(Calhoun, Ga) — In an emotional ceremony held during Emergency Medical Services Week, Lt. Dottie Payne of the Gordon County Fire Department was presented with the first Kathy Cox Guardian Angel Award.
In addition, the first Gordon EMS Above and Beyond Award was presented to Officer Juan Cotto of the Calhoun Police Department.
“As we began making preparations for EMS week, we wanted to renew something that took place here for many years, which was a public safety cookout in order to say thank you to all the men and women of the different services that help us do our job and keep us safe on a daily basis,” explained Courtney Taylor, director of Gordon EMS. “Not only did we want to renew old traditions, but we as Gordon EMS wanted to create new ones. Suggestions were made and out of these suggestions came the birth of two awards that will be given out annually during EMS week.”
Taylor added that the Kathy Cox Guardian Angel Award was created to not only honor the memory and service of Gordon County Ordinance Officer Cox, who died in an automobile accident on Aug. 21, 2008 while on duty, but to also recognize annually a public safety official who shares many of her extraordinary values.
“Kathy was very well known and loved in Gordon County for her caring, her kindness, her dedication, and her ability to look beyond what most see and discover the good in humanity,” Taylor said during the awards ceremony. “Kathy did much to further the cause of public safety in Gordon County. The depth of her compassion and caring reaches much farther than even Kathy herself could have imagined.”
In setting the criteria for the award, Taylor said the ideal recipient would exhibit: dedication to job and community; commitment to training and learning of their craft through further education; an ability to work with others as a team among all public safety agencies; the ability to step out of the box and help people who others might not see as needing aid; a sense of humor and genuine laughter; dedication of their lives to public safety and an understanding of the impact it makes on their community; taking the time to work with colleagues, to network, and to learn from one another; mentor and/or be mentored by fellow ordinance officers, firefighters, EMS, sheriff’s deputies, telecommunicators, and others in order to benefit from shared knowledge; someone who thinks past the badge or title and does not hide behind it; someone who is willing and able to reach out to the community and has the confidence to do the job without being overbearing.
“Such were the qualities of Officer Kathy Cox,” Taylor said. “Each of the nominees from every represented department is exemplary and deserving of recognition for their dedication to work and community.”
In addition to award recipient Lt. Payne, nominees for the award were Master Trooper Steve Yancey of the Georgia State Patrol, Telecommunicator Angela Williams of Gordon County E-911, Lt. Burton Fox of the City of Calhoun Fire Department, Lt. Harris Housley of the City of Calhoun Police Department, and Detective Trish Bedford of the Gordon County Sheriff's Office.
Cox’s husband, Lieutenant Kenny Cox of the East Ellijay Police Department, assisted Taylor in presenting the award to Lt. Payne.
The nominations for the Gordon EMS Above and Beyond Award were made by EMS personnel in appreciation for the invaluable aid and support rendered to Gordon EMS that is above and beyond the call of duty and their selfless dedication and willingness to help others, Taylor explained.
In addition to recipient Officer Cotto, nominees were David West, Ellis Payne, Luke Motes, Ray Black, and C-Shift, all of the Gordon County Fire Department; Sandy Townsend and Jennifer Derryberry, both of Gordon County E-911; Robert Oglesby of the Calhoun Fire Department; Adam Kilgore and Hoyt Bates, both of the Calhoun Police Department; and William Channel of the Gordon County Sheriff’s Office.