SUNCOAST (WSNN) - Congressman Vern Buchanan has been very busy this week, and he spent Thursday thanking other very busy, and heroic, people here on the Suncoast.

Congressman Buchanan announced the winners of the eighth annual 16th Congressional District Fire and Rescue and EMS Awards. He established the awards to give special recognition to local first responders who have provided distinguished service to his constituents. 

Buchanan presented awards to the following winners, who were selected this year by an independent committee comprised of a cross-section of current and retired fire and rescue personnel living in the district during a special ceremony in Manatee County: 

  • The Manatee County Department of Public Safety’s Ambulance Strike Team 601 received the Unit Citation Award. Ambulance Strike Team-601 is comprised of Mark Regis, Richard Johnson, Erwin Evelyne, William Cheek, Nick Horvath, Beth Harmount, Earl Kulpa, Dominick Reale, and Justin Woods. 
  • Captain Thomas ‘Mike’ Bloski of Southern Manatee Fire District received the Dedication and Professionalism Award.
  • Don O’Leary, a retired East Manatee Fire Rescue Commissioner, received the Career Service Award. 
  • Lieutenant Ryan Anusbigian of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue received the Dedication and Professionalism Award. 
  • Deputy Tyler Ackerman, Deputy Timothy Collins and Deputy Brian Hart of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office received the Preservation of Life - Associate Service Award. 

Congratulations to these recipients, and a huge thank you to all of the First Responders here on the Suncoast for your efforts on a daily basis.