Pōhakuloa Training Area first responders honored for supporting Big Island community

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First responders at U.S. Army Garrison Pōhakuloa Training Area were among a group, which included several Hawai’i County volunteer agencies, recently honored for their support of the Big Island community.

One of many thank you cards given to first responders during the Waimea Community Association annual Mahalo to First Responders event Nov. 16. Photo By Amy Phillips.

They were recognized during the Waimea Community Association’s annual Mahalo to First Responders event Nov. 16 at Kahilu Town Hall in Waimea. The first responders and other agencies honored were also presented with Certificates of Appreciation and bags of thank you notes from Waimea students.

“We are grateful to be able to host this in-person this year, after two years of a virtual mahalo,” said Nancy Carr Smith, secretary of Waimea Community Association and coordinator of the Mahalo to First Responders event. “It was important to come together in person and acknowledge these great community contributors face to face.”

Pōhakuloa Training Area provides emergency support within a 500-square-mile radius in the Saddle Road region and is often the first to arrive on scene for incidents on Daniel K. Inouye Highway. So far this year, the Pōhakuloa Training Area Fire Department has responded to 121 emergency calls, including lost hikers, wildland fires, vehicle accidents and injured people. It also won the 2021 Small Fire Department of the Year award during the U.S. Army Installation Management Command-Pacific’s competition.


“Our [Pōhakuloa Training Area] Fire and Emergency Services team does incredible work,” said Pōhakuloa Training Area Commander Lt. Col. Kevin Cronin. “We’re also proud to support the public through mutual aid agreements with County agencies to respond to emergencies off of [Pōhakuloa Training Area].”

Cronin, Pōhakuloa Training Area Fire Chief Travis Stewart and Assistant Fire Chief Karl Hopkins, firefighter Lothian Brown and police officer Sgt. Lance Stevens, along with their families, attended the mahalo event in Waimea.

“Mutual aid agreements are a force multiplier, allowing [Pōhakuloa Training Area] and Hawai’i County to bolster each others’ capabilities while minimizing service overlaps in a lean budget environment,” said Pōhakuloa Training Area Assistant Chief Gregory Simon.



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