It isn’t often that the men and women who serve and help protect our communities receive recognition for all they do to keep us safe, assist us when ill or injured, or place themselves in harm’s way when the lives of others are at stake.  This is the 14th year Rotary Clubs throughout Southern Nevada have proudly recognized individuals within their communities who serve and protect every day.

From left to right are K9 Officer Quinn Averett, Rotary President Keith Buchhalter and Firefighter/EMT Ryan Thornton. Courtesy photo.

From left to right are K9 Officer Quinn Averett, Rotary President Keith Buchhalter and Firefighter/EMT Ryan Thornton. Courtesy photo.

On August 31, members from both the Mesquite Noon and Sunrise Rotary Clubs traveled to Las Vegas to recognize two of our outstanding public servants at this year’s SOAR Awards Ceremony.

K9 Officer Quinn Averett has been a police officer for 13 years. Maybe the face is not familiar to you, but the story of why he was recognized will be.  Last December, Officer Averett had just finished his shift when an emergency 911 call came in from the Green Valley Grocery of a child in distress.

Officer Averett was less than a block away when he responded to find a small child choking on a piece of hard candy.  After working on the child for a short period of time, Averett successfully dislodged the candy from the child’s airway before the 3-year old was transported by paramedics who responded. As Police Chief Troy Tanner stated, “Officer Averett’s heroic measures and the gripping surveillance recording were broadcasted nationwide showing that law enforcement officers ARE heroes.”

Mesquite Fire and Rescue nominated Ryan Thornton as this year’s SOAR Recipient.  Thornton has been a member of the department since 1998 and as a senior firefighter, he serves as the acting captain when needed.  It was in this capacity one year ago that Ryan was recognized and presented with this year’s award.

There was a 6 member crew on this particular day with two members transporting a patient to Las Vegas when a call came in of a working structure fire.  Thornton put out an “all call” of off duty personnel to respond as well as asking for assistance from neighboring cities.

He then directed an action plan as required while maintaining command of the incident.  “The role of Incident Commander is a job that requires full concentration, comprehensive knowledge of fighting fire, and solid leadership skills,” noted Fire Chief Christopher.  “Ryan portrayed all of these qualities while performing the necessary duties of that role and the role of firefighter.”

Officers throughout Southern Nevada are recognized for their dedication and commitment to their communities and the people they serve.  In addition to the Mesquite recipients, individuals from the US Marshals Service, US Forest Service, US Air Force-Nellis, City of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City, Las Vegas Division of the FBI, Nevada Highway Patrol, Clark County School District Police Dept. and Office of the Attorney General were also recognized.

Rotary Club president Keith Buchhalter stated, “We are thankful for both recipients of the 2015 SOAR Award.  You both are great assets to our community.  Your service and dedication were rightfully recognized this morning! Congratulations K9 Officer Averett and Firefighter/EMT Ryan Thornton!”  Thank you for all you do!