smile, attitude and compassion, and desire to teach were contagious,” he said, addressing slides of Baber as they passed by. “Thank you, sir, for your dedicated service. Rest easy, my friend. We’ll take it from here.” Baber was also a volunteer fireman with the CVFD.
A somber quiet fell over the room as the family came forward and the screen went blank for a minute. The crowd stood for an ovation. The family was presented with a WARS logo blanket and a memorial plaque.
Bob Knox was recognized for being WARS’s longest serving volunteer, with 35 years in. He reminisced about the equipment the squad used in his early days and the radio lingo that was used.
“We are truly the last of the all-volunteer all the time squads,” he said. “We have the best training going on. We have challenges from the population growth in Crozet. Our number of calls is always increasing. We can get three calls at a time. We put out two and three ambulances at a time. That can only happen with incredible dedication.”
An emergency call came in as he was talking. Knox paused, and some squad members went out to a car accident on Miller School Road.
“I raise a glass to WARS, who I have been proud to serve with,” he said. “It is the greatest service to a community that I have ever seen.”
The Frances Henry Award to the volunteer who ran the most calls in the year went to Seth Wood.
The Rookie of the Year award went to Valerie Quick, a paramedic educator. “I’ve been doing this 20 years,” she protested. But it’s her first year with WARS.
The Chief’s Award went to Taylor Tereskerz.
Raven Curtis was recognized as the member who “touched the lives of other members.”
The President’s Award went to Bob Knox.
Life Memberships were awarded to Patrick Watson, who was also ribbed about a broken mirror incident, and to Taylor Ashley, Mike Bauer, Michael Walton, Andy Todhunter and Melanie Welcher.
The slides showed the volunteers in their blue shirts at the squad house and in the field, driving, napping, washing vehicles, cooking in their old kitchen and in their remodeled one, at an airport drill and at WAHS sports events, in the town parades and teaming up with the Crozet Volunteer Fire Department, in the backs of ambulances, writing up reports, at nighttime car accidents, being interviewed by TV news reporters, and standing ready at the squad house with their vehicles poised outside the doors.
Squad chief Kostas Alibertis, famous for insisting on the tender care of vehicles, was teased about knocking a light off the back of a truck as he backed it up.
The squad has 80 members and answered 1,400 calls last year. One photo showed three WARS ambulances at U.Va. hospital’s Emergency Department doors at the same time.
The tasty dinner of salmon and short ribs was catered by The Local.
The Charlottesville/Albemarle Rescue Squad covered the WARS region for the awards dinner evening and answered three calls.