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Local heroes recognized at the 12th annual Palm Springs Police and Fire Appreciation Luncheon

The 12th annual Palm Springs Police and Fire Appreciation Luncheon, which recognizes the men and women who serve and protect the city has held Tuesday morning at the Palm Springs Convention Center.

The event was hosted by the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce, and sponsored by Eisenhower Health.

During the luncheon, police and fire department accomplishments and goals were highlighted, including a group of dispatchers and first responders who worked tirelessly to help people during Tropical Storm Hilary. One of the firefighters who received a Medal of Valor for rescuing 19 people was Captain Ronald Skyberg. Skyberg said the award was truly such an honor, and that he's happy to work alongside other heroes to serve the people of the Coachella Valley.

“Oh, that night was an intense night," said Skyberg, referring to the efforts to save people during the storm. "We got toned out for a potential rescue in the city of Cathedral City. My crew and I went out on the fire truck. And that night was a brutal night, in terms of being able to mentally and physically get through the night and through the morning with the lack of communication, the intense amount of stress and the amount of victims that we had to rescue, and also having to communicate with different agencies”.

Thanks to the crews who worked that night, not a single person died. Another group of first responders was recognized for saving a baby who had nearly drowned, but because of their swift actions, he survived.

"Our officers gave mouth to mouth and chest compressions and helped the baby live," said Andrew Mills, Police Chief. Mills also took the time to thank the public for being so supportive of the officers around Palm Springs.

"People truly love and appreciate all," said Mills. "All the work that our firefighters and our police officers do and so just that little bit of thank you is means the world to people."

Mills presented the Police Officer of the Year Award and Palm Springs Fire Chief Paul Alvarado presented the Firefighter of the Year Award.

"This is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with your local service officials,'' organizers wrote in a statement. "Each department chooses from among their peers an officer and a firefighter who best exemplifies the values of their department."

"It feels great to be honored with this award," said Police Officer of the Year, Joshua Crocker. "I can honestly say here in Palm Springs, people really care. I don’t think there’s a day that goes by that somebody doesn’t stop me on the street and say thank you for what you do we appreciate you.” 

The Richard M. Milanovich Community Leadership Award was given to Greg Rodriguez, Deputy Director of Government Affairs and Community Engagement, Riverside County Housing and Workforce Solutions. Rodriguez earned the award "for his active work in healthcare, housing, and homelessness in our valley," officials wrote.   

Both the Palm Springs police and fire chief say they are proud of their teams' efforts, and they are already looking ahead to next year.

“I'm so proud of them," said Alvarado. "I'm proud to be their chief. I'm here for them to make sure that they have the very best of everything that they need to do their job and serve this community. I'll tell you what, what's in front of me right now is a wildfire season.”

Mills agreed.

“I mean, we had a great year," said Police Chief Mills. "Five murders to zero, sixty fatalities to seven, a big reduction and visibility in the presence of homeless on the streets. We want to keep heading that direction going forward, and we want to do it the right way.”

Tickets started at $85 per seat, and could be purchased at You could have also opted to sponsor a Police or Fire official through buying their lunch.

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Tori King

City News Service


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