Volunteers of the Year

Montana DPHHS recognizes Hobson’s Bernard and Martie Taylor
Thursday, September 3, 2020
Volunteers of the Year

Bernard and Martie Taylor (center) were presented with Montana’s 2020 EMS Provider of the Year Award on Tuesday in Hobson, while supported by their crew, including (from left) Fire Cadet Taten Erickson, Firefighter Cody Swanson, Fire Board Chairman Jason Loose, Fire Board Member Lew Swanson, Fire Cadet Connor Loose, the Taylors, Fire Chief Tater Erickson, Judith Basin County EMS Coordinator Suz Aune, Firefighter Nate Carr (behind Suz), Firefighter and EMT Heather Brown, and Firefighter Craig Herrin. Photo by Melody Montgomery

Volunteers of the Year

Bernard and Martie have been on emergency calls for over 40 years. They were married in June of 1974 and took their first emergency medical technician class that December in order to get enough EMTs trained so that the county could get an ambulance. They are shown here with Fire Chief Tater Erickson, who presented Hobson Rural Fire with a COVID-19 relief donation of $500. Photo by Melody Montgomery

The Department of Health and Human Services has awarded Bernard and Martie Taylor of Hobson the 2020 EMS Volunteer Provider of the Year Award for their years of responding to emergencies, educating their communities on CPR and first aid, and improving emergency care in Montana.

DPHHS began this award program in 2015. Earlier in 2020, DPHHS asked for nominations from EMS workers across the state, and the Taylors were one of the six few selected. They will also receive a plaque from the DPHHS in the coming weeks.

“The services these individuals provide has the potential to impact us all,” said DPHHS Director Sheila Hogan. “Emergencies are unpredictable, but when these situations occur, it’s reassuring to know that EMS is there.”

The Taylors were presented with the award locally by Hobson Fire Chief Tater Erickson on Tuesday, Aug. 31, surrounded by fellow emergency responders.

Erickson also presented Hobson Rural Fire with a $500 COVID-19 relief donation from Erickson Insurance and Farmers Union Insurance of Montana.

Prior to this, Governor Steve Bullock issued this congratulatory video message to all those being honored this year.

“Congratulations to those EMS workers being recognized this year for exceptional service to their communities,” Governor Bullock said. “I thank you for your tireless dedication. You are truly making a difference in Montana.”

A larger recognition ceremony had been planned in Hobson for the Taylors, as well as an even larger ceremony by the DHPPS to honor award recipients across the state. However, due to COVID-19, the Hobson EMS crew opted for a very brief outdoor event to honor the Taylors, a couple who has done so much for their community and county.

The Taylors recently partially retired after more than 40 years of service with the Hobson Fire Department and Judith Basin Emergency Medical Services. The community-minded couple has saved more lives than one could imagine.

Bernard and Martie were married in June of 1974. They took their first EMT class that December.

In the following years, they not only responded to countless kinds of emergency situations, they also led fundraising efforts for ambulances and fire trucks. Additionally, they taught CPR, first aid and EMT classes to others in their community.

“We ran the whole gamut,” the couple said. “We did not charge for these classes. We did it for the health of the community.”

Dan and Marilyn Deichmann said in the DPHHS’s recognition, “Both deserve this award for their lifetime of service to the Hobson-Buffalo-Moccasin-Utica-Straw-Windham areas and indeed the whole of Judith Basin County EMS services.”

John L. Tripp, D.D.S., of Billings commended the Taylors for their 40 years of service.

“For the average person on the street, it probably did not seem like much of an effort or imposition for someone to do the things that are required to establish, train, maintain, and operate a firefighting and ambulance service,” Tripp said. “There is a great deal that must go on before the doors of the fire/ambulance hall doors swing open and the vehicles leave to provide professional service for the community. However, many hours of study, training others, planning, and maintaining equipment must be completed before one wheel is turned. Much of this was done by the Taylors for 40 years with little or no acknowledgment.”

The Taylors are still active on the Fire Board but found it was time for Bernard to step down as chief.

In addition to 40 years of service in EMS, Bernard served as Fire Chief of Hobson for at least 30 years. He also helped Judith Basin Search and Rescue since 1975. He’s worked on some of the largest fires in the county, such as the Turkey Fire in 1988 that burned 52,000 acres and took 11 hours to put out, with wind gusts clocking 104 mph.

Bernard’s experience fighting fire started even before training in Windham – it started in boot camp in San Diego. He served four years in the Navy, and his hearing was damaged in Guantanamo. He returned to a quieter place in 1972, heading back to his hometown of Windham and marrying Martie.

In 1984, the couple moved to Hobson. Bernard was also Post Master in Hobson for 30 years, from 1984 – 2003.

The Hobson Fire Dept. needed a clerk, and Martie rose to the call. The Fire Hall in Hobson is largely attributable to the Taylors and their hard work maintaining and expanding the structure, including a 36 x 72 foot addition, for which the couple was able to round up all volunteer labor.

“The knowledge passed down from Bernard and Martie has had a hand in helping each and every one of the current EMTs be able to save lives,” Fire Chief Erickson told the Judith Basin Press. “Their experiences have also increased knowledge and helped tragedy be averted, like rumble strips on the highway saving future lives.”

Additional individuals Honored

Emergency medical care personnel from Helena, Bozeman and Malta also received 2020 awards, including 911 Dispatcher of the Year Coleen Kautt of the Phillips County Sheriff’s Department in Malta, EMS Career Provider of the Year David Webster, Paramedic of the St. Peters Ambulance Service in Helena, EMS Supporter of the Year Katie Boyce in Bozeman, and (EMS Agency of the Year - Phillips County Ambulance Service in Malta.

Background - Rural Fire and Emergency Response in Judith Basin

There are two main rural fire districts in Judith Basin – Judith Basin Rural Fire District and Hobson Rural Fire District. Moccasin falls under Hobson’s District. The Hobson Fire District was formed in 1952. It covers 860 square miles of ground.

Under these two districts, there are individual fire companies as well, for which in Judith Basin Rural Fire District include Raynesford, Geyser, Windham and Stanford. Hobson’s Fire District is under the Hobson Rural Fire Department. Steve Hedstrom is the Judith Basin Fire Warden, and Bernard Taylor is Deputy Warden for Judith Basin.

Response process and mutual aid

All 911 calls go to Central Montana Dispatch at the Lewistown Police Dept., and then the appropriate department is paged. Volunteers receive pages from their pagers or cell phones. The fire chief or first truck on scene determines whether there is a need to call in other departments and entities. The fire departments have mutual aid agreements with the surrounding areas, such as nearby communities like Moore and Judith Gap, in addition to areas further away. The mutual aid agreements involve assistance to 13-plus counties, as well as the Air force, Forest Service and DNRC.