Vinton Fire and EMS Deputy Chief Chris Linkous recognized two of his department’s Firefighter/Paramedics at the Town Council meeting on February 7.
Kelly Stoots was recognized as a replacement for Linkous in the field, allowing Linkous to focus on the administrative aspects of his department without having his job duties split between administrative and field operations.
According to Linkous, Stoots first began volunteering at the Twin Community Fire Department in Pulaski County. He is a second-generation fireman as his father was also a firefighter.
He was a high school athlete and obtained a scholarship to play football at Concord University where he earned his degree in Business Management. After graduating, he continued to volunteer and work various jobs until he became an EMT. He started his EMS career with Carilion Clinic Patient Transport. He then put himself through the Intermediate program and later American National University’s Paramedic program where he earned his National Registry Paramedic certification.
Stoots left Carilion to start his career as a professional firefighter with Roanoke County. He left the county for a while to explore other career paths, working at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital-ER, Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital-OR/Anesthesia, Regional EMS Inc. in Pulaski County, and Lead Mines Rescue.
“His heart led him back to Fire/EMS services,” said Linkous. “Fortunately for us, Kelly applied to the town as a paramedic/firefighter.”
Stoots has earned honors such as twice being named Firefighter of the Year, Employee of the Year (Carilion Clinic Patient Transport Services), and Advanced Life Support Provider of the Year (Lead Mines Rescue Squad).
“Kelly comes to us with great enthusiasm and excitement to continue his love and passion for the Fire and EMS service,” said Linkous.
Linkous next recognized Corey Gee, who spent most of 2016 attending the Jefferson College of Health Sciences to obtain his National Registry Paramedic certification— the highest level of certification in the profession of emergency medical care.
Gee is a long-time member of the Vinton Fire and EMS Department. According to Linkous, Gee started out serving the citizens of Vinton and East Roanoke County as a volunteer in 2001 with the Vinton Fire Department. During his time as a volunteer, he earned awards for the most training hours and the Jimmy Phillips Award for outstanding training.
After two years, he applied for employment for his “dream job” with the Vinton Fire and EMS Department and was hired in November 2002 when he was only 19. When he began working that December, he was the youngest at his profession in the Roanoke Valley.
“Corey quickly fell in love with helping people,” said Linkous. “After providing basic medical care to the citizens for his first five years, Corey knew he wanted to do more for the patients he came in contact with and enrolled in the EMT-1 program in 2007.”
Recently Gee, along with Lt. Larry Whiting, had conversations about wanting to further their medical certification, and obtained their EMT-Paramedic certification through the Jefferson College of Health Sciences.
“With financial help from the town, they embarked on this journey,” said Linkous. “The hundreds of hours of class, clinical, and field hours tested them and their families. Within 10 months they both passed their National Registry EMT-P.
“Congratulations to Corey for his hard work and determination to achieve this certification,” said Linkous. “Also worth mentioning is that Corey is a dedicated employee of over 14 years with the town. He has obtained Fire Instructor 1 and Fire Officer 1 certifications and teaches both Fire and EMS topics.
Gee also serves as president of the Vinton Professional Firefighters and Paramedic Association, which among other services provides free smoke detectors to the public in Vinton and East Roanoke County.