Friday, April 4, 2014

Paul Cerda Receives The Rick Gale Award

Paul Cerda receiving the Rick Gale Award
(Photo credit: National Park Service Fire and Aviation Management)
Congratulations are in order for Paul Cerda, recipient of the second annual Rick Gale Award. Cerda, the superintendent of the National Park Service’s Alpine Interagency Hotshot Crew, is stationed at Rocky Mountain National Park.

The Rick Gale Award recognizes individuals associated with the wildland fire program who encourage and assist others in the accomplishment of personal and professional goals. The late Richard (Rick) T. Gale retired as the Service's deputy chief ranger for fire, aviation, and emergency services. Many former and current employees cite him as an inspirational leader and an important mentor in their own careers.

The fire management staff from Rocky Mountain National Park nominated Cerda for his leadership skills, ability to motivate both those he supervises and those higher in the chain of command, his dedication to employee development, his vision and dedication to the program and his commitment to safety. All of these factors demonstrated his merit for this outstanding award. He is recognized as a leader within the fire and forestry programs both at Rocky Mountain National Park and in the interagency fire community.

Cerda has been a visionary in bringing the low angle rope rescue program not only to the Alpine Interagency Hotshot Crew but to the other hotshot crews within the Rocky Mountain geographic area. This program provides another extraction option in the event a firefighter is injured on the fireline and increases the entire wildland fire community’s capacity to take care of staff in the event of a medical emergency.

Cerda’s work on low angle rope rescue extends beyond the NPS’s federal partners to local resources along Colorado’s Front Range, fostering cooperation within and beyond the NPS.

His leadership in developing employees is widely recognized. The Alpine Interagency Hotshot Crew’s leadership reading program and the crew mentoring program are above and beyond what is commonly seen in the wildland fire community. His crew’s individual development plans and his willingness to provide detail opportunities to Alpine crewmembers has expanded the horizons of the individual, those who fill in behind them, and the entire crew.

It was for these reasons, and many others, that Paul Cerda was recognized. The award was presented at the Intermountain Region’s fire management conference by Colin Campbell, Intermountain Region's deputy director, Chad Fisher, acting program lead for wildland fire operations, and Sarah Fisher, one of Rick’s three daughters.

“I have been very fortunate in my career to have been exposed to so many quality leaders that have made such a positive impact in the development of who I am today," said Cerda. "Receiving this award in my eyes is truly a group effort, the folks who have made the most impacts are not limited to Brit Rosso or Jim Cook, both of whom I watched from afar as a young hotshot, but also to my captains, James and Mark, who support me in all my wild ideas, and my crew members, who drink the Alpine 'Koolaid' each year and strive to be the best for the team and themselves.”

[Submitted by Roberta D'Amico, roberta_d'amico@nps.gov, 208.387.5239]

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This story originally appeared in "The Morning Report" on Tuesday March 25, 2014. Reprinted with permission from National Park Service Fire and Aviation Management.

1 comment:

Traci Weaver said...

Thanks for inspiring us, Paul. Can't think of a more worthy recipient than you.