Longtime Neligh Rescue members were honored Tuesday night for their service, including Steve Simonsen who was named EMT of the Year.
Rescue co-captains Jared Jacob said Simonsen was a clear choice for the top honor because of his dedication to helping people, despite being a busy business owner and community leader.
“Steve had the third-most number of runs this year,” Jacob said. “That’s even with him being a business owner, umpiring baseball and officiating other sports, as well as his other volunteer efforts. Add in the Rescue squad, and he stays pretty busy.”
Simonsen owns Antelope County Chiropractic & Wellness and is a member of the Neligh Young Men’s Club and Neligh Chamber of Commerce board member.
Jacob said because of Simonsen’s work as a chiropractor, he’s a tremendous asset in dealing with patients. He said Simonsen’s bedside manner is incredible, especially during difficult situations.
“Socially, he’s a great communicator with our patients,” Jacob said. “Because he deals with so many different people, he’s able to make sure our patients understand what’s going on. That’s a tremendous asset for an EMT.”
As expected, Simonsen was humble about the honor and quickly shifted the credit to his fellow squad member.
"This is a great squad to be a part of," he said. "I do go on a lot of runs, but the most of the ones I go on are at night because I can't get away during the day. I figured being part of the squad, that's where I can pick up the slack. I enjoy this, and the people are fun to be with."
Jacob said Simonsen has attended every Rescue meeting in the last year and as far as education goes, he’s at the top of all requirements.
“He’s a great guy and well-rounded individual,” Jacob said. “He’s great for our community, and I’m proud to have him on our Rescue squad. This is a very deserving honor.”
Simons said was surprised to receive the away because there are so many people who go on the calls who are deserving of being recognized.
"For them to single me out, I do appreciate it. I do value that," he said. "But it's not just me. This is really a great squad to be a part of."
Simonsen, who did not know he was receiving the award, was presented a 511 parka with his name badge on the back, as well as a certificate. Jacob said only his wife, Lauren, knew of the award and made sure he was able to be at the event rather than umpiring baseball.
“She’s kept it a secret from him for about two months, which is pretty hard to do. He’s a sharp guy,” Jacob said.
Jacob said this is the second year awards have been presented to Neligh EMTs, and it was important to him to recognize the outstanding efforts by the two dozen volunteers.
"I'm very proud to be a part of this team," Jacob said. "The experience we have on our squad is unbelievable, and each of them deserve to be thanked and recognized.”
Other awards presented on Tuesday were for most improved EMT given to Brian Whitesel, which is based on an increased number of runs compared to the previous year.
Brian Schlote was awarded excellence in education, and Dennis Schwager was recognized with having been on more than 120 runs this year.
Longevity awards were presented to Schlote for 5 years, Diane Carpenter and Duane Risinger for 20 years and Joan Wright for 25 years.
Neligh Rescue members are co-captains Jared Jacob and Brian Whitesel. Squad members are Kenny Capler, Diane Carpenter, Thomas Carothers, Gayle Carlson, Doug Dennis, Phil Hart, Dave Jacobsen, Lyle Juracek, Terra Bentley-Kimes, Mike Mortensen, Michaela Potter, Karmen Rotherham, Duane Risinger, Steve Simonsen, Dave Schmidt, Brian Schlote, Dennis Schwager, Corrie Starkey, Julie Tschirren, Mike Wright and Joan Wright.