O'Fallon VFW honors hard work, dedication of first responders
O’Fallon VFW Post 805 honored an O’Fallon police officer, firefighter and paramedic during a special holiday ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 8 at the post’s home.
Bradley White, a lieutenant with the O’Fallon Fire Department; Tim McClain, a paramedic with O’Fallon EMS; and William Barlock, a detective with the O’Fallon Police Department, were all honored.
“The individuals were nominated by the police and fire chief, per my request,” said Ed Martinez, Post 805 commander. “This is a national VFW program to give these awards. I will submit their package to compete at the state and then possibly the national level.”
The awards are something the post has done for a few years now. Another post tradition has also been to hold a veterans holiday dinner as a way of giving back to those who have served and letting them know they are not forgotten.
“We bring vets from the various assisted living homes,” Martinez said.
This year, the post combined the dinner with the presentation of the awards, with about 120 people in attendance.
“I want to thank all those who served and are serving our country. We have the greatest country on the face of this earth and that’s because of the service you guys have provided us all,” O’Fallon Police Chief Eric Van Hook said.
Bradley White joined the O’Fallon Fire Department in December 2006. His duties include serving as the department’s active station captain for Station No. 3 in Shiloh, as well as the department’s quartermaster, and leading the Explorer program.
As station captain, White routinely serves as incident commander on calls. As quartermaster, he is tasked with upkeep of the department’s current equipment. As the Explorer adviser, he mentors youth thinking of becoming future firefighters.
“I am honored to submit Bradley White for the VFW National Firefighters Public Servant Citation. Brad currently serves as a lieutenant with our department and continues to demonstrate exemplary leadership skills and commitment to not only our department, but the entire community,” O’Fallon Fire Chief Brent Saunders wrote in White’s nomination.
White is also a trained fire investigator, an active member of the St. Clair County Special Emergency Service Technical Rescue Team and MABAS 32 Technical Rescue team.
He was named the department’s Firefighter of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011.
“(H)is list of accomplishments are extensive both within our department and during his time serving our community,” Saunders wrote.
White is currently serving in the Middle East as a special intelligence agent for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), and was unable to attend the event, according to Saunders.
“He has a lot of leadership skills. In addition to his lieutenant status, he is also captain of our station out of Shiloh, which means he makes sure that’s maintained and is in charge of all the firefighters there. He is their first point of contact,” Saunders said.
Serving in a lot of different areas, and overseas more than once, Saunders described White as a man who has brought a plethora of knowledge and experience to O’Fallon.
“He had a little free time, so he decided to take on the lead adviser position for our Explorer post. Last year, we had over 20 Explorers between the ages of 14 and 21, and they trained every week, just like the fire department does. And (White) was also in charge of that training, along with some of the other fire fighters that took it upon themselves, in their own time, to come up a few hours a week to teach these young kids what the fire service is all about,” he said. “He’s always willing to fill in anytime things are needed, and he has been that way.”
As an active instructor with the Illinois Fire Service Institute in his off time, Saunders said White still juggles working a full-time job in addition to his other duties.
“Fully employed with the NCIS, he also serves in the Springfield on the Terrorism Task Force Committee, and has been twice selected as a U.S. Department of Defense Counter Intelligence Analyst of the Year, and received a National Intelligence Exceptional Achievement Letter,” Saunders said.
Saunders said White’s commitment to public safety goes above and beyond in many ways.
“He also serves as the military support liaison for this region and the ATF, CIA and FBI,” Saunders said.
Since William “Bill” Barlock took over as coordinator of the O’Fallon Department’s Neighborhood Watch Program in June 2012, it has grown from two groups to nine.
Besides forming new groups, Barlock has made sure the groups have the tools they need to be successful in their efforts. Each group has designated liaison officers, and Barlock meets with each group a minimum of one time a year to go over crime stats, garner information sharing and provide unique educational opportunities.
He has also helped with information sharing via electronic means, starting email distribution lists, using the CodeRed system to provide crime alerts and establishing “NextDoor” social networking sites for neighborhood groups.
Barlock also volunteered to coordinate the department’s National Night Out event, which promotes positive social interaction between police and the community.
He does all these things while managing his investigative case load, supervising the O’Fallon Police Department Honor Guard, lending his detective skills out to other departments and serving as an investigator for both the Major Case Squad and the Southern Illinois Cyber Crimes Task Force.
“We are fortunate to have him on our team,” O’Fallon Police Capt. Kirk Brueggeman wrote in his nomination of Barlock.
Van Hook told attendees, “Bill, on a day-to-day basis, is one of those guys who shows up to work, always does an excellent job and always has a positive approach in how, not only, he treats his job, but treats the people he comes into contact with. He’s a great investigator with the Major Case Squad. And with his cyber skills and his investigative talents he brings forward, he is a great asset not just to O’Fallon, but also to other communities as well.”
From 1990 forward, we’ve been doing community policing, which (former) Chief Don Slaznick started before 1990. We were doing it before anybody put a name to it, and a lot of police departments looked at us with some of our community outreach thinking that’s really not real police work, but we always knew that it was. We knew that contact with our community was very important, and big part of what we are here for,” Van Hook said.
Van Hook went on to explain to attendees how Barlock played an integral role in pioneering the Community Neighborhood Watch Program in O’Fallon, which had been vacant for several years.
“(The program) was kind of abandoned because the traditional neighborhood watch with McGruff was a little bit, in my opinion, hands-off. You would have one meeting with your neighborhoods, then it was turned over to them, and it was their job to run it from there. The Neighborhood Watch Program that Bill started uses the technology, which he’s very good at, and we now have distribution lists for all of our groups. So if you have email, he sends out quarterly neighborhood watch bulletins — all of the things going on. If you have any kind of crime or activity going on in your neighborhood, Bill makes sure you are aware of it, and we believe it’s very important to communicate those types of messages to our members,” Van Hook said.
With Barlock’s initiative and hard work, there are nine groups, and 23 NextDoor neighborhoods, according to Van Hook.
“We didn’t want to just hand the program off back to the resident, and say, ‘OK, here’s what you need to do, and we will put up a sign for you.’ He has followup meetings with them to keep this program alive, and as a result, Bill came back to us and said, ‘Hey, I want to start doing National Night Out again,’ which we quit doing a few years back, but Bill brought it back last year, and this year was our second, and it was very well attended and we were given high praises for,” Van Hook said.
Barlock said he is very appreciative of the honor bestowed upon him during Thursday’s ceremony.
“We have a great department that we work for and a lot of good people that we have working at the O’Fallon Police Department, and I’m very honored to receive this award tonight,” Barlock said.
Timothy McClain has a quarter century of experience as an EMT/paramedic, both in the air and on the ground.
He has been with O’Fallon EMS since 2015. An Air Force veteran, he formerly served as a senior air flight medic. Over 12 years, he logged more than 890 flight hours as a critical care flight medic, including 235 combat hours.
He has received numerous awards in both his civilian and military careers.
“I have had the honor of working with Mr. McClain at the Department of Public Safety for approximately one year. During that period, I developed enormous respect for his dedication to patient care and his willingness and ability to give back to the community,” wrote James W. Holley Jr., O’Fallon EMS supervisor, in his nomination of McClain. “I also became acutely aware of his great knowledge and skill set. Not to mention, the endless hours he worked setting up and mentoring the only EMS Explorer program in the metro-mast.”
McClain was unable to attend the event, but Holley spoke on his behalf.
“Even though he is retired from his 23 years of service in the USAF, Tim helped start a lot of programs, such as tactical and flight medical stuff that are still being implemented today,” Holley said.
Only with the department since January, Holley said, McClain hit the ground running with his enthusiasm for spearheading new training programs at the O’Fallon-Shiloh EMS department.
“I think his new training program work has helped move the O’Fallon-Shiloh EMS up to a higher level,” Holley said.
Among those is the EMS Explorer Program that McClain recently launched.
“The police and fire departments have had the Explorer program for a while now… and McClain helped us pursue our own, and we are the first EMS department in the metro-east to have one. We’ve got kids from Mascoutah, Lebanon, of course, O’Fallon and Shiloh,” Holley said.
Recently, McClain earned his national certification to allow him to teach at other places besides Rend Lake Community College and Southwestern Illinois College, where he currently teaches EMS and paramedic training.
About the Awards
VFW National Emergency Medical Technician Public Servant Citation: Any individual who actively gives emergency medical treatment, provides rescue service or civil disaster assistance as a member of any public or volunteer company organized to give emergency medical care, provide rescue and civil disaster assistance to our nation’s citizens.
VFW National Law Enforcement Public Servant Citation: Any individual who serves in a municipal, county, state or federal unit tasked with enforcement of the laws pertaining to their area of responsibility. This award does not apply to individual employed by private companies or security services.
VFW National Firefighters Public Servant Citation: Any individual who actively fights fires as a member of any public or volunteer company organized to fight fires and give assistance to our nation’s citizens.
Awards criteria: Candidates must have demonstrated recognition by their colleagues or those they serve, consistent excellence in the performance of their duties, consistent dedication to their official responsibilities over a period of years and continuous growth in responsibilities and skills within their profession.