Golder Ranch Captain

Left to right: Golder Ranch Captain Chris Erickson, engineer Chris Dawkins and Fire Chief Randy Karrer pose for a photograph.

Whether a task involves saving the life of a community member, faithfully dedicating three decades of service, or even rescuing one of their own, first responders answer the call. On Tuesday, April 9, the Golder Ranch Fire District board recognized firefighters from Golder Ranch and the Northwest Fire District for such dedication and heroism. 

The Golder Ranch board first honored Northwest Firefighters Captain Eddie Croy, engineer Don Patch, paramedic David Carter, firefighter Alex Morales, paramedic Colt Jackson and firefighter Casey Clark for saving a life on an emergency call on Monday, Feb. 4. 

The firefighters responded to a cardiac arrest call to a home in the Golder Ranch area. Upon arrival, family members directed the emergency responders toward a breathless person on the floor. The emergency responders administered a defibrillator multiple times, attained a steady pulse, then sent the victim to a nearby hospital where they showed “rapid recovery”.

Although these firefighters are part of the Northwest Fire District, Golder Ranch’s “Auto-Aid system” recognized Northwest as the nearest emergency responders to the call, and sent them to the scene. 

Golder Ranch Fire Chief Randy Karrer said that quick decision may have saved a life, and shows the real benefits of their automatic system. 

“This is exactly what we are looking for,” Karrer said. “This is all about the community.” 

The board also recognized recently retired Captain Tom Helmandollar, for his 30 years of service at Golder Ranch. Over three decades, Helmandollar served the ranks as a lieutenant, paramedic and captain. 

“During Tom’s time at Golder Ranch, he proved himself to be a valuable and contributing member to the betterment of the district,” read a commemorative plaque the board gave to Helmandollar. “As Tom leaves Golder Ranch and enters a new chapter of his life, his sense of humor and willingness to always help out will be missed by all.” 

The Golder Ranch team also gave him two flags: a U.S. flag for his military service, and an Arizona flag for his service as a first responder. Both flags previously flew over the Golder Ranch station. 

Upon receiving his commemorative awards and the thanks of the entire department, Helmandollar joked about staying on the force for another five or 10 years. 

“I’ve been off for a week, and it feels like a month,” Helmandollar said. “I’m gonna miss this place. I’m gonna miss you all.” 

Finally, the board recognized Golder Ranch engineer Chris Dawkins for performing the Heimlich maneuver on his captain who was choking at the station while eating breakfast.

“This one was a little more close to home,” said battalion chief Frederick Pearce. “This goes to show firefighters aren’t immune to emergencies either.” 

Dawkins and his team were celebrating a successful test for probationary officers by enjoying some burritos, when Captain Chris Erickson began to choke. Using his training, Dawkins administered the Heimlich maneuver, dislodging the obstruction, and saving Erickson’s life. 

“This just shows that we can have our own emergencies,” Karrer said. “But in situations like that, the training kicks in. This shows that we really are dedicated to saving lives.” 

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