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First Responders

Photos: Good Friday blessing of first responders outside City Hall

By Howard B. Owens

In a service conducted by pastors Roula Alkhouri, Batavia First Presbyterian Church, and Jim Renfrew, Byron Presbyterian Church, first responders, and health care workers received a Good Friday blessing outside City Hall.

There were representatives from Batavia PD, City Fire, UMMC, and the Genesee County Health Department at the service.

Both Alkhouri and Renfrew reminded those in attendance of the example set by serving others first.

As part of the service, the agencies received certificates of appreciation as well as a basket of sweets.

'Field of Thanks' June 6-13 outside St. James church will display U.S. flags honoring local heroes

By Press Release

Submitted photo and press release:

An independant “Field of Thanks” team of Genesee County volunteers is dedicating the week of June 6 through 13 to people and organizations -- both civilian and military -- that have served their community and country this past year during the coronavirus pandemic.

The "Field of Thanks" is made possible through the organizational efforts of Phyllis Draycott, the planning team, and the patronage of area businesses, service organizations, and individuals through purchase of $50 flag packages in support of designated civilian and military "heroes."

The result will be a no-cost, self-guided tour of 67 U.S. flags on display daily from 1 to 6 p.m. that week on the grounds of St. James Episcopal Church, 405 E. Main St., Batavia.

Each flag will be accompanied by a plaque depicting the story of an essential worker, law enforcement officer, other first responders, and armed forces' members.

Visitors during those hours will also be able to stop by a staffed information table where a map will help them find familiar names of locals from World War I through present. 

There will be two ceremonies. The Opening Ceremony is Sunday, June 6th at 1 p.m. and will feature a flag dedication and remarks by Assemblyman Steve Hawley and William Joyce, director of the county's Veterans Service Organization. The Closing Ceremony is Sunday, June 13th at 5 p.m. and will honor heroes in attendance and feature patron flag presentations and a flag retreat assisted by members of the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office.

Updated COVID-19 restrictions will be observed.

Net proceeds will be divided between two nonprofits: WNY Heroes and Meals on Wheels.

Photo: Maureen Scoville, Rose Rumery, organizer Phyllis Draycott, Joanne Fleming, Donna Kauffman and Joan Ellison examine a sample plaque and flag setup for the "Field of Thanks."

First responders salute healthcare workers

By James Burns

The Batavia Fire Department, Mercy EMS, Batavia Police, State Police and Genesee County Sheriff's Office, took a few parade laps around United Memorial Medical Center to thank healthcare workers for taking care of all of us during the COVID-19 crisis.

Healthcare workers came outside to see the tribute and express gratitude for the salute and also to thank first responders for supporting their community.

Le Roy medics grateful to Max Pies Furniture for donation of mattresses

By Billie Owens

Submitted photos and press release:

Sleep can be a rare commodity for first responders, especially during this unprecedented time in our country. When Le Roy Ambulance Service needed new mattresses, a local business stepped up.

Le Roy Ambulance would like to extend their deepest gratitude to Max Pies Furniture in Batavia for donating two high-quality twin mattress sets to help ensure that their first responders have a comfortable place to rest.

“We can be very busy, and there are some nights when we only get a couple of hours sleep,” Le Roy Ambulance’s Deputy Chief Chris Scopano said. “Their donation will help ensure that those few precious hours are spent on comfortable mattresses.”

Le Roy Ambulance responds to calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

“We are beyond thankful for people like Steve Pies and his family for all of their support,” Scopano said. “Their donation shows that they really care about the first responders who are working hard to protect and serve our communities.”

GC Fire Training Center offers training programs this spring for first responders, and one for the public

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Described by some as one of the “hidden gems” of Genesee County, the Genesee County Fire Training Center will be the venue for several up-coming training programs designed for first responders.

The state-of-the-art facility is located at 7690 State Street Road in Batavia.

The Genesee County Office of Emergency Management staff member and training technician Gary Patnode, in conjunction with NYS Office of Fire Prevention and Control, work together to offer programs that will enable firefighters the opportunity to develop, refresh and expand on their skills.

Through participation in training programs, students are presented the knowledge and skills to become confident, effective and efficient first responders ensuring their safety and the community they serve.

To register, contact the Genesee County Fire Training Center at 585-344-0078 or Visit your local fire department to find out about volunteer opportunities.

The training programs listed below are scheduled to be held at the Genesee County Fire Training Center this spring.

Course Description / Dates / Times / Designed for; Prerequisite(s):

  • Fire Officers Workshop -- March 16 -- 6 - 10 p.m. / All Department Officers
  • HazMat  First Responder Ops – Annual Refresher* -- March 30 -- 6 - 10 p.m. / Prerequisites Required
  • SKYWARN Training (National Weather Service) -- March 30 -- 7 - 9 p.m. / Open to the Public
  • Emergency Vehicle Driver Training -- April 18 & 19 -- Visit GCOEM website for times / Emergency Vehicle Operator
  • Firefighter II -- Begins April 1 -- Visit GCOEM website for times / Prerequisites Required
  • Basic Incident Command System for Initial Response (I-200) -- April 22-23 -- 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. / IS-11C
  • ICS for Major and/or Complex Incidents (I-400) -- March 12-13 -- 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. / ICS-300
  • Principles Instruction -- Begins April 14 -- Visit GCOEM website for times / Fire Service TrainingOfficers & Company Officers
  • Rope Rescue – Technician Level II -- April 25 & 26, and May 2 & 3 -- 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. / Rope Rescue – Tech Level I
  • Fire Investigation for the Line Officer -- May 12 & 14 -- 6:30 - 9:30 p.m. / Fire Officers, Members in Charge, or Aspiring to Be
  • Group Home & Disability Awareness for the Fire Service -- May 11 -- 7 - 10 p.m. / Fire Service Personnel, Code Enforcement Officials, EMTs

Nineteen GC firefighters completed vehicle rescue training in June

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Nineteen firefighters from Genesee County completed an 18-hour Vehicle Rescue: Operations Level training program held over five nights in June; concluding on June 27.

Operations level requires the rescuer to enter the hot zone and perform the rescue in normal-type passenger vehicles.

Student who successful completed the program are able: to demonstrate the ability to perform a situational assessment of the accident scene; to determine what support services, if any, are needed and to determine the effective application of tools, equipment and personnel; recognize existing and/or potential hazards and take appropriate steps to control the same; gain access to the entrapped patient(s); provide for patient assessment and any necessary emergency medical care; assess and perform disentanglement of the patients so as to facilitate patient care, patient packaging and extrication; provide for patient packaging and removal; and assess for and perform patient extrication from the damaged vehicle.  

Participants included:


  • Ryan M. Thompson


  • Bryan A. Moscicki
  • Ian A. Sanfratello
  • Tyler J. Stewart


  • Jacob Stiles


  • Joe T. Marino


  • Matthew N. Allen 
  • Samantha M. Cavalieri


  • Michael J. Pfendler


  • Jared Chick
  • James D. King 
  • Stephany McVicker


  • Nichole Boldt
  • Chase Cone
  • Andrew L. Konieczny
  • Vito Muoio


  • Mark Dougherty 
  • Matt Hendershott
  • Ashley Swartzenberg

Visit your local fire department to find out more about volunteer opportunities.

Starting today, active first responders with service ID get 25-percent discount at Batavia Downs' restaurants

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Representatives from Batavia Downs today announced a new program that will provide a 25-percent discount to active first responders at Batavia Downs Restaurants.

This includes local, county and state police, volunteer and paid firefighters, and ambulance service providers, paramedics/EMTs, and correctional officers.

Discounts will be valid on food and soft drinks but will not include alcohol.

Active first responders must show their service ID card to receive the discount for them and one guest. The discount program is available starting today.

“We are so pleased to be able to extend this offer to first responders in our area,” said Scott Kiedrowski, vice president of Operations at Batavia Downs, who also oversees the Food & Beverage Department.

“We value their contributions to our communities in keeping us safe and healthy. This discount is a token of our gratitude."

Attention All: City wants YOU to show up and pay respects at Memorial Day Parade -- vets, groups welcome to be in it

By Billie Owens

An invitation from Bob Bialkowski, Batavia City councilman at large:

This is an invitation to all members of the community to participate in this year’s Batavia Memorial Day parade on Memorial Day Monday May 27th.

The City of Batavia is sponsoring the parade and we are looking forward to another great turnout.

The parade will kick off at 9:45 a.m from the Eastown Plaza on East Main Street and end at the Alva Place parking lot downtown. People can then attend the Veterans Memorial Service at the Memorial site across the street at the Jerome Center.

Any veterans wishing to participate in the parade can just show up at 9:15. Veterans needing a ride in the parade please contact me.

Any groups wishing to participate please let us know as all are welcome. Please keep the theme of respect to all our veteran and first responders.

Let’s show our support to our veterans and first responders! Bring your lawn chairs and enjoy our annual parade.

Thank you,

Bob Bialkowski

585 409-3624

Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative launches on Tuesday, more help for those who are struggling

By Billie Owens

Press release:

As the opioid epidemic continues to distress our community, local agencies are coming together to offer more services to those in need.

“Last fall, 24 counties in New York State, including Genesee, that are deemed ‘opioid burdened’ received funds from the CDC and New York State Department of Health to take local action to address the epidemic,” said Paul Pettit, Public Health director for Genesee and Orleans counties.

“After looking at our current services and speaking with local partners we wanted to launch an innovative program we learned about a few months earlier during a GOW Opioid Task Force meeting where Police Chief Volkman from Chatham spoke about the Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative, more easily known as PAARI (pronounced PARR-REE).

"Using the funding to bring the successful approach of this program from Chatham into Genesee, will allow those who want to get into substance use treatment a 24/7 opportunity by going to one of the partnering first-responder agencies for help.”

The PAARI program will launch locally on Tuesday, April 23rd.

It will allow anyone who wants help with their addiction to walk into any police station or the city fire station and get the help they need. The program is supported by City of Batavia Police, City of Batavia Fire Department, Le Roy Police, and Genesee County Sheriff’s Office.

“The funds will help pay for overtime that will likely be incurred by staff of Public Safety agencies, as well as help pay for peer recovery coaches from Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (GCASA) that will be contacted once a person seeking treatment walks through the door," Pettit said.

"GCASA is an equally important partner in this, as they have hired the peer recovery coaches, who have been trained in providing services in the community early after receiving these funds.

"The peers will work with each individual and identify where they can go for the proper services,regardless of if it’s local or not, and make sure they get there. Ultimately, being a support in that moment and in the future, too. This program highlights the commitment and collaboration of our community partners to help address this crisis.”

GC Sheriff William A. Sheron Jr. agrees with Pettit regarding the collaboration of our first responders and the commitment to help address the opioid epidemic.

“This is a good collaboration between police, fire and the public," Sheron said. "I fully support the program and hope it will help people get the treatment services they need.”

For more information or for immediate help, please call GCASA’s peer services hotline at (585) 815-1800.

Photos: Christmas tribute to first responders

By Howard B. Owens

This is our annual look back at photos from the year of our first responders. We thank our first responders for all they do to make our community better and safer.

Merry Christmas to all.

Photos: A tribute to Genesee County's first responders

By Howard B. Owens

Today, as we've done for the past five years, we pay tribute to the first responders who put their lives at risk every day to help keep us all safe.  Here is a slideshow of photos from throughout 2017 of first responders on the job, providing community service and in training.

Local first responders played in debut Buffalo tournament

By Billie Owens

Submitted photo and press release:

A mixed group of local First Responders participated in the premiere Police and Fire Hockey Tournament last Friday and Saturday at the Harborcenter in Downtown Buffalo.

The event featured 12 teams composed of police officers and firefighters. Participating organizations included Buffalo police, Buffalo fire, Niagara Falls police, Niagara Falls fire, Niagara County Sheriff's deputies, Town of Tonawanda police, Genesee County Sheriffs deputies, Batavia police, Batavia fire, Lackawanna police, Lackawanna fire, NY State Department of Corrections, and Hamilton (ON) fire.

Team members included: front, (from left) Dave Tran -- Town of Batavia Fire Department; Kevin Czora -- Batavia Police Department; Ryan Whitcombe -- City of Batavia Fire Department; Pete Welker -- Genesee County Sheriff's Department; Back (L-R) Stephen Cronmiller -- Batavia Police Department; James Diehl -- Genesee County Sheriff's Department; Matt Lutey -- Batavia Police Department; Jeff Whitcombe -- City of Batavia Fire Department; C.J. Lindsay -- Batavia Police Department; Arick Perkins -- Batavia Police Department; Russ Borden -- Town of Batavia Fire Department; Paul Dibble -- Town of Batavia Fire Department; Connor Wilkes -- Town of Batavia Fire Department; and Dan Coffey -- Batavia Police Department/CBFD.

Free first responder workshop offered on trauma, PTSD & suicide prevention, register by May 3

By Billie Owens

A free, first responder awareness workshop on trauma, PTSD and suicide prevention will be offered at the Genesee County Fire Training Center on Tuesday, May 10.

Two sessions are available: 2:30 to 5 p.m. or 6 to 8:30 p.m. The fire training center is located at 7690 State Street Road in Batavia.

Seating is limited. Please register by May 3.

The workshop will be presented by Cattaraugus County Sheriff Timothy S. Whitcomb.

Sheriff Whitcomb has been in law enforcement for 26 years. He is a former adjunct professor of Criminal Justice for Jamestown Community College and St. Bonaventure University. Presently, he instructs through local academies and the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services. He has a master's degree in Counseling Education and is a certified police instrutor in the areas of Interview and Interrogation, Basix and Advanced Juvenile Officer Training, Investigation of Sex Crimes and Law Enforcement Response to School Violence.

For more information or to register, contact the sponsoring organization -- the Mental Health Association of Genesee and Orleans Counties at 344-2611 or via e-mail at

The workshop is being offered in partnership with the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Genesee County in conjunction with the Genesee County Sheriff's Office and Genesee County Emergency Services.

Photos: Tribute to First Responders 2015

By Howard B. Owens

This slide show is a collection of some of the photos from 2015 of the fires, accidents, ceremonies and other events involving our first responders in 2015.

It was a year in which law enforcement responded to at least three incidents where officers' calm professionalism, despite the looming risk to their own safety, avoided rash action and prevented the situation from getting worse.

This year, we tragically lost a volunteer in the line of duty, and another had his life threatened, plus whether volunteers or paid personnel, these professionals have sacrificed time away from family, businesses and jobs to respond to both the routine and the difficult calls and they put in countless hours training.

We thank our first responders for keeping us safe and responding when we need them.

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