Cape firefighter culls top honor
Of the numerous first responders in the city of Cape Coral, the Moose Lodge has the difficult task of picking one who stands out above the rest.
This year, Cape Coral Fire Chief Donald Cochran and the Moose Lodge, Cape Coral No. 2199, recognized a man who gave a Cape Coral mother the gift of saving the lives of two of her small children and then giving Christmas gifts to her family.
The lodge named Lt. Kevin Haines as the Florida Bermuda Moose Association District No. 25 Firefighter of the Year. Haines was named over three other worthy nominees in a ceremony Tuesday at the lodge.
Haines becomes one of 28 first responders throughout the state eligible to be named Law Enforcement Officer/Firefighter/ Paramedic of the Year by the Moose in September at their state convention in Orlando.
“Kevin has always tried to go the extra mile. He’s not satisfied with mediocrity. That is not an easy job, so he always looks for the good,” Cochran said. “He always looks for a positive outcome even when the situation is difficult.”
The award is part of the Cape Coral Moose Lodge Home Town Hero program, a community service project sponsored by the Cape Coral Moose Lodge, created in support of the Florida Bermuda Moose Association’s annual Valor Program, which was started last year.
“The local lodges take nominees from the local law enforcement, firefighters and paramedics for people who have done exceptional things in their line of duty,” said Greg Weichert, administrator of the program.
Every year, one local law enforcement officer, firefighter, or paramedic is honored for exceptional action in their field that is considered above and beyond the call of duty.
In March, Haines, who was officer in charge of Squad 8, was chosen ahead of four other nominees by the lodge as its honoree for his work in a Dec. 15, 2014 vehicle accident where he rescued two young children, Chaylen Garcia, 8, and her sister Emerie, 5.
Both were seriously injured after the van driven by their mother, Jessica Shipley was broadsided by a pickup truck that ran a stop sign at the corner of El Dorado Boulevard and Embers Parkway West.
Chaylen suffered a lacerated liver, broken clavicle, broken ribs, facial lacerations and a concussion and was sent to Lee Memorial Hospital before being airlifted to Tampa General.
Moments later, Emerie started to complain of abdominal pain. Haines and a paramedic determined the potential existed for another pediatric trauma alert and brought her to the hospital.
To top it off, Haines and the responders gave the family Christmas presents upon learning the children were going to be okay.
It is gestures like this that Cochran said puts his department above the rest.
“The real customer service and personal reward comes in when they do the extra things. We had the issue of finding out what was wrong with the girls, then was the follow-through,” Cochran said. “When people’s houses burn down, we get crews who put money together to buy Christmas presents. It goes along those lines. It’s that above and beyond the call.”
Haines was chosen on Tuesday over nominees from the three other lodges in the district in downtown Cape Coral (Caloosahatchee), Fort Myers Beach and Pine Island.
Haines was given a plaque and free membership Moose Lodge membership, Weichert said.
Weichert said Haines was loath to seek any recognition for his work, saying it was his job.
“He’s a very humble man. He doesn’t like the notoriety and said many times that he was just doing his job,” Weichert said. “People have told me what a great guy he is and that there’s no better humanitarian or firefighter.”
“If you ask Kevin, he’s going to say he did nothing special. This is who these people are,” Cochran said. “They say it’s part of their job, but really, it’s not. They feel that need and take ownership in the town and that’s why they do it.”
Haines was not available for comment at press time.