The Colton Rural Fire District #70 Board held its annual awards and recognition banquet at Hopkins Demonstration Forest on Feb.19 to honor its 22 volunteer firefighters and recognize the department’s outstanding volunteer first responders.
The board recognized their eight new emergency medical responders: Zachary Boots, Mike Decristoforo, Doug Dolney, Dan Dunn, David Hernandez, Justin Oberlander, Daniel Snyder, Josh Steele and three new recruits: Taylor Bauer, Matthew Ellington and Britney Stanbro. Also honored were two volunteers who retired in 2022, Assistant Chief Kerry Benthin, who was with Colton Fire for 30 year, and Captain Doug Dolney, who served in fire fighting for 24 years, the last 17 with Colton.
Chief Todd Gary said the volunteers responded to 493 emergency calls in 2022 with an average of 4.39 emergency responders on each call. The top volunteer responder for 2022 was Mike Decristoforo.
Jasmine Schneider, president of the Colton Volunteer Firefighters Association, announced the next two awards that were voted on by all members of the association, along with an explanation as to why they were chosen.
Jodi Kuhn was awarded EMS (emergency medical services) Provider of the Year. One of the peer nomination forms read, “"During 2022, Jodi took the lead on the Oregon emergency medical responder course. Think about the eight new EMR (emergency medical responder) trained personnel and the several 100 calls that they have collectively been on and where they used the knowledge that Jodi was able to deliver, shows just what an impact she made on the Colton community.”
Firefighter of the Year was awarded to Mike Decristoforo. One of the statements about Decristoro from the peer nomination form reads, "Mike's commitment to the community and department is clear by his response rate. He has a positive attitude during drills and on calls and encourages others to do their best."
Another mentioned all the time he puts into working on, updating and repairing the department’s apparatus.
Gary shared a story about a gentleman who stopped into the fire station for a blood pressure check. During the visit the man went into a medical emergency and flat-lined.
“It took all of us. I started CPR. Our office team, Jan (Kaforski) and Betty (Hodges) called 911 and ran to the apparatus to retrieve the medical equipment. Colton EMR Jason Niwa, who works at Coltontel, saw the tones and immediately came over and we were able to get his heart working. Jason rode with him in the ambulance to the hospital. Three days later the recovered patient walked into our office to thank us. It was pretty amazing.”
This year, to add to the fun, the Murder Mystery Company of Portland was hired to bring some fun and suspense to the evening. The ‘who-done-it’ was set in the 1980s and the volunteers and their guests were asked to dress ‘80s style. Volunteer Dan Dunn said a Scottish theme was brought into the event just to make it more fun and give people a choice. Firefighters arrived dressed in all types of outfits, some blending the two genres to add to the fun of the night.
During the murder mystery presentation some of the volunteer firefighters and their guests assumed the role of detectives and others were asked to play the role of suspects. Those in attendance really enjoyed interrogating each suspect, checking fingerprints and alibis or answering questions and giving statements in their new persona. Eventually the suspect was identified.
Dinner was buffet style with “Scottish-style” food provided by the local food cart, “The Feed Shack.”
“It was a great night to honor our volunteers who do so much for the community” Gary said. “I think everyone had fun, the food was good and having the time to get together when it isn’t an emergency, training or drill is a nice reprieve for all of us. We want to thank the district’s board of directors for the awards, the dinner and the mystery participation show. It was a great way to honor our volunteers who do so much for the community.”