Columbus Fire and EMS names firefighter of the year - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Columbus Fire and EMS names firefighter of the year

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

From putting out blazing fires, to being first on the scene for medical emergencies, firefighters across the Valley have made some heroic saves over the last year. 

Those efforts were honored on Wednesday at the 2015 Columbus Fire and EMS award ceremony.

Lt. Charles Herlth was named firefighter of the year, and other recipients who received recognition were humble, saying they're driven to do even more for the community.

Columbus Fire and EMS Capt. Scott Boatner has spent much of the last 25 years in the passenger's seat during loud and bumpy rides. 

"You spend a third of your life here, you miss your kid's birthdays, you miss anniversaries," said Boatner.

Those sacrifices resonate for others like 2015 firefighter of the year Lt. Herlth, who has spent his life dedicated to public service. 

"I spent 22 years in the Army as an infantry soldier, after I returned from Kuwait, I actually shot my way onto the Army shooting team," said Herlth.

Every time firefighters load into their trucks they have to be prepared for the worst, but it's not every day they encounter situations as horrific as a 2014 emergency.

Trapped, injured, and hanging from the side of the 13th street bridge is how first responders found a worker who was hit in the back by a loose piece of metal.

It was a July 2014 call that required a lot of team work and fast thinking,  and would become a memorable rescue for all those involved. 

"He walked out of the hospital, so it was a good day," said Boatner, recalling how his team was able to save that worker's life.

Herlth says he trained some of those responders honored at Wednesday's ceremony and it was a touching reminder of why he does what he does.

"To see it come full circle and see those individuals out there doing the job just makes it that much more rewarding. Firefighters we spoke to today say they are so happy to see Herlth named firefighter of the year, saying he's one of the best people they've ever met, on and off the job," Herlth said. 

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