Patrick Wells Smith, age 65, passed away unexpectedly on June 21, 2019, at his home in Reno, Nev. He was well-known as a nationally-respected innovator and icon in the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) industry. Most recently he was the President and CEO of REMSA (Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority) and Care Flight, based in Reno, from January 1990 through March 2013 and then President of SEMSA (Sierra Emergency Medical Services Authority) also based in Reno, from April 2013 to June 2018.
He was known for his innovation and leadership in EMS system designs and medical 9-1-1 communications systems. He was one of the first responders on scene at the 1981 collapse of the walkway at the Hyatt Regency in Kansas City. It killed 114 people and injured 216. That experience inspired the ways he helped REMSA to prepare for many crises in which the team needed to respond with speed, outstanding systems, and compassion.
During his time at REMSA he created and fostered programs such as the special events coverage team, community and professional education teams, and the TEMS program which attaches specially-trained paramedics from REMSA to the SWAT teams of local law enforcement. He received numerous local and national awards, including the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award for small businesses in 2008 where he was awarded the opportunity to meet the President of the United States.
He was born on November 17, 1953 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to parents Ted Arvel Smith and Margaret Wells Smith. He was the second of three children. He attended Minnetonka High School, got his start as an EMT in 1973 as a college student in Minnesota, and soon began taking on supervisory roles for EMS agencies in Minnesota and Oregon. In 1980 he was hired as an assistant director of Metropolitan Ambulance Services Trust in Kansas City where he consulted to establish EMS systems in Fort Wayne, Ind., Pinellas County, Fla., Fort Worth, Tex., and Little Rock, Ark. Then he worked as vice president of Eastern Ambulance in Syracuse, New York before moving to Reno.
He was proudest in his professional life when talking about his REMSA/Care Flight team. “It’s about the people,” he would often say. He was a proud and loving father and grandfather who passed on his devotion to Disney and instilled a deep loyalty to the Minnesota Vikings in his family.
He was very active at the leadership level volunteering in the American Ambulance Association, and also NAPUM, National Association of Public Utility Model, which was a group of EMS organizations across the nation, each with the unique structure of a Public Utility Model, which provided guaranteed quality of care, response times and coverage without tax subsidies. REMSA had been one of those PUMs since its creation in 1986.
He is survived by his five children: Michelle Bergren (Matt), Aaron Smith (Divya), Danielle Sanford (Michael), Theodore Smith (Hailey), and Allison Hahn (Mark), his seven grandchildren: Blake, Sage, Bode, Rishi, Rohan, Hadley, and Cole, his nephews Jason and Jeremy Smith, and the mother of his children and ex-wife, Linda Smith, who remained his good friend and co-parent/grandparent, as well as his many other friends and EMS and medical profession colleagues.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Diana Smith and his brother James Smith.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno to the Patrick Smith Memorial Scholarship, which will be for students who want to study to become emergency medical technicians or paramedics. Please send donations to:
7000 Dandini Blvd, RDMT 200
Reno, Nevada 89512-3999