Haiti missions earn top nod for Barrow County firefighter

WINDER -- Exemplary compassion has translated to accolades for one globe-trotting Barrow County firefighter and EMT.

Earlier this month, Dany Menard was named EMT of the Year for Region 10, which includes Barrow, at the 20th annual Northeast Georgia EMS Awards Banquet. In the wake of a devastating earthquake in Haiti, Menard has made three volunteer trips to the embattled nation, where he spent a few of his formative years and where some family members still reside.

"We're proud of Dany's accomplishments," Barrow County Emergency Services Chief Dennis Merrifield said.

After the January 2010 quake, Menard immediately looked for ways to help. He eventually spent a week in Port au Prince, working as a much-needed EMT. During 12 to 16 hours days, Menard worked in a local hospital assisting staff.

The work led to a subsequent Haiti tip. Then another.

"Dany was highlighted by a local television show for his trip to Haiti, and yet did not make it about him," said Lt. Scott Dakin, department spokesman. "He made it about the people of Haiti and the medical care he was able to give to these resilient people."

Menard recently traveled back to Haiti on a different kind of trip, joining a team from River Hills Church on a mission to Port Au Prince, where he "worked tirelessly to do whatever was asked of him and was smiling the entire time," Dakin said.

Menard also volunteers in the Barrow County school system, mentoring at elementary schools.

"He talks with them about his job," Dakin said. "His passion for it is helping to ignite a passion in future EMTs."