Virginia’s Heroes: Southwest Virginia first responder receives EMS Governor’s Award

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ABINGDON, Va. (WJHL) — A Southwest Virginia first responder received a distinguished award Saturday that honors her hard work out in the field and recognizes her as an outstanding Emergency Medical Services provider.

Theresa Kingsley-Varble with the Washington County Fire-Rescue and Virginia State Police MedFlight II was bestowed the Governor’s EMS Award for Outstanding Contribution to Leadership in EMS.

She’s been serving Southwest Virginia for over 30 years, spending the first 17 years as a firefighter paramedic. Kingsley-Varble began flying with MedFlight II in 2009.

Despite the decades she’s spent serving her community as a first responder, Kingsley-Varble said she was surprised to have received the award and also noted that many first responders are deserving of it.

“I was shocked, to say the least,” Kingsley-Varble said. “Very humbled. There are a lot of very deserving providers; I was just honored to be the one that was chosen.”

The award, given in Gov. Ralph Northam’s name, aims to acknowledge excellence and dedication among first responders across the Commonwealth.

Virginia Office of EMS Director Gary Brown said that despite the challenges presented by the ongoing pandemic, first responders pushed through to assist Virginians through emergency situations.

“This past year has been particularly challenging and presented unknown circumstances that have required the adaptation, strength and resilience of Virginia’s EMS providers,” Brown said. “This year’s award nominees represent the courage and dedication that has been required to respond to the pandemic.

“I am honored to commend their heroic commitment to saving lives and thank them for their outstanding contributions to Virginia’s EMS System.”

State Health Commissioner Dr. M. Norman Oliver expressed Virginia’s gratitude for first responders who keep communities safe.

“Congratulations to all the award winners and my sincere thanks to all the EMS providers in the Commonwealth,” Oliver said. “Your efforts — whether on a routine call for chest pain or in response to a multi-vehicle crash requiring heroic lifesaving measures — are appreciated by families everywhere.

“During this pandemic, many of you have stepped in to help administer vaccines, further evidence of your dedication to you communities. You are truly Virginia’s heroes.”

The complete list of honors received in the Commonwealth Saturday include the following:

  • The Governor’s EMS Award for Excellence in EMS – Dr. Allen Yee, Chesterfield County Fire and EMS
  • The Governor’s EMS Award for Outstanding Contribution to Leadership – Theresa Kingsley-Varble, Washington County Fire-Rescue and VSP-MedFlight II.
  • The Governor’s EMS Award for Physician with Outstanding Contribution to EMS – Dr. Joseph Ornato, Richmond Ambulance Authority
  • The Governor’s EMS Award for Nurse with Outstanding Contribution to EMS – Daniel Freeman, R.N., Carilion Clinic
  • The Governor’s EMS Award for Outstanding EMS Prehospital Educator – Daryl Clements, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Fire and Emergency Services
  • The Governor’s EMS Award for Outstanding EMS Prehospital Provider – Samuel Neglia, Sterling Volunteer Rescue Squad
  • The Governor’s EMS Award for Outstanding Contribution to EMS Health and Safety – Jonathan Smith, Putting a Dent in Mental Health
  • The Governor’s EMS Award for Outstanding Contribution to EMS for Children – Chesapeake Fire Department
  • The Governor’s EMS Award for Outstanding EMS Agency – Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Fire and Emergency Services
  • The Governor’s EMS Award for Outstanding Contribution to EMS Telecommunication – John Korman, Fairfax County Department of Public Safety Communications
  • The Governor’s EMS Award for Outstanding Contribution to EMS Emergency Preparedness and Response – Stafford County Fire and Rescue Department
  • The Governor’s EMS Award for Innovation Excellence in EMS – Peninsula COVID-19 Operations Center

Kingsley-Varble had words of advice to those who continue to work the frontlines during the pandemic.

“Just keep up the good fight,” she said. “I hope we’re on the downhill side of the pandemic. I hope we keep doing as we should — keep wearing the masks, keep with the vaccinations and such if that’s your choice.

“Hopefully, we can get through this [pandemic] and get past it and move on to the next issue and just keep fighting the good fight.”

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