Savannah firefighters, EMTs recognized in 2020 award ceremony

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV)—Savannah firefighters and EMTs were recognized Monday for their bravery and hard work over the last year.

The Exchange Club of Savannah presented local first responders with the 2020 Firefighters and EMTs of the Year Awards at Carey Hilliard’s on Abercorn Street.

Justin Brown won this year’s Rookie of the Year award and Thomas Bartlett won Volunteer of the Year.

Wesley Witbeck of Chatham Emergency Services was awarded Firefighter of the Year after being named Rookie of the Year just a few years ago.

“It’s nice to be appreciated, but that’s not really why we do it,” Witbeck said. “We do it to provide a service to the public. It does mean a lot. But we have a lot on our plate this year with COVID. It’s a team effort. I like to tell the guys it’s not an ‘I’ thing, it’s a group thing. We’re here for each other and we gotta work as a team.”

Witbeck’s advice to young team members just starting out in the profession is to study hard and listen to your superiors.

Hear more from 2020 Firefighter of the Year Wesley Witbeck below:

“Just be patient, keep your head down and study,” Witbeck said.

“Be a good listener. Study the senior guys and study what goes on. It’s a lot, what we have to do when we get on the scene. It doesn’t come in a day or a week or a month,” he added. “It takes time to get the muscle memory down for this job. Absorb as much as you can.”

Witbeck says he’s proud of every team member who was recognized for their heroism and those who didn’t receive awards—because he says at the end of the day it’s about teamwork.

“We all need to be together, work together, and support each other,” Witbeck said.

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