U.S. Rep. McSally Recognizes S. AZ First Responder of Distinction
TUCSON – U.S. Representative Martha McSally today hosted her office’s second annual Congressional First Responder of Distinction Award Ceremony. The award recognizes local, county, state, and federal first responders—fire, police, and emergency medical personnel—in the Second District who go above and beyond to serve Southern Arizona.
“First Responders make enormous sacrifices for our community here in Southern Arizona – putting their lives on the line and working day and night to keep us safe,” said Congresswoman McSally. “I have tremendous respect for all that our First Responders do, and I was proud to recognize some of the most committed at our award ceremony today. I congratulate all of those First Responders who were nominated and thank our panel of judges for making this award possible.”
Congresswoman McSally’s office received a large number of nominations for this year’s award. Nominations included First Responders from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Arizona Ambulance Transport, Sierra Vista and Tucson Fire Departments, Tucson and Douglas Police Departments, Frye, Mountain Vista, and Golder Ranch Fire Districts, U.S. Border Patrol, and the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.
Awards were chosen by a panel of judges from the Southern Arizona First Responder community who reviewed each nomination.
The list of recognized First Responders follows:
First Place: Mertie Stompro, Patrol Lieutenant with the Sierra Vista Police Department
Team Award: Davis Monthan Fire and Emergency Services
Honorable Mention: Roberto Vasquez, Tucson Fire Department Captain
Honorable Mention: David Bruster, Tombstone Fire Chief
First Place Winner: Mertie Stompro Jr. Patrol Lieutenant, Sierra Vista Police Department
Lt. Mertie Stompro has served in the Sierra Vista Police Department for 20 years. His many leadership roles include Team Leader for the Sierra Vista PD Tactical Unit and founding member of the SVPD Special Response Team. Recently Mertie distinguished himself as the Sergeant overseeing firearms training for the department. His steadfast approach to challenging officers in the training environment has greatly improved the skill level and preparedness of all ranks within SVPD. In his spare time, Lt Stompro has coordinated an annual “Foot Pursuit 5K” race that has become the largest organized race in the Sierra Vista area and fosters positive interaction between law enforcement and the community. Last year, the race raised $6,000 for the annual “Christmas with a Cop” event sponsored by the Sierra Vista Police Officer’s Association. Lt. Stompro has worked tirelessly over the last several years to develop emergency preparedness training exercises in the local schools and has developed a lasting partnership with the Sierra Vista Unified School District.
Team Award Winner: Davis Monthan Air Force Base Fire & Emergency Service 355th Squadron
DM FES firefighters provide fire, rescue, emergency medical and combat support in 25 operating bases year round. In the past year, DM FES hosted over 500 firefighters from 12 neighboring departments, three local fire academies and local law enforcement agencies in joint SWAT/Rescue Task Force Training. In the last year they have provided more than 150 hours of fire prevention education supporting over 300 children at Borman Elementary and Sonoran Science Academy. Additionally, they have volunteered 250 hours to: Habitat for Humanity, Tanque Verde Little League, STARBASE, Pima Interagency Training Committee, AZ Center for Fire Service Excellence, PSESI and numerous other organizations. Despite being 30% undermanned, they protect $50 billion dollars in assets and 14,000 personnel. Even with the diverse demands, DM FES was able to combine their experience, hard work, and talent to garner the prestigious milestone of Commission on Fire Accreditation International, an honor only 230 departments in the world have ever earned.
Honorable Mention: Roberto Vasquez Captain, Tucson Fire Department
Captain Vasquez has been with Tucson Fire Department since August 2004. He created a public education program called “The Do Something Campaign,” to educate the public on the small things that can be done to keep children safe. Part of this campaign included public education videos which continue to air today. On his days off, Captain Vasquez was part of a recent renovation of the First Responders display at the Children’s Museum. In addition, he volunteers his time in the community packing food boxes during the Thanksgiving and holiday season, and at Banner Diamond Center on Christmas Eve, wrapping presents for children. Coworkers note that he lives by the values he professes and motivates other leaders around him.
Honorable Mention: David Bruster, Tombstone Fire Chief/EMT
As Tombstone Fire Chief, David Bruster has been responsible for significant changes within the Tombstone Fire Department. David is dedicated to working with the “Healthy Tombstone committee”, he provides many hours of fire education to local schools, and he delivers meals to disabled seniors and has developed training of new cadets to become firefighters. David’s enthusiasm and perseverance to promote continued education within the volunteer firefighter group in Tombstone has led to 7 of his crew completing EMT training. David has worked tirelessly to raise money and apply for grants to replace protective equipment, including: SCBA systems, tanks, air packs, helmets, gloves, turnout coats and a mask and fill station compressor. Additionally, he was able to negotiate the purchase of a newer fire truck to replace an old truck that was in disrepair and unsafe for the department.
To view more photos of the event, click HERE.