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DL native named firefighter of year

TRAVIS BARTON (far left) has been named the firefighter of the year in Montana.

When Travis Barton responded to a cardiac arrest call on New Year's Day of 2009, little did he know that what he did that night to save a life was the reason for a statewide award.

The Detroit Lakes native was recognized this year at his current state of residence, Montana, as the state's Firefighter of the Year.

On the call, the firefighter and paramedic and his team performed CPR and defibrillated the collapsed man six or seven times before he regained pulse.

All eyes were on Barton for more than 25 minutes, as restaurant patrons watched him help the collapsed diner breathe again before transporting him to the hospital.

"By the time we were on the way to the hospital he was talking again," he said.

Barton has been on more than 7,000 calls since he began his firefighter paramedic career in Bozeman, Mont. He said it's unusual to revive cardiac arrest patients and help them fully recover.

"I've had three full saves in my entire 16 years of doing it," he said. "It's a pretty rare success."

Barton was born and raised in Detroit Lakes and graduated in 1994 from Detroit Lakes High School.

He began his paramedic training in Becker County at the age of 18 before moving on to earn his associate degree in paramedicine from Northland Community and Technical College in East Grand Forks.

His biggest supporter -- mom Rose Barton of Detroit Lakes -- has been bragging to everyone she knows about her 34-year-old son's accomplishments.

"She encouraged me for whatever I wanted to do," Barton said. "Even when she wasn't comfortable with an 18-year-old running around Becker County in an ambulance."

He was recognized in the local Bozeman newspaper before Rose Barton brought the news all the way back to his hometown.

"Who hasn't she told?" Barton said with a laugh.

Out of 400 professional firefighters in Montana, Barton was the winner of the award, although he remains humble about the whole thing.

"Anybody from the state could've received the award," he said. "It was one call that I happened to be on and had a positive outcome."

Quick response is the key to success and it helped that the restaurant where the call came from was only about a minute from the station, he said.

"It was an honor to be recognized by a group such as the Legion who does so much for the community," Barton added.

But nobody gets into the business for the plaques or money, although he jokingly told people he was buying a new truck.

"It's definitely not what would drive me to get up every morning and go to work," Barton said. "You give somebody back their husband, or father..."