Graham Parks from Fire & Rescue NSW and David Cotsios, of NSW Volunteer Rescue Association, were the big winners at the Rotary NSW Emergency Services Community Awards.
Captain Parks, of Leeton, was named officer of the year serving in a paid capacity and Mr Cotsios, of Batlow, officer of the year serving in a volunteer capacity.
Captain Parks has served with Fire & Rescue NSW more than 30 years and been a volunteer member of his station’s peer support team to the point where has been known to provide counselling to more than 10 firefighters at a time. It has gone beyond the emergency services. He provided counselling to the Jerilderie Rugby Club after one of its members died in a motor vehicle accident as well as a high school and community groups following the murder of a teacher.
“This is an enormous honour. I feel very humbled. Thank you to Rotary and all the sponsors. Money raised going towards helping address post traumatic stress in the emergency services is great. It issomething close to my heart.”
Deputy Captain Cotsios was present at the Thredbo landslide disaster in 1997 and has been a member of the Batlow Search and Rescue Squad since 1993. He provides counselling services to his squad and is recognised as a great mentor to many in the VRA.
The winners were announced on Friday in front of 350 people at the second annual presentation dinner at Dockside Pavilion, Darling Harbour. That came after finalists for each emergency service were introduced and officers of the year from each service being named.
Mr Parks was officer of the year for Fire and Rescue NSW and Mr Cotsios for the VRA. Greenwell Point’s Peter Taylor was officer of the year for Marine Rescue NSW, Murwillumbah’s Grant Prendergast won the honour for NSW Ambulance, Mark Murphy, of Willowtree, was officer of the year for NSW Rural Fire Service and Danielle Osborne, of Lightning Ridge, picked up the title for the NSW State Emergency Service.
The event that started with a pilot program run by Illawarra six years ago and has now been embraced by Rotary districts and clubs across NSW. There are plans in coming years to make it a national award that brings all the services together to recognise the selfless work of emergency personnel in communities across Australia.
Rotary District 9675 district governor Stephen Humphreys said Rotary is honoured to recognise the many paid and volunteer members of the emergency services who epitomise Rotary’s motto of service above self. NSW Minister for Emergency Services David Elliot described it as the highlight of the year for him in his role.
Funds raised from the event will support an Australian Rotary Health, PhD Research Scholarship investigating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Emergency Services personnel.
Emergency Services, Officers of the Year Fire & Rescue NSW
- Graham Parks from Leeton Marine Rescue NSW
- Peter Taylor from The Shoalhaven Region NSW Ambulance
- Grant Prendergast from Murwillumbah NSW Rural Fire Service
- Mark Murphy from Liverpool Range Zone. NSW State Emergency Service
- Danielle Osborne from Lightning Ridge. NSW Volunteer Rescue Association
Overall Officers of the Year
- David Cotsios from Batlow Overall Officers of the Year. Officer serving in a Volunteer Capacity
- David Cotsios, NSW Volunteer Rescue Association. Officer serving in a Paid Capacity: Graham Parks, Fire and Rescue NSW