Martin “Marty” Ellis receives the Award for Excellence for coordinating a peer support program for firefighters in crisis. (photo courtesy of Poulsbo Fire Department)

Martin “Marty” Ellis receives the Award for Excellence for coordinating a peer support program for firefighters in crisis. (photo courtesy of Poulsbo Fire Department)

Poulsbo firefighters receive awards and honors

On Nov. 20 Kitsap County Fire Protection District 18 also known as the Poulsbo Fire Department presented awards, honors, recognitions and promotions to several of its firefighters for their service.

Several firefighters received promotions in June of 2019 and many more will be promoted in January of 2020.

In June, Craig Becker was promoted to Battalion Chief, Kevin Vay to Captain and Bryson Eader to Lieutenant.

In January Brian Ramey will be promoted to Captain and Bruce Lowrie will be promoted to Lieutenant.

The evening also recognized three retiring or retired firefighters, Battalion Chief Chris Morrison, Commissioner Conrad Green and Officer Assistant Holly Randall.

During the evening’s events a new firefighter/ EMT, Curtis Lightner was sworn in as well. Lightner began his firefighting career in Jefferson County in 2007, spending his first three years as a volunteer firefighter and EMT. Lightner is currently working on obtaining his associate degree in fire science.

Marty Ellis was recognized by receiving the Commissioner Award of Excellence for his coordination of peer support Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) program.

CISM is a program aimed at early recognition of stress following incidents that have the potential to create significant distress and can overwhelm one’s usual coping mechanisms. The program also helps direct firefighters to appropriate mental health professionals when they are in crisis.

As a profession, firefighting has a high rate of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other stress-related illnesses and is among the top-10 professions in the country to have high rates for suicide according to a 2015 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CISM team made up of Peer Support Coordinators like Ellis, trains and educates career personnel in ways to manage stress and recognize crisis and potential crises in others and in order to direct them toward support.

Ellis is a Peer Support Coordinator working with other firefighters to increase awareness and establish an outreach and stability program for firefighters.

“Peer support is walking beside someone during a difficult period of time and being an intentional friend,” Jody Matson, Community Relation Specialist for Poulsbo Fire said.

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