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Making Sacrifices to Protect the Community: That's Gotta Feel Good

May 2021

Mayor David McCann as seen in Celebrate Hilton Head Magazine

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend our Fire Rescue Department's annual service award program, where our firefighters and other professionals in this frontline industry are recognized for their service, promotions, and retirement. While I appreciated all of our emergency response employees for their milestones, I was most amazed by the sacrifices so many of them have made to be a member of this team of responders. One firefighter did so on his own accord because he wanted to give back to our community in a meaningful way.

Typically, the awards program includes a fancy dinner affair at a local resort property; everyone comes dressed to the nines. But this year, due to COVID-19 precautions, it was a low-key event held at one of our fire stations. In spite of this, it was a beautiful event, and it was a pleasure for me to thank the honorees for their service and contributions.

During this year's awards and advancement ceremony, Fire Rescue welcomed eight new members to the town. Nine honorees, including one dispatch supervisor, seven fire apparatus operators, and one lieutenant were recognized for their promotions. Members that started their careers with Fire Rescue were highlighted, and uniformed firefighters were presented and took an oath of office.

We also had time to meet and learn a little bit about our new members. I was particularly struck by the story Brock McDaniel shared about his path to becoming a firefighter with Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue. It's a true testament of the personal sacrifice he made to pursue his dream and be in a position to serve our community.

Brock came to our area as an employee of the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce. But, after experiencing a medical emergency involving a family member, he decided he wanted to do more to give back. In 2019, he applied to Fire Rescue and completed all the requirements to be placed in our hiring pool. On the day that he passed his physical abilities test, he was given a sheet of paper explaining the next steps. On that piece of paper was Brock's future. It simply stated that if you possess any fire or emergency medical services certificates, please forward them to us. Brock had to accomplish this list of items to improve his chances of joining our team. He was undaunted by this challenge, which required him to commit personal time and finances.

Brock enrolled in Technical College of the Lowcountry, where he earned his emergency medical technician certificate. He next applied and was admitted to the South Carolina Fire Academy (SCFA) Recruit School, which required him to be sponsored by a local fire department. He joined Jasper County Fire Rescue as a volunteer firefighter with the hopes of being sponsored. Brock eventually attended the SCFA Recruit School and graduated in late 2020. He remembered that piece of paper he was handed and realized he had finished all the necessary requirements to become a firefighter. We hired him within weeks of his graduation from the academy.

My hat goes off to Brock McDaniel for his personal sacrifice, to our honorees for their service, and to every member of our Fire Rescue Department for all they do to serve and protect our community. It's gotta feel good when you serve, protect and give back.