Nokomis VFD home to top two
By By Janet Little Cooper
Firefighters put their lives on the line every time they respond to a call. The job carries risk that not only affects the firefighter, but their family and friends as well.
The Atmore area consists of numerous fire departments that operate on a volunteer basis. The volunteers that comprise this group of everyday citizens faces the same dangers encountered by full-time firefighters.
Recently, two Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department firefighters were recognized as the Escambia County Volunteer Firefighter's Association Male and Female Volunteer Firefighter of the Year at the association's annual banquet held at the Brewton YMCA.
Sheila Odom, the only female volunteer with the Nokomis crew, was nominated by her peers for the award due to her dedication to the department.
Odom not only fights fires along side the male volunteers, but she serves as the department's secretary and is instrumental in the department's fundraisers.
"I was shocked about receiving the award," Odom said. "I went to the banquet in jeans and a t-shirt not expecting anything like that to happen. There were other people who had been nominated that had been firefighting for years and years. I have only been in for three years with Nokomis. I really enjoy doing it. I like being able to help the people and our community. The only thing I don't like about volunteering is that no one wants to get involved."
Being involved is not a problem for Odom. She works alongside her husband, Jackey, the Nokomis chief, and her 26-year-old son.
"Being the only female has its ups and downs," Odom said. "But I have a good group of men to work with and they all help me out and look out for me."
Odom has completed HAZMAT (Hazardous Materials ) training and is now attending state firefighter certification classes.
Nokomis VFD assistant chief Chris McGhee was awarded the male volunteer of the year award.
McGhee got involved in volunteer firefighting more than six years ago when his father Gerry McGhee was named fire chief of the Atmore Fire &Rescue Department.
McGhee began volunteering at Atmore and eventually joined forces with the Nokomis VFD as well.
"We are extremely proud of Chris," McGhee's mother Susie McGhee said. "He has put a lot of time and his own personal funding into pursuing further education in fire service, EMT and CPR. He loves it. He is working as a full-time firefighter and EMT in Gulf Shores while he works to complete his state training."
McGhee is also an at-large board member of the Nokomis VFD and assists with writing grants and communications for the department.
He is a CPR instructor, NIMS trainer; state certified volunteer firefighter, HAZMAT tech, fire instructor one, apparatus operator and an EMT-basic.
Both Odom and McGhee are Creek Nation tribal members. McGhee is a member of several firefighter organizations including the National Native Volunteer Firefighters. He has attended some of the organization's workshops, traveling as far as Oklahoma.