Tommy R. Oyler recently received the President’s Call to Service Award, a national honor that recognizes an individual’s outstanding contributions to serve their community by volunteering over 4,000 hours during his or her lifetime. Over the past eight years, Oyler has selflessly donated his time and talents to help the Jennings Fire Department (JFD) in Oklahoma with essential, non-emergency activities, allowing firefighters and emergency medical personnel to focus on emergency response activities. He registered the JFD community volunteer program with Fire Corps in 2006 and has continued to expand the program since.

Oyler and other members of the Fire Corps program help the department with administration, grant writing, life safety education, providing refreshments at long incidents, traffic control, vehicle maintenance, and more. He acts as the department’s photographer at emergency scenes and submits his work to local papers, which credit the department for its efforts to protect the Jennings community. His photography skills have led to many front page stories, and his pictures have been submitted in state competitions and utilized on Channel 6 news in Tulsa.

Known for his innovative ideas, Oyler helps coordinate fundraising auctions to raise money for the department and works with various agencies to obtain smoke alarms for the hearing impaired and those with disabilities. He also acts as a local guide for emergency medical units. With ambulances coming from communities more than 11 miles away, Oyler was one of the first in the county to help direct and lead them to emergency scenes. Now units request a guide at all rural area emergencies, helping to save precious minutes when arriving on scene.

Oklahoma recently experienced a severe ice storm which left Jennings and surrounding communities without power for almost a week. During this time, the JFD, Oyler, and other Fire Corps members set up a generator and water supply for the town. They opened the department as a shelter to residents in need and worked with the Red Cross to provide food, blankets, cots, and paper supplies during the crisis. Throughout the week, the department averaged 100 people per meal in a town of 400. The JFD is currently providing information learned from the ice storm as a case study that area communities can use to develop their own action plans should in the event they experience a similar situation.

Oyler has been a valuable asset to the Jennings Fire Department and was recognized with a citizen volunteer award from the department in 2004 and 2005. His passion for the fire service has recently led him to join the department as a firefighter. A back surgery from six years ago had previously prevented him from serving in this role, but with support from department members, vigorous training, and continuous involvement in department’s Fire Corps program and activities on and off the scene, he has now achieved this position. Within two weeks of becoming a firefighter, Oyler went on his first call and safely and effectively extinguished a car fire. He is also scheduled to train to become a structural/wildland firefighter.

As JFD’s Fire Corps Program Coordinator and now certified firefighter, Oyler continues to provide invaluable services to his community. “Our department’s firefighters and non-emergency volunteers work extremely hard to ensure that Jennings residents live in a safe and secure area,” Oyler said. “It’s a privilege to be part of that team and help in any and every way possible.”

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