Shuswap emergency program honors dedicated volunteer Ron Essex – Salmon Arm Observer
Former teacher-librarian Shuswap, emergency program volunteer and amateur radio enthusiast is remembered for his tireless volunteerism.
The Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) and the Shuswap Emergency Program (SEP) pay tribute to the late Ron Essex, considered one of SEP’s most tireless volunteers.
According to a June 1 CSRD press release, Essex had been a dedicated emergency support service volunteer since the Silver Creek fire in 1998 and helped train the SEP. Essex attended their last volunteer meeting just over a week ago.
“Ron always said, ‘I’m here, what can I do to help?’ attitude. You gave him a task and you knew he would do it, ”explains Cathy Semchuk, SEP facilitator.
The CSRD statement noted that Essex was on standby at any time to fulfill any role in an emergency, although he particularly enjoyed his associations with Shuswap Amateur Radio Club, working in logistics and documenting all in photos.
“A self-proclaimed pencil pusher, Essex has always been the team member you could count on to do the paperwork – and get it right,” the statement read.
Already the recipient of multiple awards, in 2017 Essex received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure for Public Safety Volunteerism, recognizing him for his long-standing commitment and service through amateur radio clubs.
In 1993, Essex obtained her basic amateur radio qualification and joined the Shuswap Amateur Radio Club (SARC) and the Salmon Arm Seniors Radio Club.
He retired in 1998 after 35 years of teaching in the public school system, the last 31 years as a teacher-librarian in what was then Shuswap Junior Secondary. About a month later, Emergency Program Coordinator Gordon Pelletier asked SARC to provide assistance in the event of a future emergency. The cry for help came earlier than expected with the Silver Creek fire igniting on Fly Hills on July 29. Throughout the event, Essex did radio work and helped with the public information hotlines.
Essex would provide vital support in emergency responses to several future wildfires.
In 2005, Essex was named Provincial Emergency Program (PEP) Communications Volunteer of the Year. The same year, he received a Special Recognition Certificate from the PEP. In 2014, the Shuswap Amateur Radio Club awarded him a lifetime membership.
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Regional District of Columbia Shuswap