First Responder of the Year

Presented by

Presenting our nominees in the following categories:


law enforcement


Fire Department Nominees

Brad Droege

Assistant Chief - Norwood Young America Fire Department
Nominated by: State Fire Chiefs Association

As a 30+ year member of Region 11 and the MN State Fire Chiefs for over 35 years, Firefighter Droege has been nominated for his long service and commitment to the community and fire safety. He has been the treasurer of the Minnesota Fire Service Foundation for many years, and he is especially passionate about the MN Fallen Firefighter Memorial. He helped raise money for building and furnishing the memorial. He serves at funerals and other events at the memorial.

Brittney Baker

Firefighter/Paramedic for St. Paul
Nominated by: MPFF

Firefighter/EMS Baker was born and raised in Saint Paul to a single mother who raised her children in a challenging environment with few resources, but with a value system that promoted helping others in need. Ms. Baker overcame these early hardships by working her way through St. Paul Fire EMS Academy and then paramedic training. She became the second African American female firefighter hired by the department.

Firefighter/EMS Baker completed programs to earn her Associate of EMS degree, DOT instructor, Fire I, II and Live Burn instructor certifications. She earned a scholarship from the National Association of EMS Physicians to continue her studies toward a bachelor’s degree. She is a recent recipient of the Paul Barratt award for volunteer work in the community—Rondo Days, Juneteenth and many other organizations. She serves as Secretary of St. Paul Firefighter’s United.

As a wife and mother of three, Firefighter/EMS Baker works to set an example in the community about overcoming poverty and adversity.

David Kenworthy

Fire Chief
Nominated by: Dodge Center Fire Dept/Dodge Center Ambulance

Mr. Kenworthy has been nominated for serving as a “pillar for public safety” in Dodge Center. He has served in various roles in the fire department over his 20+ year career, and he currently serves as Fire Chief. He became an EMT and also dedicates his time to the ambulance service.

Mr. Kenworth is recognized for his consistent “gift of giving” throughout his career. He mentors new recruits, is eager to learn new things, adapts to change, and leads by positive example.

Gary Reed

Lake Crystal Firefighter - President of Region 14
Nominated by: State Fire Department Association
Firefighter Reed is nominated for his service in Region 14 as president, and for the work he has done to promote youth fire safety. Recently he worked with the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota to host a Fire Safety Day. Firefighter Reed helped secure funds so an attendance fee was not necessary, and he helped set up and operate the equipment.

Law Enforcement Nominees

Bart Kothman & Cody Eisenshenk

Police Officers - Foley Police Department
Nominated by: Foley Police Department
The officers responded to a MVA in the spring in which a vehicle left the road and went into the river when the driver had a medical emergency. Without regard for their own comfort or possible peril, the officers jumped into the chest-deep frigid water and held the driver’s head above water until rescue arrived to extract the driver.

Sgt. Jean Valere

Police Sgt.
Nominated by: Rochester Police Department
Sgt. Valere recently responded to a domestic call in which the victim was being assaulted. The suspect was holding a gun to the victim’s head. While this encounter was a potentially deadly force situation, Sgt. Valere disarmed the suspect by hand, potentially saving the life of the victim and the suspect.

Officer Ryan Duxbury

Police Officer
Nominated by: Roseville Police Department
In April of 2022, Officer Duxbury responded to a call of a suspect firing a gun at neighbors. The suspect fired at arriving officers, and Officer Duxbury was shot in the face during the standoff, which lasted about one hour and during which about 100 rounds were fired. He is nominated for his bravery in responding to the scene and during the incident, and for his actions which are believed to have helped save other lives that day.

EMS Nominees

Michael Bunker

Mahnomen County Sheriff’s Dept, Mahnomen County Fire Dept, Mahnomen Health Care Ambulance
Nominated by: Mahnomen County Sheriff’s Dept, Mahnomen County Fire Dept, Mahnomen Health Care Ambulance
For over 20 years, Mr. Bunker has served as a paramedic, volunteer firefighter, and deputy sheriff in Mahnomen while he teaches science and serves as an administrator full time at Circle of Life Academy in White Earth. He has been the manager of the ambulance service at the local hospital for most of the past 20+ years, maintaining training and state of the art equipment.

When at the scene of an incident, Mr. Bunker often multi-tasks with all of the above roles (fire, police, EMS): responding in an ambulance, helping to suppress a fire, and providing critical arson investigation observations.

Andrew Torres

Nominated by: Mayo Clinic
Mr. Torres has been nominated for volunteering his time as an EMS professional to participate in reviewing and helping to create EMS guidelines throughout his service area. He teaches EMS guidelines for multiple services, and he is noted as an empathic and skilled care provider.

Bill Hoffer

Nominated by: City of Orr

Mr. Hoffer became a First Responder and then an NREMT after retiring from a 36 year career as a supervisor/mechanic in a private company. He is a certified CPR instructor and Emergency Vehicle Operator Course Instructor and training officer. As a volunteer in a small community, he takes an average of 14% more of total calls annually than other volunteers.

Mr. Hoffer’s wife and son are also EMTs, and the whole family has at times answered cardiac arrest calls. He has saved multiple lives in the community through his persistence and skill. An example was given of Mr. Hoffer leading a team in CPR for over 40 minutes and then checking in on the family at the hospital.

Mr. Hoffer serves the dept by providing building and rig maintenance and addressing mechanical problems.

Dominique Kuechle & Nicholas Engler

Nominated by: Mayo Clinic Ambulance
The paramedic partners were on duty when an act of violence occurred outside the location of their post. The pair rendered life-saving care to a critically injured person even though the scene had not been secured by law enforcement. Their quick actions and care changed the outcome for that person. They are nominated for putting the best interests and care of the victim ahead of their own personal safety.

Join us october 8th for the award ceremony


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*911 dispatchers were not included in this current batch of nominees because they are not under the bylaws of the MN100 club at this time. We are currently considering adding this group.

**All department heads received a request for nominations to provide candidates for this award. The above nominees represents the finalist from that list.



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