Lincoln County Emergency Medical Services recently named local volunteer firefighter Mark Turner the county’s 2013 First-Responder of the Year.
The annual award, which wasn’t handed out last year due to the lack of an EMS luncheon, honors one local first responder, both nominated and voted on by EMS employees.
While Turner wasn’t able to attend this year’s EMS luncheon on Friday, his name was announced before co-workers and other first-responders.
The Crouse volunteer firefighter joined the agency four years ago with a goal to assist those around him. He initially started his career at Howards Creek Volunteer Fire Department.
“I enjoy giving back to my community,” he said. “I enjoy the satisfaction I get for knowing I can make a difference.”
However, with the job comes vivid encounters and even more vivid memories that follow. Turner said he will never forget responding to a large-scale blaze three years ago on the western end of N.C. 150.
Inside the charred home, firefighters uncovered the burned body of resident Dan Mullinax. The scene, now the location of Ruby’s Discount, was deemed a murder site.
“I couldn’t believe that someone would do that to a person,” Turner said.
The investigation remains open with the Sheriff’s Office.
Turner noted the most difficult aspect of first-responder work is the burdensome challenge of saving others’ property or lives, knowing the situation lies in he and fellow firefighters’ hands.
“Running into a burning building as everyone else is running out,” he said.
Despite certain negative stereotypes that label firemen as unintelligent or inhumane, Turner described what he felt was a more accurate depiction of the workers in his field.
“Firemen are not big, stupid ogres,” he said. “We have a heart and we must not let it break in your time of need.”
Crouse firefighters meet and train weekly at the department and frequently take classes at local community colleges, he said.
Above all else, Turner remains passionate about his volunteer job, keeping his heart and mind rooted in selfless service to others.
“It is an honor and privilege to serve my community and county,” he said.