April 27, 2012 –
Mike Mills, Fire Chief/Director of Emergency Services for the Potawatomi Tribal Fire Department, was honored today as Employee of the Quarter at the All Employee meeting held at the Bingo Hall.
It was a special day for the PBPN, as Mills, who has been diagnosed with cancer and is on a medical leave, was able to attend the ceremony and meeting with the help of his wife Rita. He was recognized in front of the audience by Lance Wishkeno, of the fire department, who read aloud Mills’ nomination for the award and where several firefighters and the Tribal Council stood in support. Following a short acceptance speech by Mills, PBPN employees came forth and shook hands with the group who formed a line which is Prairie Band tradition.
Parked outside the Bingo Hall were two new fire department vehicles that Mills had worked for months to secure to correct specifications. According to Frank Zeller, a shift captain for the department, Mills became ecstatic when he saw the newstate-of-the-art Ford ambulance and new rescue-fire truck that he had worked so hard to get in operation.
A fundraising benefit is also being held this Saturday night for Mills at the Dover Community Center (5928 SW Douglas Road) in Dover, Kan. from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. where gift-basket raffles and entertainment by Close Enough will be provided.
Chief Mills began his duties for the PBPN on June 29, 2009 and is in charge of a staff of approximately 18 firefighters/emergency medical technicians (EMT) and paramedics who work in the department. He was recently noted for his work as the acting public information officer for the incident management team composed of northeast Kansas EMS personnel that formed quickly when an EF-2 tornado touched down in Harveyville, Kan. on February 28. According to Wishkeno, who was at the scene of the tornado, Mills worked at the scene all night and into the morning the next day. Harveyville is near Topeka and in Wabaunsee County. The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that Gov. Brownback had declared the area an emergency disaster and the American Red Cross had also been called in after the storm hit.
Mills is from Topeka and prior to his present position, worked for the Topeka/Tecumseh Fire Department for 23 years. Before that time, he was the assistant fire chief for the Mission Township Fire District region for five years and is originally from the Dover/Wabaunsee area. In addition, his experience also includes being a field instructor in the University of Kansas Fire Search Training Program for several years and receiving training through the National Fire Academy.
Mike Mills (center front,) with members of the Potawatomi Fire Department and Tribal Council members Jim Potter (front, left) and Steve Ortiz (front right).
Chief Mills receiving his award from Jim Potter, Tribal Council Secretary. In the center is Mike’s wife Rita.
Lance Wishkeno (far left) reading the nomination narrative about Mills while Tribal Council, Rita Mills, and members of the Fire Department look on with Mills.
Tina Levier (turquoise shirt) shakes hands with Mills in the receiving line.
Frank Zeller in front of the new ambulance.
The new rescue truck.
Firefighters and paramedics from left to right: Randy Smith, Paul Juedes, Cecil Mercer, and Bruce Coates.