Two Spring Valley first responders were honored at a Jan. 19 annual gathering and awards dinner for Spring Valley Area Emergency Services.

Jacob Gilles was named Firefighter of the Year and Melanie Jorgenson was named EMS Person of the Year.

Gilles, a Spring Valley native, has served as a Spring Valley firefighter for five years. He said he was quite surprised and honored to receive the award.

"(Being a firefighter) is a good way to give back and help people in their time of need," Gilles said in a recent phone interview. "I'm glad I'm able to do that ... and be part of the department."

Jorgenson has been an EMT for Spring Valley since 1997. A Spring Valley resident, Jorgenson said she enjoys her job because she can make a difference in her community.

She added in a recent interview that she was also surprised to be awarded for her service. During the awards ceremony, she was joking with a colleague about who would be named EMS Person of the Year.

Then Jorgenson's name was called.

"I think the world of the people I work with ... I appreciate being given an award by my peers," Jorgenson said. "They are an outstanding group of EMS folks, they're always well-educated and I feel as though our group is always striving to do its best, so to have an award from those folks is pretty cool."