First responders in Kenton County recognized for heroism

Haley Parnell
Haley is a reporter for LINK nky. Email her at [email protected]

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The Kenton County Fiscal Court recognized first responders this week who were deployed to Western Kentucky in December 2021 to aid those affected by the tornado.

The tornado swept across 11 counties and traveled 165 miles, making it the most catastrophic disaster in the history of Kentucky.

Representative Kim Moser was in attendance alongside Kenton County Emergency Management Director Steve Hensley to honor those first responders with a citation of heroism. 

Hensley said shortly after the tornado hit, they were contacted by the State of Emergency Management Association, asking if we could deploy their Incident Management team members to assist. They left on Dec. 13, three days after disaster struck. 

“An important takeaway on this is these deployments, this is not a holiday, you’re going into a war zone basically, to a disaster zone,” Hensley said. “When these folks are getting ready to deploy, they’re packing their own food, their water, their own sleeping bags, their own costs, the things that they’re going to need to sustain themselves for an extended period of time.” 

Hensley said they are “extremely blessed” to have a dedicated group of people who responded when the call came. 

Hensley said Commissioner Dr. Jon Draud put the idea forward that the first responders should be formally recognized, so he reached out to Representative Moser and Representative Adam Koenig to see what they could do.

“It really is an honor to be able to present some recognition and commendations to our really dedicated public works individuals here with us tonight,” Moser said. “Kenton County should be very, very proud of the dedication and the hard work, the compassion, that we’ve seen from these individuals.”

The citation of heroism stated that these individuals were being recognized and honored for demonstrating “extraordinary courage, compassion, and professional skill” in a critical time of need. They demonstrated “laudable, great bravery, and presence of mind,” which contributed to many citizens’ lives and property being saved.

“The members of the House of Representatives are honored to join with me, Representative Kim Moser and Representative Adam Koenig, in offering sincere commendation and gratitude to these individuals for the effort put forth in this most worthwhile and consequential endeavor. And extending best wishes for continued safety and success in the future,” Moser read from the citation. 

First responders recognized at the meeting:

  • Deputy Chief of Operations Mike Bloemer, Covington Fire Department
  • Public Works Forman Rick Buster, Kenton County Public Works
  • Captain Gary Helton, Kenton County Police Department
  • Chief Andrew Shierberg, Fort Mitchell Police Department
  • Deputy Director Ron Becker, Kenton County Homeland Security Emergency Management
  • Deputy Director Todd Schulkers, Kenton County Homeland Security Emergency Management

“Thank you all for doing that a week before Christmas,” Commissioner Beth Sewell said. “We can’t say enough about the community and all of the wonderful things and just generosity that occurred during those weeks.”

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