Three members of the Pacific area emergency services community received 2012 distinguished service awards at the April 26 Chamber of Commerce dinner banquet.

“The first thing that I try to do, whether working with patients or instructing a class, is to have fun,” said Paramedic Dale Kinnard as he accepted the award, sponsored by The Missourian.

Kinnard a nine-year employee of the Meramec Ambulance District, was chosen by his district to train other EMS workers and the public.

“His passion for EMS is evident, whether he is providing care to those in need or training others,” said Meramec Ambulance District Chief Christine Neal.

“Dale takes it upon himself to seek opportunities to learn and then share them with others in the classroom, the hospital and pre-hospital ambulance setting,” Neal said.

Kinnard is an American Heart Association (AHA) instructor, an instructor in pediatric cardiac life support (ACLS/PALS) and an active member of the state EMS association (MEMSA).

Fire Capt. Gary Graf received a distinguished service award for his role with the Pacific Fire Protection District.

An employee of the district who started part-time in 1989, Capt. Graf earned an EMT license in 1991, Firefighter I certification in 1993, the year he was hired as a full-time firefighter/paramedic and Firefighter II in 1997. In 2004, he was promoted to the position of captain.

Capt. Graf is an expert in all aspects of firefighting. He is a rescue technician, including haz-mat training. He is company training officer, state of Missouri fire service instructor and Fire Officer I.

In May of 2011, Capt. Graf was deployed to Joplin with Strike Team 5 and conducted search and rescue operations for a 72-hour period following the tornado that occurred.

The third first responder recognized for distinguished service was Pacific Police Department Sgt. Rodney Backues.

Sgt. Backues is a member of the police department’s Suburban Emergency Response Team (S.E.R.T.). He was the recipient of the MADD award (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), and is a member of the Pacific Police bicycle unit.

But it is in the field of illegal narcotics investigations and arrests that Sgt. Backues has distinguished himself. He has taken on many investigations that have resulted in felony arrests, mostly in the area of drug violations.

Sgt. Backues also is a veteran who has served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was not present to accept the award because his Marine Corps unit was returning from deployment in Afghanistan to Norfolk, Va., and he wanted to be there to greet them. Police Chief Matt Mansell accepted the award on his behalf.

The distinguished service awards are sponsored each year by The Missourian to honor first responders.