EMS World, NAEMT Honor Award Winners

Honoring the best in EMS: Meet the recipients of the 2013 National EMS Awards of Excellence


“Paul is always willing to go above and beyond the call of duty and takes great pride in his profession. He has given continuous and selfless service to the citizens of Tripp County in their time of need,” says Benton. “He has an excellent work attitude, which radiates to his fellow employees and colleagues and is an asset to his team, county and the community in which he proudly serves. His desire to serve without an expectation of honors or recognition clearly demonstrates his unselfish commitment to community. Paul is truly deserving of this award.”

2013 NAEMT/Jones & Bartlett Learning Educator of the Year: Robert Ditch, EdD, Mesa, AZ

Ditch is an educator at the Arizona Academy of Emergency Services in Mesa, AZ. He was nominated by Taylor Bradford, director of operations for the academy.

A retired, highly decorated colonel, having served for over 32 years in the Air Force Medical Service, he has more than 40 years of EMS experience and completed a doctorate in education with a specialization in Emergency Services Higher Education. Ditch is also an adjunct assistant professor in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Ditch is a nationally registered paramedic, licensed in Arizona, Virginia and Texas. Since leaving the military, he has dedicated his retirement years to focusing on bringing quality EMS education to the nation’s EMS providers. Much of his time is unpaid, with travel and instruction funded out of his own pocket as a volunteer EMS educator. Although he teaches over 30 different curricula, he is most recognized for his voluntary development/instruction of terrorism response courses for EMS responders.

In addition to his time training others in emergency management, Ditch has been deployed to numerous in-need locations, including 14 national-level disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy in 2012.

Ditch’s long list of accomplishments and contributions to EMS education nationwide exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism and unbridled passion for prehospital care training and education he personifies. “Dr. Ditch is the quintessential champion of EMS education excellence,” Bradford says. “I cannot think of anyone else who deserves this recognition more than Dr. Bob.”

2013 Dick Ferneau Paid EMS Service of the Year: Medstar Mobile Healthcare, Ft. Worth, TX

This year’s Dick Ferneau Paid EMS Service of the Year is MedStar Mobile Healthcare of Ft. Worth, TX. There are a lot of reasons for that, and we’ll get into them, but if you want a short answer or single thumbnail act to explain why, take its name.

Earlier this year MedStar EMS became MedStar Mobile Healthcare, a change intended to reflect the service’s burgeoning role as a full-fledged provider of a broad spectrum of community healthcare services that transcend traditional emergency care.

The paint is still wet on mobile healthcare as an industrywide concept, and while a few big systems have embraced it aggressively, MedStar was the first to make such an unreserved public commitment as breaking with the name EMS. This new approach, the move announced, is who we are and will be our future.

“We feel it’s putting our money where our mouth is: If we’re going to preach this stuff, then we should brand ourselves to represent our beliefs,” says MedStar’s executive director, Doug Hooten. “We’ve believed for a long time that we’re not just an ambulance transportation company; we practice medicine and healthcare every single day, and we need to be viewed in that venue.”

MedStar’s been involved in mobile healthcare types of efforts for four years now, and its belief in the concept approaches the evangelical: “One of our primary missions,” service leaders said in applying for the Ferneau award, “has been to educate our entire industry on the benefits of becoming more involved in the delivery of healthcare.” To that end its leaders have hosted more than 77 agencies from 31 states and five countries in two years for visits to learn about new roles and opportunities in EMS’ future, and presented on it at more than 30 conferences.

Similarly, the service has been unafraid to change, innovate and improve across all areas of its operations and medicine. The name change was but a shorthand representation of its entire organizational approach.