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First Responders Recognition Awards!

The First Responders Recognition programme was introduced by the Rotary Club of Gravenhurst in partnership with the District of Muskoka Paramedic Services, Gravenhurst Fire Department and Ontario Provincial Police Bracebridge Detachment. Its purpose is to recognize the outstanding service and contribution first responders make to the safety and security of our community on a daily basis.

On Monday, October 21st, 2019 The Rotary Club of Gravenhurst formally recognized eight (8) individuals from the three (3) emergency services who have performed their duties in an exemplary manner. The nominees were presented with a Rotary Club challenge coin. Further, a donation of one hundred dollars ($100.00) will be made by the Club in their name to a charity of their choice. The chiefs of the Paramedics and Fire Department and the Bracebridge O.P.P. Detachment Inspector who, nominated the individuals were present to assist in the formal recognition. This is the third presentation since the programme was implemented in early 2019.

The following are nominees along with a background for their nomination:


Paramedic Ken McCaskie retired in July 2019 after serving the residents and visitors of Muskoka for 39 years, primarily serving the Town of Gravenhurst. In addition to providing quality care to all his patients, Ken built and designed a number of unique devices to safely and more efficiently transport patients. He participated in numerous events that raised thousands of charity dollars. Ken is also the recipient of several professional commendations. Ken’s contribution to Muskoka is hard to measure; his compassion and commitment to the profession will be remembered by his peers and those he served.


Lukas Chew is a 10 year volunteer firefighter who serves as a company officer supervising 20 firefighters. He is looked upon as positive role model and a respected mentor. Lukas is very involved in most facets of firefighter training especially in the area of first aid. Lukas’ dedication to the profession and providing quality training to the Fire Department over his many years of service is such that his nomination was, in large part originated from his peers and co-workers.


Two officers responded to a call about a troubled male with a history of mental health issues who was potentially violent and in a state of distress. Officers found the male in a vehicle and attempted to engage him in a conversation, however he was incoherent and agitated. Two more officers were dispatched in support of the first two officers. Following extended efforts to de-escalate the situation, the individual suddenly sped off in his car at a high speed. He at one point traveled the wrong way on Highway 11. Numerous methods were employed to stop the vehicle including a rolling road block but did not work. Officers were left with no option but to force the vehicle off the roadway. An additional two officers joined the effort. Having stopped the vehicle the officers again engaged the individual in conversation. After a time, the individual surrendered peacefully and was transported to hospital for assessment. The officers through their teamwork and communication skills brought an incident that had the real potential for a very negative outcome to a successful conclusion for the public, but more importantly for the individual.

Officers: Provincial Constables Matt MacBride, Phil Thompson, Willl Forest, Nathan Buchanan, Krista Hatfield, Julia Bateman-MacKinnon

About Kathryn Barr Mcgill

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