Commitment to Excellence

The National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) and EMS World Magazine, in conjunction with Advocates for EMS (AEMS), the National Association of EMS Educators (NAEMSE), and the National EMS Management Association (NEMSMA), established the National EMS Awards of Excellence program to recognize outstanding achievement in the EMS profession.

EMS World Magazine’s Volunteer EMS Service of the Year Award, sponsored by Firecom, and Paid Service of the Year Award, sponsored by Ferno, recognize outstanding performance by an EMS service. Each winning agency received a $1,000 award stipend, plus travel, lodging for three nights and registration for EMS EXPO 2010, where the award was presented at the opening keynote ceremony on September 29 in Dallas, TX.

EMS World Magazine Paid Service of the Year: Charleston County EMS
Charleston County (SC) EMS might not be one of the largest agencies in the country, but it’s certainly one of the busiest and most progressive.

With a staff of 144, the agency provides service to the entire county’s population of 315,000, covering 1,100 square miles. CCEMS operates 15 ALS transport and three prime-time ALS transport ambulances from a state-of-the-art dispatch center. In 2009, they responded to 50,000 requests for service. All CCEMS employees are certified as SC EMT or paramedic (75% of them National Registry), and all are ACLS, BTLS and hazmat operator-certified. All dispatchers are EMD-certified. Some noteworthy innovations include:

  • Developed a tri-county, multi-hospital committee involving three governments and four different hospitals to improve cardiac care. A 12-lead project improved door-to-cath time from 120 minutes to less than 40 minutes county-wide.
  • Developed the first RSI program in the state. CCEMS was the first agency to pilot the program that is now a state-wide initiative.
  • All medical protocols are developed and reviewed by paramedics and EMTs before going to the medical director.
  • The agency has developed several programs, including a student exchange that allows paramedic students from Britain to come to the U.S. for their ride time; a grant-funded medical Spanish course; and an incident command school.

The agency developed an EMS training program to improve recruitment efforts and diversity in the workplace. Trainees begin in supply and learn the system from the ground up. After 1 year, they attend EMT training, which is paid for by the department, and, after completing a job application and interviews, they are “hired” to begin work on the street. The tri-county committee secured funding for and implemented an EKG transmission program that allows faster transmission of data and can be used for disaster format, coordinating transportation to area facilities in the event of an MCI or other major incident. The department also initiated a new GPS system to route 9-1-1 calls for the quickest response, and owns and operates a county-wide 800 MHz system that allows total interoperability for all public safety agencies, including campus EMS systems, state, federal and local municipality partners.

CCEMS employees are heavily involved in the workings of the agency, as evidenced by employee-designed ambulances, an employee-developed field training officer program, and development of medical and trauma protocols. In addition to its ambulance fleet, the agency has a TEMS team that is fully integrated with law enforcement, and a non-motorized bike team and motorcycle team for use in large-scale public events. District supervisors used as independent duty medic units respond to critical calls as additional resources, as well as to non-emergent calls where transport may not be necessary. CCEMS secured funding for equipment and developed training and protocol for implementation of CPAP treatment; developed hypothermia training and protocol for cardiac arrest patients; and developed and implemented RSI training and protocol.

The importance of CCEMS employees to their employer is reinforced daily through worker safety and well-being programs. For its outstanding work in back-injury prevention, CCEMS received the National Association of Counties Achievement Award in Risk Management for Strain Injury Reduction after the department reduced worker’s compensation costs by over $1 million. As part of the employee “thank you” program, positive letters are rewarded with gift cards and other items for crew members, and they are acknowledged publicly during in-services. Employees are equipped with all needed safety gear for work, including vests, boots, helmet and appropriate bunker gear. The wellness program provides free annual comprehensive health screenings, and an awards committee recognizes annually an EMT and paramedic of the year.

In spite of its successes, Charleston County EMS occasionally struggles like everyone else, says EMS Director Don Lundy. “The economy has taken its toll the last few years on a lot of agencies, and it can’t help but wear on people to see the effects on our patients and some of our families,” he says. “Even though we all try to do the best we can do every day, it’s always great once in a while for somebody outside the circle to say, ‘Yep, you’ve got it.’ Winning the Gold Award is absolutely awesome. Our folks make us look so good with all the work they do.”

EMS World Magazine Volunteer Service of the Year: Morris Minute Men EMS
Most of us date modern EMS back to the early 1960s, but the Morris Minute Men (and women) have provided superior emergency care to the residents of  Morris Township and Morris Plains, New Jersey, since 1941. Over the years, they say, their uniforms, ambulances and personnel have changed, but their dedication to the community has never wavered.

With an average 75 to 100 active members, Morris Minute Men EMS volunteers are at the station 24/7, 365 days a year. In fact, there are usually two to three complete crews on hand waiting to staff the four ambulances, first responder/multicasualty command SUV or rescue truck. Most duty nights, every available bunk bed is filled with 10 volunteers on duty and ready to respond to 9-1-1 calls.

In addition to serving a population of approximately 27,000, the Minute Men provide mutual aid to seven adjacent towns and beyond, and medical services to a high number of county facilities, including two correctional facilities, a youth shelter, the county public safety training center, numerous parks and recreation areas, five elder nursing facilities, a homeless shelter, three ice rinks, a battered-women’s shelter, numerous schools and colleges and multiple corporate headquarters. They also cover two high-capacity commuter train stations and the Morristown airport.

Several Minute Men volunteers are current New Jersey EMS Task Force members, and the group has been designated as strike team leader for Morris County. The Minute Men are located in one of 45 urban areas in the U.S. that the Department of Homeland Security has designated as “critical” due to population density and infrastructure, and are one of six designated as “highest risk” Tier 1 Urban Area Security Initiative jurisdictions, which they keep in mind during planning and training.

On top of providing medical and rescue services, the Minute Men work to educate the public about various medical topics through venues like an EMS Expo at a local charity bike ride, CPR and first aid classes, and involvement with the local hospital association. Minute Men members often go to schools, churches and community picnics to give ambulance tours and answer questions, and construct a haunted house at Halloween, complete with a haunted ambulance, left-over body parts and living-dead CPR manikins.   

Last year, the Minute Men completed an effort to meet and exceed all OSHA safety, training and equipment requirements and were certified by an OSHA inspector as fully compliant, which is unusual for a volunteer squad. The Minute Men also became the first volunteer squad with a New Jersey Office of Emergency Medical Services-inspected ambulance, which is required only of paid services. They have also converted their patient care reports to electronic entry, so all calls are logged with the state for review and statistical compilation.

Squad members are offered a huge array of continuing education options. Their building is just down the street from the local training academy, and all volunteers are encouraged to attend classes. Their website has links to several online CEU sites, training presentations and a “Topic of the Month” supplied by the squad’s first lieutenant. The lieutenant also provides annual compliance training to all members, who are required to become EMTs as quickly as possible. The squad has recently established an experienced physician as its dedicated medical director to review electronic charts, review calls at the monthly meeting and make decisions about agency protocol.

According to Tiffany Willshaw, who nominated her squad for the award, “When you look at our walls and see the photos of past active members and the old Cadillac and Packard ambulances, then go to our meetings and hear the examples of leadership, dedication and skill our members demonstrate on a regular basis, it’s easy to see that we are not only continuing our 69-year tradition of excellence, but we’re progressing into the future.”

“It’s always nice to be recognized,” adds Minute Men’s president, Linda Omaggio, EMT. “Any time volunteers are recognized is a pat on the back for all the hard work that we do, and that all volunteers do. It’s a wonderful honor.”

NAEMT 2010 EMT of the Year: Mark E. Wintle

   The National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) announces that Mark E. Wintle, of Morris Township, NJ, has won the 2010 NAEMT EMT of the Year Award, sponsored by Braun Industries. The award was presented to Wintle on September 28 at the NAEMT General Membership Meeting and Awards presentation, held in conjunction with EMS EXPO 2010 in Dallas, TX.

   The NAEMT EMT of the Year Award recognizes an emergency medical technician who demonstrates excellence in the performance of emergency medical services. NAEMT award winners receive a $1,000 award stipend, plus free travel, lodging for three nights and registration for EMS EXPO 2010.

A True Leader

   Wintle, an EMT-Basic and Captain with Morris Minute Men Emergency Medical Services, was nominated by colleague Tiffany Willshaw. Wintle joined Morris Minute Men EMS in 2003 and since then has become one of the pillars of the organization, says Willshaw.

   "Mark is the kind of person who would give you his shirt off his back. He is often the first person to respond to a request for shift coverage, the first to sign up for standbys, the first and last person at a meeting, and the first person to tell you that EMS isn't just about running ambulance calls. Mark is a true leader who strives to help his community and his state by making his squad become the best they can be by being the best he can be."

   Wintle is one of the most active members of the organization, serving on numerous committees. He was promoted to Captain in January after serving as assistant captain. He has been proactive in improving the way Minute Men EMS recruits members through membership drives, banner creation and even publishing a Morris Minute Men comic book.

   "He is frequently the first point of contact for prospective members and has played a part in most members' decision to join," says Willshaw.

   He also has been a proponent for disaster preparedness by incorporating the Incident Command System into activities and planning, and was involved with the group's transition to electronic charting this year, learning and personalizing the system and training others. He was a driving force behind Minute Men EMS's successful bid to meet and exceed all OSHA safety, training and equipment requirements to ensure worker safety.

   Due to Wintle's leadership, his team was chosen as the New Jersey EMS Strike Team Leader for Morris County, was nominated for outstanding EMS organization by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services Office of Emergency Medical Services, and was voted Best Morris County EMS Organization by The Daily Record newspaper.

   "Mark is incredibly proactive in reaching out to ensure our members are dealing with the stresses of our field appropriately, are completing all required trainings and certifications, and are giving the best patient care possible," Willshaw states. "He is constantly interacting with members of the organization to ensure a positive work environment. To say Mark is loved and respected by his peers is a gross understatement."

Providing the Best Patient Care

   In addition to his administrative work, Wintle runs a 15-hour shift every week and an additional 24-hour shift every six weeks.

   "With all of the responsibilities Mark carries and hours he logs, it is incredible to see how much he cares about each patient," Willshaw says. "Mark reassures scared patients and families, trying to find the best way to treat and transport them while optimizing their comfort and privacy. He realizes that this call may be one of the worst moments of a person's life, and he does his best to help them deal with the onslaught of people around them, the noise and confusion of lights and sirens, and the potentially scary experience of an ambulance and ER."

Advancing His Education

   Wintle received his EMT-B certification in 2003, and continues to advance his learning in the field of EMS.

   "Members joke that if there is a CEU class for a pertinent topic, Mark has taken it, and they are usually right," says Willshaw.

   Wintle shares his knowledge with other Minute Men members during his monthly captain's report, his weekly Friday night shift, and through e-mails, but most important, while out in the field caring for patients.

   "So much of what I do successfully is because of the people I work with. In EMS we do everything as a team. We depend on each other. One part of the team that doesn't get mentioned very often is family. When I can't be at an important family function because of a big fire or some other disaster, my wife doesn't complain, she just accepts it. She's proud of the work I do and I couldn't do it without her support," Wintle says.

   "I love being an EMT. It's the thing I'm most proud of. Anyone who ever did it would feel that way. I love being part of the Morris Minute Men and helping to make it a better, stronger organization. In the past seven years I've built a lot of great memories as an EMT. And, luckily, I think I'll get to have a lot more."

NAEMT 2010 Paramedic of the Year: Lisa M. Camp

   The National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) announces that Lisa M. Camp, of Friendswood, Texas, has won the 2010 NAEMT Paramedic of the Year Award, sponsored by Masimo. The award was presented to Camp on September 28 at the NAEMT General Membership Meeting and Awards presentation, held in conjunction with EMS EXPO 2010 in Dallas, TX.

   The NAEMT Paramedic of the Year Award recognizes a paramedic who demonstrates excellence in the performance of emergency medical services.

   Camp, EMS Chief, Friendswood Volunteer EMS, was nominated for the award by her friend, Chief Roy L. Hunter of Clear Lake Emergency Medical Corps.

   "I once was asked 'what is a hero?' I answered this as: A hero is someone you strive to imitate. Lisa Camp is my hero for all the wonderful things she does for her community and her country," notes Hunter. "Lisa should be recognized due to her support of the citizens of Friendswood, the state of Texas, and the country through her leadership in quality prehospital patient care and community-wide emergency response. When it comes to emergency medical services, Lisa is the sage in the area. She gives so much of her time to the EMS community. She has been at the forefront in the areas of patient care, public access, medical control, disaster preparedness, public education and training."

Improving Patient Care

   Hunter notes that Camp's EMS team uses cutting-edge technologies to help its patients recover as fully as possible from their emergencies. One of these technologies, which Camp was instrumental in setting up, was the use of a Induced Cooling by EMS (ICE) protocol. Camp had noted that post-resuscitation encephalopathy was the single largest contributor to post-resuscitation deaths and poor neurological outcomes. As part of an effort to reduce the disparity between EMS resuscitation rates and hospital discharge rates, Camp began looking at the use of induced hypothermia on post-resuscitation return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) patients. After finding limited side effects, she developed a comprehensive protocol for EMS to use induced hypothermia as part of a multifaceted approach to optimize neurologic resuscitation on the ROSC patients. The local emergency department, Clear Lake Regional Medical Center, under direction of Abel Longoria, MD, submitted the original study to the medical review board. The information collected on patient care and outcomes led to this protocol becoming a permanent treatment for ROSC patients.

   Additionally, noting a lag time in cardiac patients getting into the cardiac catheterization labs, Camp worked with EMS medical director Oscar Boultinghouse, MD, and directed her EMS practitioners start double-lumen IV catheters and administration of heparin in the field, and to send 12-lead ECGs via telemetry. This solution has provided multiple entry ports for the various medications and procedures introduced in the lab, and allowed the emergency department physicians to get an early look at ECG tracings, all of which has significantly reduced the amount of time required for patient preparation.

   By performing at least three of the critical steps in cardiac patient care in the prehospital setting, Camp has helped the catheterization team to begin definitive lifesaving treatment sooner. The cardiac cath lab physicians in the local Houston area have attributed at least two successful catheterizations to the aggressive prehospital care provided by EMS practitioners under Camp's direction. One patient's family was told by the attending physician that the patient was alive only because of the advanced techniques utilized by Camp's team.

Protecting the Community

   Hunter also describes how, on behalf of her community, Camp has proactively prepared for the possibility of either a natural or man-made disaster by participating in and sponsoring conferences and drills in disaster management, acquiring specialized antidote kits, and training her services to use Level C personal protection equipment. "After the events of September 11, 2001, Lisa wanted to do more for her community and country and joined the Texas-3 Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT), where she fills a vital leadership role," says Hunter. As part of her position with the DMAT, Camp deployed to New Orleans for several weeks after Hurricane Katrina.

   Camp has served as a mentor, supporter and advocate for EMS throughout the country, Hunter notes. "Having worked in EMS for more than 30 years, Lisa has always strived for the best in care from herself and from her service. Raised in a fire/EMS family, Lisa has been active in EMS and fire response since she became old enough to join the Friendswood Volunteer EMS (FVEMS) and Friendswood Volunteer Fire Department," he says.

   "I would like to express my surprise and gratitude at being selected for the NAEMT 2010 Paramedic of the Year Award," says Camp. "It is truly an honor to receive this prestigious award. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge my family, friends, colleagues and students that inspire me each day to advance EMS as a profession in our small part of the world. Thank you all!"

NEMSMA Executive of the Year: Ernesto "Ernie" Rodriguez

When Ernie Rodriguez took over as director of Austin-Travis County (Texas) Emergency Medical Services in June 2008, the organization was facing numerous challenges. Responders were not meeting response time goals, little continuing education was being offered, employee turnover had reached 10% annually, and injury rates were too high.

   Rodriguez and his team decided they needed to make some changes. Among the initiatives: changing shift structure to improve morale and reduce fatigue, altering the way vehicles and equipment were utilized to achieve greater efficiency, and investing in a revamped training program. The results quickly became evident: Responders began to consistently meet response time goals, turnover dropped to less than 2% a year, and the rate of on-the-job injuries fell.

   With so much discussion about the need for EMS leaders to consider business principles such as return on investment to justify expenditures, it might surprise you to hear Rodriguez's thought process. "A lot of the time, I start with the heart first and work my way toward the business level," he says. "There are things we need to do because it's the right thing to do.

   "I remember talking to a guy once and he said, 'You are too nice to your employees.' I fall in love with them. He was pointing out my weaknesses, but I think those are my strengths."

   That caring attitude is one reason Rodriguez's employees nominated him for the EMS Executive of the Year Award--which he went on to win. He will be presented the award by the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, in conjunction with the National EMS Management Association and EMS World Magazine, at the EMS Expo, Sept. 27-Oct. 1 in Dallas.

   "It caught me completely off guard," Rodriguez says of the award. "I thought it was pretty cool that some of my peers would recognize me in that way. What's even greater is that the nomination was put together by people who work with me. You often wonder, what do these people really think about me? ... They gave me a lot of credit, but this is a team effort."

   Throughout his career, Rodriguez has worked in volunteer and career fire departments and for private, fire-based and, currently, third service EMS. "I've tried just about every flavor of EMS," he says. "It's what defines EMS, which is that it's a little bit of everything. It's been helpful to me to have had the opportunity to see it from various vantage points."

   Rodriguez got his start in 1980 as a volunteer firefighter/EMT in Kingsville, Texas. He left there to work as a firefighter/paramedic in Corpus Christi, where he was later promoted to assistant EMS director. In 1991, he went to work for the state of Texas as assistant state EMS director, where he worked on disaster preparedness, among other programs, before being hired by MedStar in Fort Worth. He left there to become deputy director of EMS with Austin-Travis County EMS, which provides EMS coverage to nearly 1 million residents in and around Austin, covering a region of more than 1,100 square miles.

   In regard to the qualities that make for a strong leader and a good executive, Rodriguez says: "Your employees above all need to know there is someone watching out for them. That is a primary focus of any executive in any organization. We lose sight of that when we get overly focused on the dollars. When we think mostly of ROI, we begin to lose sight of what we know best, which is people. It's very difficult to take an organization and transform it into one that's willing to value the impact on people equally with the dollars and the measures."

   --Jenifer Goodwin

   This article is reprinted from the newsletter Best Practices in Emergency Services. For the complete interview, go to www.emergencybestpractices.com.

NAEMSE EMS Educator Awards: Scott Crawford & Twink Dalton

   They come from all walks of life with singleness of purpose: to help, teach and even save lives. They work excruciating hours and manage a multitude of details. They put others before themselves; see problems and solve them.

   The National Association of EMS Educators (NAEMSE) is proud each year to award individuals in the EMS education profession the Heroes Awards, honoring those who affect and influence our daily lives, as well as those who are no longer with us. These individuals were honored at the annual NAEMSE Symposium, Sept. 8-2, 2010.

   The Unsung Hero Award was created to recognize those unsung men and women who serve our profession each and every day with a commitment to excellence and who reflect the very best characteristics of our profession in and out of the classroom. Unbeknownst to them, these individuals are nominated by their peers and coworkers.

   The 2010 NAEMSE Unsung Hero is Scott Crawford of Nebraska.

   Legends that Walk Among Us was created to honor those men and women who have moved our profession forward with their energy and talents at a state or national level. This award allows us to say thank you to those individuals who have and continue to mentor us, motivate us, and inspire us through their commitments to our profession.

   The 2010 NAEMSE Legends That Walk Among Us Award will be presented to Alice "Twink" Dalton of Colorado.

   In addition to honoring those heroes who are able to be with us today, it is equally important to honor those EMS educators who have passed who exemplified the best attributes of the teaching profession.

   In remembrance, we honor the following: Roger Kruger, Nebraska; Greg Chamberlain, Nebraska; and Jo Chambers, Illinois.

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