One Hanover Fire/EMS volunteer has been honored for all the time and effort he has dedicated to helping the county.
William “Berk” Jones of Mechanicsville has been certified as an EMT since 1997 and joined Ashland Volunteer Rescue Squad in 1998. This year, he received the Governor’s EMS Award for Outstanding Pre-hospital Provider for his public service in Hanover.
“I never expected I was going to get an award,” Jones said.
The night of the award ceremony, Jones said he had gotten comfortable and took off his sportcoat while awards were being announced. He prepared himself to start clapping for the winner of the award when he heard his name over the speaker.
“I thought, ‘Could this be real?’” Jones said.
But Jones has put his time in. Every Tuesday he is on duty from 6 p.m. -6 a.m. and every sixth Saturday he pulls a 24-hour-shift. Sometimes he will volunteer more and help the building office or holds a CPR class. He also has over 40 years of experience serving the public in more ways than volunteering for the squad. He worked as a public safety officer at Richmond International Airport but retired.
Recently he became a paramedic after taking classes at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College.
“Paramedic studies have grown more complex and more technical,” said Mike Watkins, a fellow firefighter/medic who serves with the Hanover Fire-EMS training division. “Upon his retirement, a time when others might put their feet up, Berk chose to embark on this challenge. There is a lot to be said for that.”
Jones is important to his crew that he has grown to love.
“Jones has been an invaluable asset to the Hanover Fire-EMS Department for years and I’m very pleased to see him recognized,” said Jethro H. Piland III, chief of Hanover Fire/EMS. “This is but one example of the great things that our people do and I am glad to see him honored in such a way for his hard work.”
Jones’ favorite part of his job as an EMT is all the people he gets to meet, but there’s more to it than camaraderie.
“We’re all here to help people,” Jones said.
He added, “You see people in their worst a lot of times.”
By volunteering as an EMT, Jones said he can help ease people’s fears while giving back to the community.
“It opens your eyes,” Jones said.
He added that it reminds him to be grateful for everything he has in his life.
During his time with the department, Jones said he has experienced some unfortunate incidents like not being able to save a 2-year-old from choking to death but never any near death experiences on his crews’ part.
He also talked about the happy moments like delivering a baby on the side of the road in an ambulance after a woman went into labor while they were driving to the hospital. Jones said that last he heard, the baby was doing well.
“It’s got highs and lows,” Jones said. “Best thing you can do is do your best.”
Although winning the award came as a complete surprise to Jones, he felt that there are a lot of other providers in the county that don’t get recognized. He said that some are better than him but don’t get the recognition they may deserve.
Jones said he has the highest regard for the department’s firefighters & EMTs on the squad.
“The work they do, you couldn’t pay for that,” he said.