Tribbey Volunteer Firefighter Kelly Teague is the Patriot Auto Group Volunteer Firefighter of the Year.

Tribbey Volunteer Firefighter Kelly Teague is the Patriot Auto Group Volunteer Firefighter of the Year.

Teague, who has been on the department about five years now, serves as the assistant chief. He became a volunteer firefighter because he had the time and wanted to give back to the community he has called home for 25 years.

And giving back can mean so much to those in their time of need.

When responding to medical calls, for example, Teague said you can tell people are relieved to have someone there to help.

“I like to help's a pretty good feeling,” he said.

In the rural communities, Teague said many people live alone and don't always have family to check in on them often. That type of scenario hit close to home when Teague went on a medical call involving a patient with cancer.

Teague said they responded to a home that he thought might have been abandoned, only to discover that the home's occupant had serious health issues.

Teague, who felt the need to check on the man, returned the next day to offer help, but the man turned him down.

But Teague didn't give up.

He went back again the following day, but no one answered the door. Teague heard a noise with something hitting the door so he went inside. He discovered the man had fallen and there were problems with his heater.

“He was freezing – he could hardly move,” Teague said.

Teague helped the man get up and then worked to get the home's heater repaired as temperatures were expected to get even colder that night.

And while the man couldn't really talk much because of his condition, they found some ways to communicate, including the man giving Teague a journal of his that explained his condition and diagnosis.

Teague regularly returned to the man's home to help him and even took some food to the man and his pets.

“Anyone would have done that — you can't ignore some things,” Teague said, adding the man had lived secluded there for years, so many people didn't know him.

“If anything, the situation made me start thinking about other people,” he said, adding it's important to check on people in a community.

For Teague, giving back to the man and community is part of who he is and part of what he feels he owes his community.

Sadly, the man he was helping lost his battle, but Teague “made a great difference in the man's quality of life,” said Scott Reynolds, the retired Tribbey Fire Chief who nominated Teague for the Volunteer Firefighter of the Year award.

And while he is honored to be recognized, Teague said there are thousands of volunteer firefighters in communities doing great things every day.

Teague, who makes about 95 percent of the service calls in Tribbey, said the department has a great group, a camaraderie, and that's something he also shares with his wife, Stephanie. She also serves as a Tribbey Volunteer Firefighter, something that Teague said is nice because they can serve the community together and spend time together, including their training time.

For Teague, he's also had a chance to work in the fire service with sons Trevor, a deputy in Hughes County, and Tanner, who is in the Marines. Both have volunteered their time on the Tribbey Fire Department, he said.

And while structure fires are rare, Teague said they do see a lot of grass fires and assist other departments through mutual aid when needed. And while there aren't many specific fires or calls that stand out in Teague's memory, he said he'll always remember the first patient lost on a call and how life can change in a split second.

“I still think about it to this day,” he said.

Serving his community as a volunteer firefighter is just part of what Teague does; he also serves as a member of the Wanette School Board.

He is also the owner of Teague Pump Service, which drills water wells and installs pumps and his generosity of serving of the community is also part of his business.

From the nomination form for this award, Teague also works on the department's fire trucks and often makes repairs out of his own pocket when needed.

He said doing those things is a way to “pay back” the community.

Teague said he hopes others might become interested in serving their communities as a volunteer firefighter.