COLORADO SPRINGS — It's hard to imagine how a 228-pound man gets into small spaces to train on rescuing people, but Colorado Springs Fire Department firefighter and paramedic Cameron Halverson makes it look easy. Whether it's tight spaces or dangerous terrain, it's all just part of the training he gets as part of the department's most elite teams: heavy rescue and tactical response.
It's something he's wanted to do since he was a little boy.
"My dad was an MP (military police) in the Army and that’s probably what spawned it it all," Halverson said. "Then growing up it was always fire, PD, fire, PD until I finally chose fire because I think the family convinced me that being a firefighter was just a little bit safer than being a cop."
Both teams Halverson is on aren't exactly "safe." The CSFD tactical response team responds to the most dangerous scenes. Suited with ballistic vests, they save lives as they duck from gunfire. Halverson treated victims on scene at the deadly Planned Parenthood shooting in 2015. For his bravery and courage under fire, he received the department's highest honor: the Medal of Valor.
"We had two armored vehicles and we had two elements of tactical, paramedic, and EMTs in each armored vehicle and then a bunch of tactical providers out in staging as well," he said. "It was a very long day running back-and-forth and taking care of lots of different people with lots of different types of injuries."
Just one year before, Halverson was one of the first on scene at the Drake power plant fire downtown.
"I was a brand new guy," he said. "I stepped off the engine and just froze staring up at the power plant and its ripping flames."
Halverson received the Medal of Valor for that, too.
At the Planned Parenthood scene, he met the founder of Shield 616.
"That forms a pretty unique bond that you won’t get with a lot of normal people," Halverson said.
The non-profit has outfitted every truck in the city with a ballistic vest. They raise money through events like the Border to Border ride to protect first responders. It's a nearly 500-mile ride across Colorado over five days. Halverson volunteers his time as a paramedic on the ride and jumps on a bike, too.
"For me, there’s nothing better than riding a bike until I can’t move my legs anymore," he said. "It does wonders for the brain."
A passion for service, and a heart for his community. That's why Cameron Halverson is a News 5 Jefferson Award winner.
The Jefferson Award was established by former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Senator Robert Taft, Jr., and Samuel S. Beard in 1972. It is the country's longest-running and most prestigious honor celebrating public service and volunteerism.
Halverson's fire captain, Bill Hull, told us Halverson's work ethic can't be beaten.
"Cameron is always the first want to say 'What can I do?' and is always wanting to learn," Hull said. "He's always got his nose into books trying to study whatever he doesn’t know."
Halverson is one of 29 finalists across the country for a national Jefferson Award. The awards gala is in November in New York City. We will let you know if Halverson wins.
Remember if you know someone who is making their community better through service click here to fill out the nomination form.
ORIGINS OF THE JEFFERSON AWARDS
Started by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in 1972, The Jefferson Awards have honored the incredible spirit and unique accomplishments of over 63,000 national and local heroes.
Every Jefferson Award honoree, from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Congressman John Lewis, to former Buffalo Bill Fred Jackson has inspired through their selfless public service.
Together, we will bring much-needed attention to those Coloradans who generate the ripples of good in our community.
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