Local pg 3 10-10-19


Life Star
Bob Fournier, far left, with members of the Life Star helicopter team, members of the East Putnam Fire Department and members of the Gilman and Valade team with the Life Star helicopter in the background.

By Ronald P. Coderre
E. PUTNAM — The East Putnam Fire Department hosted a family style picnic for the northeastern Connecticut EMS community Oct. 6.  The event was sponsored by the Gilman and Valade Funeral Homes and Crematory in honor of its 100th Anniversary celebration.
“We’re honored to collaborate with the East Putnam Fire Department.  This is our way to say thank you for the work of area Emergency Medical Services as part of our Centennial celebration.  The work of these men and women often goes unrecognized.  They are the everyday heroes of our communities,” said Bob Fournier, owner of Gilman and Valade.
More than 200 first responders and their families attended including fire, police and ambulance services from Putnam, Woodstock, Thompson, Danielson and W. Glocester attended. The Gilman and Valade staff served the picnic food and there were games and entertainment.
“It’s an honor to host today’s event.  We thank Bob Fournier and his staff for this great idea.  First responders don’t usually receive this type of recognition,” said East Putnam Deputy Fire Chief Rene Bates.
The program opened with a moment of silence in memory of fallen firefighters, police officers and medical personnel who have given their lives in the line of duty.  Putnam resident Linda Colangelo presented the National Anthem, followed by the presentation of a monetary gift by Fournier to the East Putnam Fire Department.
“We’re most appreciative of the support of Mr. Fournier.  Our department is in the process of raising funds to replace our current Scott Air Packs.  His gift will go a long way in moving this purchase along,” said Bates.
In making the presentation, Fournier stated, “If this small token of our appreciation helps to save one life, this gift will be well worth the effort put on today by everyone involved.”
A giant American flag was hung by the ladder companies from the Putnam and West Glocester Fire Department.  Tyler Lussier of West Glocester and Joe Donovan of Putnam had the honor of draping ‘Old Glory” from 75 feet atop their respective ladders.
“I’ve been a fireman for 40 years and have been atop the ladder fighting fires and cutting into roofs but hanging the flag is always a special honor,” said Donovan.
Earnie Greenwood, a funeral director with Gilman and Valade, proposed the idea: “This day was exactly how I envisioned it originally.  It’s all about families getting together and for the men and women of the departments to enjoy the camaraderie of each other’s company.  Seeing the stress-free faces of first responders and the smiles on the faces of the youngsters says it all.”
The culminating event was a fly-in by Hartford Health Care Life Star helicopter onto the front grassy area of the department.
A panel of judges, Putnam Mayor Norman “Barney” Seney, and State Representatives Rick L. Hayes and Ann Dauphinais, selected five winners among the variety of emergency vehicles on hand.  The prize for the vehicle that traveled the furthest went to the Montville/Mohegan Fire Department.  The Putnam Fire Department received the award for the Most Unique apparatus; Best-in-Show Antique Award went to the East Putnam 1988 Service Truck (owned by John Williams); and the Best-in-Show Modern and Judges’ Choice went to East Putnam Engine #479. 
The People’s Choice Award was also captured by East Putnam Engine #479.  In a gesture of gratitude and appreciation Deputy Chief Bates presented the award to Montville/Mohegan Fire Department.
“The sharing of the People’s Choice Award is another demonstration of the unity that is enjoyed by all first responders.  The people of our communities can’t say thank you often enough for the dedication of the volunteers of these departments,” said Mayor Seney prior to the conclusion of the day.


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