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Karpiak named Firefighter of the Year


Deputy Chief Ernest Karpiak was the recipient of the 2018 Jack Carey Memorial Firefighter of the Year, for going above and beyond the call of duty with Dauphin Fire Department (DFD).
Fire Chief Cameron Abrey explained Karpiak was not able to attend the 2018 Firefighter’s Ball, Nov. 3, where the award is usually presented and a surprise presentation at City Hall was arranged for Oct. 30.
Karpiak was told there was a meeting with the newly elected Mayor and Council, to discuss the operations of DFD.
“It was a huge surprise, I had no idea that, that was going to happen that night,” Karpiak said, adding he fully expected to be at a meeting at City Hall.
“Nor did I think that I would have everyone, my family and my fire department family, come out and present me with that award.”
Just before the meeting was to start, he said, Abrey revealed he was nominated and his family and the fire department were there to share it with him.
“It was very emotional. It meant a lot, it really did,” Karpiak said.
“It actually means a whole lot more to be given to me that way, in front of my peers that actually nominated and voted for me for that award.”
The incident Karpiak was honoured for, Abrey said, was during a work-related dinner in Brandon earlier this year, where one of Karpiak’s co-workers began to choke.
He quickly turned to his training with the fire service, he said, and utilized his skills to clear the airway and calm a situation that could have taken a much different turn of events.
“Well, at the moment when it happened you know, I recognized the situation really quick,” Karpiak said.
“That’s the training that you go through. It’s instinct, because we just know how to recognize things like that and deal with it.”
The incident was not a fire-related situation, he said, it was more of a first aid medical emergency.
Firefighters are trained in standard first aid, Karpiak said, which is a huge asset.
“The more people that have that training, the better it is for society, because it makes people have the tools to assist when needed,” he noted.
“The fire department all take that training, so we can provide that service to our families, our friends, to our neighbours or anyone in need. We go to fires, we respond with fire trucks with all our gear, but sometimes we have situations that we just have to deal with, when the moment comes.”
On the evening nominations were brought to the floor for voting on, Abrey said, Karpiak had stayed home with the flu and did not know he had been nominated.
“When the other firefighters heard of Ernest’s actions, there was no doubt that he was to be nominated for the award,” he added.
Karpiak began with DFD in May 2005, Abrey said, after moving to Dauphin from Pine River, where he was with that fire department from 2000 to 2005 and had spent some time as the Deputy Chief of Pine River Fire Department.
He received the Jack Carey Memorial Firefighter of the Year award once before in 2007, Abrey said, where he was recognized for his efforts in assisting a lone occupant of a vehicle rollover.
Karpiak had been travelling on Highway 10 when the vehicle in front of him left the road, rolled in the ditch and he immediately assisted the driver, staying until the arrival of emergency services.
The father of two admitted it is humbling to receive an award from his peers.
He feels it is motivating to the department and for individuals to get involved with their community.
Karpiak thanked all the individuals who congratulated him.
“The messages that I’ve gotten over the last couple days, they’re just overwhelming with the gratitude that people are showing. And the congratulations to me has just been outstanding, overwhelming. Lots of emotions have gone through, just being proud for providing that service to the community,” he said.
At the annual firefighters ball, Ryan Clyde received a 20-year Governor-General Exemplary Service Medal and Greg Acevedo, Justin Barsewsky, Erin Deederly, Conrad Demeria and Brendan Greening were honoured for the completion of the NFPA Level II Firefighter.

M. A. Nyquist