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2023 AAA Legislative Awards

The American Ambulance Association is proud to announce the winners of the 2023 AAA Legislative Awards. Each Member of Congress is being recognized for their strong advocacy for emergency medical services and their ongoing dedication to ambulance services across the United States.

2023 AAA Legislators of the Year

Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D (LA)
Senator Jon Tester (MT)

2023 AAA Legislative Recognition Award Recipients


  • Senator Cortez Masto (NV)
  • Senator Collins (ME)
  • Senator Stabenow (MI)
  • Senator Schumer (NY)
  • Senator Lujan (NM)
  • Senator Kaine (VA)
  • Senator Murkowski (AK)
  • Senator Tuberville (AL)
  • Senator Murray (WA)
  • Senator Moran (KS)
  • Senator Boozman (AR)


  • Congressman Blumenauer (OR-3)
  • Congresswoman Kelly (IL-2)
  • Congresswoman Sewell (AL-7)
  • Congressman Wenstrup (OH-2)
  • Congressman Carter (GA-1)
  • Congressman Tonko (NY-20)
  • Congressman Davis (IL-7)
  • Congresswoman Perez (WA-3)
  • Congressman Finstad (MN-1)
  • Congressman Pence (IN-6)
  • Congressman Kim (NJ-3)
  • Congresswoman Clark (MA-5)
  • Congressman Zinke (MT-1)
  • Congressman Guest (MS-3)
  • Congresswoman Hoyle (OR-4)
  • Congressman Bost (IL-12)
  • Congressman Alford (MO-4)


Nominations Open for the Vanguard Awards & EMS Next! 🏆🚑

Celebrate EMS Excellence

Nominations are Open Now for Vanguard & EMSNext Awards

Vanguard and EMS Next honorees will be recognized at the American Ambulance Association Annual Conference & Trade Show, as well as on the AAA website and social media platforms. Winners will also receive complimentary registration to the AAA Annual Conference & Trade Show.

2024 AAA Annual Conference & Trade Show
Gaylord Opryland
April 22–24, 2024
Nashville, TN

Nominations close January 1, 2024.
However, capacity is limited, so early submission is encouraged.

Nominate A Vanguard
Nominations are open for the second annual American Ambulance Association Vanguard Awards! The Vanguards honor those who blazed the trail for fellow women EMS professionals.
Nominate An EMSNext
Know a younger and/or diverse rising leader? Nominations are open for the EMSNext recognition and development program!

2024 EMSNext Nominations Now Open!

EMSNext Nominations Due January 1, 2024!

Know a wonderful rising leader you’d like to recognize as the future of EMS? Nominations are open for EMSNext (formerly Mobile Healthcare 40 Under 40)!

Selection Process & Criteria

2023 EMSNext Honorees

Honorees will be selected based ONLY on the information provided in the nomination form below. Nominees should have contributed to their organization, state ambulance association, AAA, other professional associations, and/or the EMS profession in an extraordinary way beyond faithful completion of job duties. Please be sure to include detail about the nominee’s impact to date and future promise.

Please note that nominees must be under 40 in the year of nomination OR from a diverse background. No specific job role or title is required for consideration.

EMSNext Program Description

EMSNext is a recognition and development program of the American Ambulance Association. The goal of this program is to recognize up-and-coming leaders within EMS and support them in building their networks and leadership skills and encouraging them to get involved in the next level of EMS leadership. This program is a way for organizations to fully engage their rising leaders through company-sponsored travel and participation in additional learning and networking events throughout the year. Program participation includes:

    • Complimentary conference registration for the 2024 AAA Annual Conference & Tradeshow (April 22-24 in Nashville, Tennessee)
    • Recognition of the EMSNext recipients during the Conference
    • Mentor pairing and additional professional development opportunities
    • Encouraged to attend AAA Board Meetings throughout the year
    • Encouraged to attend another AAA event with our leaders in 2024

AAA’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Updated in August 2022

Caring for People—Together.
The American Ambulance Association board and its members are committed to providing high-quality healthcare to every patient regardless of race, color, sex, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, status as a veteran, and/or on the basis of differing ability. We dedicate time, thought, and resources to fostering diversity, equity, inclusion, and mutual respect within the Emergency Medical Services workforce and leadership. Together, we save and sustain the lives of community members.

2023 Vanguard Award Winners Announced


Amanda Riordan
Vice President, Membership

American Ambulance Association Announces Inaugural Vanguard Award Winners

Washington D.C. – The American Ambulance Association (AAA) is proud to announce the winners of the inaugural Vanguard Awards. The Vanguards honor those who blazed the trail for fellow women EMS professionals, and the 23 winners represent a diverse group of dedicated individuals who have made significant contributions to mobile healthcare.

“We are thrilled to recognize these trailblazers who have paved the way for women in EMS,” said Randy Strozyk, President of AAA. “Their dedication, perseverance, and commitment to excellence have not only elevated their own careers but have also helped to advance the entire profession.”

Lori Burns | National Vice President of Learning, Global Medical Response | Denver, Colorado
Denise Carson | President, Med-Tech EMS | Morrilton, Arkansas
Sherry Carson | President, Monticello Ambulance Service, Inc. | Monticello, Arkansas
Diana Cataldo | Founder/Treasurer, Cataldo Ambulance Service, Inc | Middleton, Massachusetts
Cindy Elbert | President, Cindy Elbert Insurance Services, Inc. | Peoria, Arizona
Linda Frederiksen | Executive Director, MEDIC EMS | Davenport, Iowa
Dia Gainor | Executive Director, National Association of EMS Officials (NASEMSO) | Falls Church, Virginia
Debby Gault | Retired/Consultant, AMR | Waterford, Wisconsin
Dr. Marianne Gausche-Hill | Medical Director, Los Angeles County EMS Agency | Santa Fe Springs, California
Blanche Hill | Co-Founder, Superior Air-Ground Ambulance Service, Inc. | Elmhurst, Illinois
Kristine Kern | Paramedic Professor, San Jacinto College | San Jacinto, Texas
Susan Long | Vice President, Emergency Medical Services, Allina Health EMS | St. Paul, Minnesota
Tracey Loscar | Deputy Director, MatSu Borough EMS | Palmer, Alaska
Pam McBeath | President/ CEO, Balentine Ambulance Service Inc. | Shreveport, Louisiana
Susan McHenry | EMS Director (Retired), State of Virginia | Highlands Ranch, Colorado (Honored Posthumously)
Carol Meyer | Director, Government Relations, McCormick Ambulance | Compton, California
Carol Pafford | Vice President Emeritus, Pafford Medical Services | Hope, Arkansas
Jamie Pafford-Gresham | President/CEO, Pafford Medical Services | Hope, Arkansas
Helen Pierson | Chief Executive Officer, Medic Ambulance | Vallejo, California
Julie Rose | Director of Policy & Advocacy, Superior Air-Ground Ambulance Service, Inc. | Ashtabula, Ohio
Lauren Rubinson | Founder and CEO, MedEx Ambulance Service | Skokie, Illinois
Janet Smith | Owner and President, On Assignment | San Diego, California
Debbie Vass | Chief Administrative Officer, Sunstar Paramedics | Largo, Florida

The Vanguard Awards are presented in collaboration with Women in Emergency Services (WiES), a newly-founded organization dedicated to supporting and advancing women’s careers in the emergency services industry through empowerment, networking, mentorship, and education.

The winners will receive complimentary registration to the American Ambulance Association Annual Conference & Trade Show in Las Vegas on June 26-28, 2023. They will also be recognized at the President’s Reception on the evening of June 27, and their profiles will be featured on the AAA website and social media.

“The Vanguard Awards celebrate the accomplishments of women who have broken down barriers and opened doors for future generations,” said Strozyk. “We are proud to honor their legacy.”

About the American Ambulance Association

The American Ambulance Association safeguards the future of mobile healthcare through advocacy, thought leadership, and education. AAA advances sustainable EMS policy, empowering its members to serve their communities with high-quality on-demand healthcare. For more than 40 years, AAA has proudly represented those who care for people first.

American Ambulance Association 2021 Award Winners Announced

Media Contact
Amanda Riordan


Washington, DC, October 5, 2021—Shawn Baird, President of the American Ambulance Association (AAA), announced the 2021 Award Winners at the AAA board meeting on September 21st.  The awardees are as follows:

Affiliate of the Year

  • The Mercury Group – for their strategic outreach shining the light and attention on the role that EMS plays in the pandemic.
  • Sellers Dorsey – for their efforts in support of state Medicaid supplemental payments for EMS providers.

Partnership of the Year

  • International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), and the National Association of EMTs (NAEMT) for their collaboration throughout the pandemic on both legislative and regulatory issues.

Distinguished Service Award

  • Jon Krohmer, Director, NHTSA’s Office of EMS – for his tireless efforts during the Public Health Emergency (PHE).
  • Maria Bianchi, AAA Chief Executive Officer – for her unwavering dedication and leadership through a global pandemic.

President’s Award

  • Asbel Montes, Acadian Ambulance Service, Lafayette, Louisiana for his leadership on ground ambulance policies, future payment reform initiatives, and balance billing.

Robert L Forbuss Lifetime Achievement Award

  • Josef (Joe) Penner, Medic (Mecklenburg EMS Agency) for his decades of service, leadership, and vision in EMS.

Walter J. Schaefer Award

  • Rachel Harracksingh, Life Ambulance, El Paso, Texas for her leadership, guidance, and tenacity in growing AAA’s political outreach and presence on Capitol Hill.

The Awards will be presented at the AAA Annual Conference and Trade Show President’s Reception on Tuesday, November 2, 2021, at the Gaylord Hotel in Grapevine Texas.

About the American Ambulance Association

The American Ambulance Association safeguards the future of mobile healthcare through advocacy, thought leadership, and education. AAA advances sustainable EMS policy, empowering our members to serve their communities with high-quality on-demand healthcare.


2021 40 Under 40 | Jason Kirk | South Carolina

40 Under 40 nominees were selected based on their contributions to the American Ambulance Association, their employer, state ambulance association, other professional associations, and/or the EMS profession.

Jason Kirk
Manager Ambulance Services
Prisma Health Ambulance Services
Simpsonville, South Carolina
Nominated by: Steven Howell


Jason Kirk has been a Paramedic for over 16 years in the Upstate of South Carolina. Starting out in the Explorer program with Greenville County EMS, Jason has held various paid EMS positions including Flight Paramedic and most recently Manager over Ambulance Services for the 2020 South Carolina Large EMS System of the Year. Jason has a Bachelors of Science from Columbia Southern University in Emergency Services Administration and is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Anderson University in South Carolina. Jason has spent his entire life in the Upstate of South Carolina and currently resides in Simpsonville with his wife and their two children.

Reason for Nomination

Jason Kirk has held many positions in EMS over the years and has excelled in each one. Most recently as a Supervisor with Prisma Health Ambulance Services, Jason was instrumental in leading the development and implementation of a hospital discharge lounge to improve patient throughput for one of the largest hospital systems in South Carolina. Jason has stepped into several roles including managing non-emergency transport/PACE transportation for both Upstate Prisma and the Midlands Prisma locations. Accepting a promotion in 2021 Jason assumed the role of Manager Ambulance Services and has been instrumental in managing new IT projects, improving throughput for the healthcare system, and reducing and eliminating waste through oversight of supply order. Jason is a leader that his teammates are willing to follow and sets an example for others. Jason has an amazing future within EMS and puts his heart and soul into taking care of the patients and team members that he encounters on a daily basis. For this reason, Jason Kirk is deserving of the 40 under 40 for mobile healthcare.

2021 40 Under 40 | Ben Summer | Minnesota

40 Under 40 nominees were selected based on their contributions to the American Ambulance Association, their employer, state ambulance association, other professional associations, and/or the EMS profession.


Ben Summer
Regional Clinical Manager
Life Link III
8009 34th Ave S, Suite 1300, Minnesota
Nominated by: Kolby Kolbet


Ben Summer is a Regional Clinical Manager for Life Link III where he oversees bases located in Alexandria and Willmar, Minnesota. He joined Life Link III in 2013 as a Flight Paramedic at the Alexandria Base. Ben has also held positions at Life Link III as Base Lead and Field Training Officer in Alexandria. Prior to joining Life Link III, Ben worked at Stevens County Ambulance Service in Morris, MN, and FM Ambulance in Fargo, ND. Ben holds an Associate’s Degree in Paramedicine from Bismarck State College. Ben was a recipient of the Minnesota Ambulance Association’s Star of Life award in 2017. Outside of Life Link III, Ben volunteers as a Tactical Paramedic for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team.

Reason for Nomination

Ben has been at Life Link III since 2013 where he began as a flight paramedic. Over the past 8 years, has gradually advanced his career serving as a Base Lead and now in his current role as Regional Clinical Manager in which he is responsible for the oversight of about 30 clinicians. He also routinely serves as clinical manager on call in which he provides clinical oversight and advice for our entire clinical cohort of 125 people and is a highly respected colleague.

Ben has spent his entire career serving as a servant leader. Ben is able to relate not only to his patients and their families but the entire community he serves. Ben has one priority in his career and that is to serve others. Ben is always looking to further educate himself and seek out every opportunity to assist others in need. Ben demonstrates the commitment to his communities through his involvement as serving on Regional Trauma Advisory Committees as well as the Douglas County SWAT team.

Ben is committed to clinical excellence by setting the standard and communicating the expectations of his clinical staff. Ben leads by example and is continuously providing constructive feedback when reviewing clinical documentation. Ben is keenly aware that in order to provide the highest level of clinical care, we must be fiscally responsible. Ben made it his own initiative to begin tracking our Whole Blood inventory in an effort to minimize the unnecessary waste/cost of a precious resource. This initiative reduced waste by 20%.

Not only does Ben serve alongside his peer managers, but he is also always willing to assist in any way he can. Whether it’s covering for others while they are away or helping a new base lead or mentor a new clinical manager, Ben can always be counted on. Ben holds all his peers accountable to ensure that the patient and our employees are the main priority when making decisions. Ben has the gift to naturally lead in a way that comes across as his willingness to not only identify a problem but to also provide a solution.

No grass will grow under Ben’s feet as he continues on his steep growth trajectory. Not only has been obtained several professional certifications, Ben is also pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Nursing.

Ben has been awarded the Star of Life for his heroic actions while responding to a tragic air medical crash that occurred at his base of operations. It was that night where he sprang into action to take care of the crew injured in that horrific crash and assisted the local emergency department in providing care to these injured colleagues. Ben has also been recognized as an emerging leader in the industry and was the recipient of the Medevac Foundation International’s scholarship to the Medical Transport Leadership Institute where he will earn his Certified Medical Transport Leadership Institute.

Ben is a person of integrity and sees the potential in everyone he interacts with. Ben is driven, determined, and destined for excellence as he serves in this service-oriented industry.

2021 40 Under 40 | Lesley Osborn | Texas

40 Under 40 nominees were selected based on their contributions to the American Ambulance Association, their employer, state ambulance association, other professional associations, and/or the EMS profession.

Lesley Osborn
Medical Director
Memorial Hermann Life Flight
6411 Fannin St Houston, Texas
Nominated by: Justin Reed


Dr. Osborn attended Clemson University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She then attended medical school at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, graduating in 2013. Dr. Osborn chose to continue her career in Columbia, SC and graduated in June 2016 from the Palmetto Health Emergency Medicine Residency Program.

Dr. Osborn relocated to Houston, TX, where she completed the EMS Fellowship program at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston in June of 2017. She now serves as an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, McGovern Medical School. She is currently double board-certified in Emergency Medicine and Emergency Medical Services. Dr. Osborn was appointed to the position of Medical Director of Memorial Hermann Life Flight® in July of 2019.

Reason for Nomination

Dr. Lesley Osborn carries many more titles than MD. You could address her as Director, Deputy, Captain, Paramedic, or Doctor and they would all be correct. No matter which title you use, Dr. Osborn is the epitome of leadership. Her personal motto could easily be that of the squadron she will soon deploy with: “That Others May Live.” She most recently embodied this motto by volunteering for service with the Texas Emergency Medical Task Force to care for some of the first patients with COVID19 in the United States – those evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship to San Antonio, Texas in February 2020.

Dr. Osborn has been instrumental to prehospital success in the Houston area as well as the region, state, and nationally. After completing her EMS Fellowship at UT Houston in 2017, she pioneered the first ground transport service to carry whole blood, paving the way for countless more. She is currently the Medical Director for Memorial Hermann Life Flight, where she is creating positive change to elevate patient outcomes. Their initiative is to improve the time from initial injury to operating room by implementing prehospital scene activation of the Operating Room and bypassing the emergency department at one of only two Level 1 trauma centers serving over 5 million residents of the Houston area. Dr. Osborn’s leadership and clinical acumen do not stop at the local or regional level. In February of 2020, she served as the unit physician for the first Coronavirus Quarantine Unit in the United States. In the summer of 2021, Dr. Osborn is now deploying as a flight surgeon with the United States Air Force Pararescue squadron in support of the global war on terrorism.

As a young leader, her list of achievements continues to grow. Still, her most important contribution is the support and mentorship she provides to every prehospital provider she encounters.
We are incredibly fortunate to call Dr. Osborn a friend and are grateful for her tremendous achievements.

2021 40 Under 40 | Justin Reed | Texas

40 Under 40 nominees were selected based on their contributions to the American Ambulance Association, their employer, state ambulance association, other professional associations, and/or the EMS profession.

Justin Reed
Assistant Chief, EMS
Cy-Fair Fire Department
10710 Telge Rd, Houston TX 77095
Nominated by: Lesley Osborn


Justin Reed is currently the Assistant Chief – EMS for Cy-Fair Fire Department. As the overall EMS Director, he is responsible for all activities involving the 130 full-time paid staff, 13 ambulances who respond to approximately 30,000 calls annually, covering a population of 640,000. Previously he was the Clinical Manager for Harris County Emergency Services District #5. Justin has over 10 years of progressively responsible experience delivering the highest quality of leadership, patient care, and customer service.

Justin Reed is a Cum Laude honors graduate of Western Carolina University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Emergency Medical Care with a minor in management. Also recognized as a Fellow of the American College of Paramedic Executives, 2020.

Justin has volunteered with numerous organizations including a non-profit organization in Haiti providing prehospital care, education, and equipment. He serves in numerous committees including the National Association of EMS Managers, where he is the immediate former Chair of the Quality and Performance Improvement Committee. Also, he is involved with EMTF6 as both an Ambulance Strike Team Leader and a member of the Mobile Medical Unit. As an instructor, Justin holds various certifications and has taught both domestically and internationally with a strong passion for evidence-based medicine and prehospital care in Haiti.

Reason for Nomination

I have had the pleasure of knowing Chief Reed professionally for over four years now. I currently serve as the Assistant Medical Director for Cy-Fair Fire Department where he is at the helm as the Assistant Chief of EMS.

As a healthcare professional and executive, Chief Reed’s fundamental goal has been to use his knowledge and abilities to increase the outcomes and well-being of those in his community. He centers his work around this mission, applying it with his patients, team, family, and himself. With nearly two decades of cumulative experience in emergency medical services (EMS) as a paramedic, volunteer firefighter, 9-1-1 dispatch supervisor, clinical manager, educator, and EMS director, Justin has a deep understanding of prehospital medicine. He is well acquainted with both the challenges and the immense opportunities in this critical stage of care to improve the health of populations.

As EMS director, he is the leader of an emergency healthcare delivery system of over 600 members in the Greater Houston Metroplex, overseeing a 25-million-dollar budget that serves an ever-growing population of over 600,000. Daily, he manages the competing interests of numerous multi-disciplinary stakeholders, from elected officials, hospital executives, public safety directors, and regulatory officers to his EMS command staff. Since his 2016 start, I have had the opportunity to watch Justin transform the Cy-Fair EMS system from a service line seen as a necessary evil into a high-performance, evidence-based, quality-driven division that motivates change at the local, state, and national levels.

There are many examples of Chief Reed’s ability to approach problems with innovative solutions, and I would like to go into detail about one here:

Chief Reed’s desire to innovate permeates his leadership approach. He constantly challenges the status quo, “good enough,” or “the way it’s always been done.” Texas, which is home to more federal disaster declarations than any other state, has proven to be fertile ground for honing his leadership skills and abilities. In 2015, while deployed as a task force leader in response to a regional flooding event, Justin’s team recognized a problem—and an opportunity for innovation. A swift water asset assigned to his team’s base had become ill from a water-borne virus commonly found in the living conditions of such disaster operations. The illness made the critical personnel unable to complete their mission, and there was an immediate need to treat this specialized team. As a preventative measure, Justin not only worked with managers onsite to increase hygiene but also sought acute care. He and his team started to treat the sick members of the swift water team with the expectation of a 24-hour rehabilitation time for a return to operations. Unfortunately, they were unable to fulfill their goal: a state official approached them to remind them that the mission was to protect citizens, not treat members of the deployment. The orders were made exceedingly clear, and the team respected their authority and demobilized. The swift water team returned home immediately, still sick. Not only did this threaten the crew members’ safety by postponing their care, but it also delayed the emergency response operation, which ultimately risked the welfare of the very citizens whom they were charged to protect.

Concluding the 2015 flooding deployment, Chief Reed vowed to never again let such medical oversights occur. He recognized that there was a system issue: the model typical of large-scale disaster management is that responders are not provided proper healthcare but instead expected to use personal supplies to take care of themselves, often resulting in attrition and delay of care to citizens. His solution: the Force Protection Strike Team.

Justin’s goal was to treat responders at minimal cost and ensure that disaster response teams remained healthy and able to fulfill their duties. For the next year, he led a team that designed a program and training regimen for a specialized group of providers to function as mid-level clinicians capable of treating other responders. In the process, he met with state officials to secure the approval for the outfitting of a team with a complete disaster medical clinic prepared for rapid deployment.

The first opportunity to use the Force Protection Strike Team arose in 2017 during the devastating Hurricane Harvey. The teams received approval three days before Harvey’s first landfall and were mobilized throughout Southeast Texas, caring for our own and ensuring a fast-paced operation that kept everyone engaged. Next, the team mobilized in 2018 during the wildfire season in West Texas, during which over 500 personnel combatted a fire more than 400 miles away from the nearest trauma center. The strike team’s most notable achievement during this deployment was reducing the attrition rate from 16-19 percent to less than one percent. Chief Reed had succeeded in creating an efficient model to care for the first responders on the front line, thus ensuring the ability to care for the community.

Following the program’s success, his team garnered the attention of the Texas governor and emergency management chief. He delicately highlighted a gap in care: that the state was still deploying thousands of responders without adequate force protection. Elected officials convened a summit and a formal state model for force protection based on the program that Chief Reed helped develop was established. This led to the creation of additional teams statewide. Now, in Texas, when a large-scale disaster is declared, these teams are prepared to be mobilized at a moment’s notice, with one goal in mind — to keep our first responders safe and in the fight.

I could continue to give examples of Justin as an excellent EMS leader and of his innovative approach to system issues. However, I’ll leave you with something that I feel is important. Chief Reed has a passion for improving healthcare in the prehospital setting. His vision for improving access to care, preventing readmissions, and incorporating evidence-based practice in the field is a rarity. In my opinion, he is a resource that is still untapped. I expect we will be talking about his accomplishments and contributions to the specialty of EMS often in the next several years.

It is my pleasure to give my highest recommendation of Chief Justin Reed to the committee making the selection for 40 under 40 for mobile healthcare.

2021 40 Under 40 | Sandra Whaley | California

40 Under 40 nominees were selected based on their contributions to the American Ambulance Association, their employer, state ambulance association, other professional associations, and/or the EMS profession.

Sandra Whaley
Vice President of Communications
Medic Ambulance Service
506 Couch Street, California
Nominated by: Rob Lawrence


Sandra Whaley is the Vice president of Communications for Medic Ambulance of Vallejo, California. Her career in EMS began in 1998 as a Billing Office Specialist before morning not EMS Dispatch in 2005, becoming Communications Center Manager in 2007 and VP Communications in 2012. Under Sandras leadership, Medic gained ACE accreditation from the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch and she also contributed to CAAS accreditation resulting in Medic being only a very few organizations across the country to have both ACE and CAAS accreditation. Sandra is a certified Communication Center Manager (CCM) and has a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from California State University.

Reason for Nomination

Without a doubt, the excellence of any EMS system starts with the phone call. It is acknowledged that life-saving is initiated by our heroes in headsets – our Call Takers and Dispatchers. The leadership of our emergency communication functions is as essential towards operational success as field supervisors are. The contribution that Sanda Whaley has made to the success of MEDIC ambulance has been immeasurable. Under her leadership, Medic attained ACE accreditation, and her contribution as a leader no doubt contributed towards the organization’s CAAS accreditation. Sandra has expanded her experience and knowledge into her local community and Sandra has also been both a board member and chair of the Solano County Community Healthcare Board. Priority Dispatch recently noted Sandra as a ‘remarkable woman who has worked her way up the ranks to now serve as the VP of Communications’ They featured her as part WomensHistoryMonth where she offered the sage advice – “To those coming into this industry, you need to make sure that you have empathy for the people who are calling,” she says. “Some of them are calling in on the most difficult day of their life. Our job is to guide them through giving us the right information so that we can get help to them quickly.” Sandra has the right attitude and approach to be a leader of the future that continues to lift the emergency communication element of our profession to further heights. She is therefore a deserving candidate for 40 under 40 recognition.

2021 40 Under 40 | James Pierson | California

40 Under 40 nominees were selected based on their contributions to the American Ambulance Association, their employer, state ambulance association, other professional associations, and/or the EMS profession.

James Pierson
President and COO
Medic Ambulance Service
506 Couch Street, California
Twitter: @JPmedic632
Nominated by: Rob Lawrence


James Pierson FACPE is President and Chief Operating Officer of Medic Ambulance of Vallejo, California. He has spent his entire working life working from the bottom up within the company. He began as a logistic, System Support Technician 20 years ago and subsequently working his way up in every post from Dispatcher to COO. Jimmy has leveraged his knowledge across both state and country and is a member of many boards and associations and he is currently the Vice President of the California Ambulance and was recently appointed as a board member of the International Association of Healthcare Integration. Jimmy has been the recipient of many awards, most notably the 2018 State of California Paramedic of the Year and a California Meritorious Service Medal in 2019.

Reason for Nomination

James ‘Jimmy’ Pierson has devoted his life to EMS. he understands the business and operations of EMS from top to bottom and local to national. As a and organization and state leader, Jimmy is also now beginning to make his presence felt at the national level. He is dynamic, enthusiastic, and totally focused on the improvement of EMS as a profession and the people who work and serve in it. Jimmy is ready, willing and able to share best practice always and is fast becoming a national Subject Matter Expert via webinars and presentations that is increasing his expert exposure to EMS operators everywhere. Jimmy exemplifies the reason we now seek to identify and recognize our 40 under 40 as they are truly the future of EMS leadership and given his current trajectory, we fully expect to see him leading on the national stage in the future.

2021 40 Under 40 | Jacob Grant | Oregon

40 Under 40 nominees were selected based on their contributions to the American Ambulance Association, their employer, state ambulance association, other professional associations, and/or the EMS profession.

Jacob Grant
Director of Operations
Metro West Ambulance
Nominated by: Tom BeLusko


Jacob Grant is an effective hands-on leader with 17 years of EMS experience. As Director of Operations, he is dedicated to maintaining excellent customer service for the patients and communities served by Metro West Ambulance. In his role, Jacob is responsible for the growth and operations of various departments which include Ambulance, Non-Emergent Transport, Wheelchair, and Critical Care & specialty services. Jacob began his career as a volunteer EMT and learned his passion for EMS as a dedicated member of the Metro West Family of Companies. Daily Jacob is responsible for statistics involving call volume, performance measurements to maintain contract compliance for hospital/county contracts, and overall operational achievement. Being an experienced paramedic, combined with the skill set of being a dynamic manager, is a powerful set of tools in supporting the mission of EMS.

Reason for Nomination

During the historic period of the COVID-19 pandemic, EMS has been tested like no other time in American history. Traversing these challenges and opportunities takes skill, knowledge, experience, ability, drive, and determination and Jacob exhibits all of these qualities to a high degree. Mr. Grant has demonstrated tremendous commitment to his community’s healthcare by using his expertise to make a difference in the lives of people that need it the most. Metro West Ambulance is internally grateful for the leadership exhibited during these difficult times and Jacob should be commended for initiative and steady leadership.

2021 40 Under 40 | Ryan Huser | Wisconsin

40 Under 40 nominees were selected based on their contributions to the American Ambulance Association, their employer, state ambulance association, other professional associations, and/or the EMS profession.

Ryan Huser
Lead Paramedic Instructor at Mid-State Technical College
Mid-State Technical College
Ripon, Wisconsin
Nominated by: Joshua Schmidt


Ryan started his journey in Emergency Medicine in 2007 at the tender age of 19. He started as a volunteer Firefighter/First Responder for Grand Rapids Volunteer Fire Department (2007-2011). Ryan had been in the National Guard (2005-2013) and had enrolled in classes at Mid-State Technical College for EMT-Basic, Paramedic, and finally Critical Care Paramedic. He had then started working at Baraboo District Ambulance Service (2010-2015) as a full-time Critical Care Paramedic and part-time at United Emergency Medical Response (2010-2012). In 2015, Ryan began work as a Hyperbaric Safety Technician at Agnesian Healthcare in Fond du Lac, as well as Ripon Volunteer Fire Department (2015-2016) and Ripon Guardian Ambulance Service (2015-Present). Ryan then turned to education as an Adjunct Instructor at Baraboo District Ambulance Training Center (2012-2015) and a Lead Instructor for the Paramedic Program at Mid-State Technical College (2015-Present). Ryan also has a Master’s in Disaster and Emergency Response Management.

Reason for Nomination

Ryan’s career has led him through many trials and successes throughout his time in EMS. Lately, Ryan has undertaken multiple projects that have been recognized at both the State and the National level. The first and biggest has been the Pilot of the EMT Practical Registry. Ryan was at the front of designing and refining the Pilot and through his success, the Pilot has been recognized throughout all 50 states. Ryan has also contributed to rewriting the curriculum for the state and is now a certified Registry Examiner. Within the last year, he has also been a part of the creation of the new Simulation Center at Aspirus Riverview in Wisconsin Rapids, securing a partnership with Mid-State Technical College. He was a part of this project while transitioning his Paramedic Program into a virtual and hybrid instruction system during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ryan is also a Training Officer for Ripon Guardian Ambulance Service where he helps with the SMP Manual. Ryan has undertaken many projects and many people feel the need to recognize him for his accomplishments.

2021 40 Under 40 | Brian Hupp | Tennessee

40 Under 40 nominees were selected based on their contributions to the American Ambulance Association, their employer, state ambulance association, other professional associations, and/or the EMS profession.

Brian Hupp
Director of Emergency Medical Services
Maury Regional Health
1701 Creekstone Drive, Tennessee
Nominated by: Rob Lawrence


Brian Hupp is the director of EMS at Maury Regional Medical Center in Columbia, Tenn. Over the past decade, he has served in multiple roles with the Richmond Ambulance Authority and was previously an offshore medic for Acadian Ambulance and assistant fire chief for the Mechanicsburg Fire Department in Ohio. He is a graduate of the American Ambulance Association’s Ambulance Service Manager program and an associate with Fitch & Associates.

Reason for Nomination

Brian Hupp has developed a range of experiences and career development over the last 10 years that identify him as someone to watch in the future. From a supervisor at the Richmond Ambulance Authority, where he honed his skills as an operational leader, via the Ambulance Service Managers Course and onto Fitch and Associates, where he served as Senior EMS Consultant. Brian has now found his niche as the Director of EMS at a hospital-based EMS agency where his life experiences can now all be brought together and dispensed as the leader of his own workforce.

This has been the culmination of his career to date and he is doing an excellent job. On his watch, his system has implemented a Community Paramedic and Nurse Practitioner in the Community program used his considerable Emergency Management / ICS skills to assist with the planning with the response to the COVID pandemic in his locality as well as be a leading player in the ongoing vaccination program. In the last year, Brian also caught, suffered, and recovered from COVID 19 but throughout was focussed and concerned about the wellbeing of his staff and the care of patients in his locality. Brian is also making his mark as a national-level writer and speaker and has attended several National conferences lecturing on operational subjects. His operational and leadership experience marks him apart from many of his peers and he is truly an EMS 40 under 40.

2021 40 Under 40 | Jeremey Hollrah | Missouri

40 Under 40 nominees were selected based on their contributions to the American Ambulance Association, their employer, state ambulance association, other professional associations, and/or the EMS profession.

Jeremey Hollrah
Deputy Chief of Special Operations
St. Charles County Ambulance District
St. Charles, Missouri
Nominated by: Kyle Gaines


In 2020, St. Charles County Ambulance District Deputy Chief of Special Operations Jeremey Hollrah celebrates his 20th year of service to his community. His history of public service began immediately after high school when he enrolled in the District’s EMT program and began his career in EMS. The following year, he earned his Paramedic license and later attended the St. Charles County Fire Academy, successfully completing the Fire I & II courses. After gaining experience at Abbot EMS, Jeremey joined the team at St. Charles County Ambulance District in 2005. Within a year, he successfully applied to be part of the District’s Urban Search & Rescue Task Force and received numerous commendations for his leadership and patient advocacy. Among other honors, Hollrah was named Paramedic of the Year in 2011 by the Missouri Emergency Medical Services Association [MEMSA]. In 2014, Jeremey was promoted to Battalion Chief, a role that enabled him to mentor new Paramedics entering the SCCAD system.

Two years ago, a retirement among the District’s senior leadership team led to Jeremey’s promotion to Deputy Chief of Special Operations. In this multi-faceted role, Jeremey has ultimate oversight for the District’s special teams (Tactical EMS Unit, Urban Search & Rescue), manages our fleet of 50+ vehicles, and oversees supply chain logistics, among a multitude of other duties.

Jeremey and his wife, Kelly, reside in Orchard Farm – a rural community in St. Charles County where he also serves as Volunteer Fire Chief. The couple has two children – Blake and Brooke.

Reason for Nomination

Over the last two decades, Jeremey Hollrah has consistently defined what it means to be a public servant. In each of the roles he’s served, he’s looked for innovative opportunities for St. Charles County Ambulance District [SCCAD] to serve not only our 400,000 residents but the St. Louis Region and beyond.

Jeremey’s career in EMS began 20 years ago when he successfully completed the EMT Program at the organization with who he would one day work. Following graduation, he immediately began his Paramedic coursework at Hannibal Lagrange College, earning his EMT-P certification in 2002. For three years he worked at Abbot EMS in St. Louis County before returning to St. Charles County to work as a paramedic.

Within a year, Jeremey applied for and was accepted to the St. Louis Metro Urban Search and Rescue Task Force, and worked diligently to broaden his breadth of knowledge by earning certifications in more than a dozen specialties, including confined space rescue, swift water rescue, and Hazmat Incident Command, among others. After many years of demonstrated leadership and accountability, Jeremey was named USAR Task Force Leader.

Concurrently, Jeremey was a standout performer in day-to-day operations, proving himself a skilled clinician, staunch patient advocate, and dedicated colleague. His assertive actions on numerous high-acuity calls undoubtedly made life-altering differences for patients. In 2010, Jeremey was named SCCAD Paramedic of the Year, and the following year received the same honor from the Missouri Emergency Medical Services Association [MEMSA]. In 2014, Jeremey was promoted to Battalion Chief, a role that enabled him to mentor dozens of paramedics. His direct reports consistently provided positive feedback on his leadership.

In addition to his duties at SCCAD, Jeremey has since 2000 been an active member of the Orchard Farm Fire Protection District, a small, volunteer department that serves a rural portion of our community where he and his family reside. Since 2005, Jeremey has served as Volunteer Chief of the department.

In 2018, a retirement announcement by one of SCCAD’s senior leadership team members created an opening at the Deputy Chief level. Jeremey’s years of involvement and leadership on the USAR team, coupled with his management experience at Orchard Farm, made him a strong candidate for the Deputy Chief of Special Operations & Logistics position. The role is multi-faceted, involving ultimate oversight of not only the District’s special teams, but also supply chain logistics, product development, fleet management, and more. To say Jeremey has risen to the challenge would be an understatement. Since assuming the role, he has driven a number of forward-thinking initiatives forward that have benefited our region tremendously while concurrently helping manage numerous significant operational events that have taken place in St. Charles County.

Under his charge, the District has deployed two major operational assets: an AmbuBus and a Major Incident Response Unit. Working closely with USAR team members and the ambulance design committee, Jeremey worked to create functional units that can be deployed to a variety of incidents not only in our county but throughout the region. He ensured the projects were completed in a cost-effective manner, purchasing high-quality pre-owned models and successfully leveraging grant funding.

Since assuming the Deputy Chief role, several high-profile incidents in our community have tested our team, but under Jeremey’s leadership, we’ve come through each one successfully. Last year, the northern portion of our community was stricken with historic flooding so significant that it rendered one very small town an island unto itself. Knowing we could not leave the area uncovered or sacrifice response times, Jeremey collaborated with senior leadership to develop an operational plan to ensure residents had access to care. For 60+ days, USAR team members were stationed in Portage Des Sioux, transporting ill or injured individuals out by boat when needed.

Like every other EMS entity, COVID-19 has presented a challenge unlike any other in our organization’s history. While many individuals on our team have taken active roles to ensure we’re able to rise to the challenge, Jeremey’s involvement has been paramount to our success. From the onset of the pandemic, he worked quite literally side-by-side with officials from St. Charles County Emergency Management, Emergency Communications, and Public Health to ensure that as things rapidly unfolded and evolved, SCCAD had a seat at the table and was involved in the decision-making process for our community as a whole. As the person with oversight for supply chain logistics, the pandemic presented a challenge of product availability. As Safety Officer, he has worked to secure PPE and other necessary supplies not just for SCCAD personnel, but for fire and police departments county-wide. Creative thinking, perseverance, and relationships within our own community enabled Jeremey to keep everyone stocked and protected.

In recent months, residents of our community have organized a number of demonstrations/protests in our community. For each, Jeremey has collaborated with law enforcement, fire protection, and other agencies in our community to ensure the safety of residents. Thankfully, our events have been completely peaceful in nature, but nonetheless require a significant amount of planning and manpower.

Jeremey Hollrah is, presumably, at the midpoint of his career in emergency medical services, but in our estimation has already amassed a lifetime of accomplishments. The procedures, programs, and practices he’s put into place will pay dividends for our organization and region for years to come, and we’re proud to nominate him for the American Ambulance Association ’40 Under 40’ Class of 2021!

2021 40 Under 40 | Carly Alley | California

40 Under 40 nominees were selected based on their contributions to the American Ambulance Association, their employer, state ambulance association, other professional associations, and/or the EMS profession.

Carly Alley
Executive Director
Riggs Ambulance Service
Merced, California
Nominated by: Rob Lawrence


Carly Alley is the Executive Director of Riggs Ambulance Service of Merced California, a position she has held since early 2019. Before that and since 2007, Carly has held every operational role from EMT, through Operations Supervisor and then Manager to her current position. Carly completed her Ambulance Service Manager class in 2016 and has seen Riggs through a recent successful RFP process to remain operating in the Merced area. Carly is a Paramedic and began her public service career as a wildland firefighter with the US Forest Service.

Reason for Nomination

Carly Alley is worthy of praise and recognition in this year’s 40 under 40 program. She has risen through the ranks of her Merced CA based EMS system to be the Executive Director. She has a deep understanding of the operation of every facet of running and operating a 911 and Inter Facility Transport service, and she leads from the front. Recently, EMS1 selected and covered Carly as a female EMS leader who is a great example as a role model for gender equality in the industry. It noted that Carly is ‘blazing a trail for others to follow’. In addition to her duties as Rigg’s Chief, Carly is also a newly appointed Board Member of the California Ambulance Association where she is making a wonderful contribution. As the EMS industry matures, we must look to our under 40s to take the reigns of EMS leadership and administration. Carly has already achieved the role of a chief officer and will invariably offer much more in the future in both the state and national EMS arenas.

2021 40 Under 40 | Brian Bayani | Texas

40 Under 40 nominees were selected based on their contributions to the American Ambulance Association, their employer, state ambulance association, other professional associations, and/or the EMS profession.

Brian Bayani
Executive Director
Northwest Community Health
29530 Quinn Road, Texas
Nominated by: Marco Kimassi


Chief Brian Bayani started his career in 2000 as a municipal EMT in New Jersey. He has since worked as a paramedic, Communications Supervisor, Lead Clinical Educator, and Director of Clinical Services in the Houston, Texas area until 2014 when he joined Northwest Community Health as the Executive Director and EMS Chief. Chief Bayani is credentialed as a Fellow of the American College of Paramedic Executives (FACPE) and serves as the chair of the Lone Star College – Montgomery EMS Professions Advisory Committee. He is also a doctoral candidate in the Gary Cook School of Leadership at Dallas Baptist University.

Reason for Nomination

Since coming to Northwest Community Health, Chief Bayani has committed himself to servant leadership and exemplifying the organization’s core values of integrity, professionalism, compassion, and service. Chief Bayani oversaw the organization’s rebranding from Northwest Rural EMS Association to Northwest Community Health to more effectively communicate the organization’s mission and value proposition to the community. Chief Bayani spearheaded the organization’s first multi-year strategic planning initiative, including the creation of a mission-aligned, ten-year capital plan. He also directed the implementation of a third-party patient experience monitoring program, with five system clinicians recognized among the Top 50 in Texas for patient satisfaction in the first year of implementation.

Chief Bayani currently serves as the Chair of the Lone Star College – Montgomery EMS Professions Advisory Committee and has previously served on the EMS Professions Program Advisory Committee for Lone Star College – North Harris. Additionally, Chief Bayani previously chaired the Multidiscipline Mentoring Committee for the International Public Safety Association, and as President and Vice President for the Emergency Chaplain Group Board of Directors.

Chief Bayani’s leadership philosophy is people-focused. A comment from a recent 360-degree evaluation said Chief Bayani is an “[e]ncouraging leader who obviously cares for his team and the success of the organization. He is articulate and professional and has a depth of understanding regarding his profession that role models for others.” He believes that caring for clinicians and other team members ultimately leads to better care for the community. He is particularly passionate about provider well-being and has presented at conferences and scientific assemblies about well-being in EMS and the role of leadership. He is currently a candidate for a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies in the Cook School of Leadership at Dallas Baptist University, where he is preparing to defend his dissertation, “Exploring the Relationship Between Moral Injury, Supervisor Leadership Style, and Suicidal Behavior in Texas Paramedics.”

2021 40 Under 40 | Justin Kinsey | Maryland

40 Under 40 nominees were selected based on their contributions to the American Ambulance Association, their employer, state ambulance association, other professional associations, and/or the EMS profession.

Justin Kinsey
Vice President of Customer Success
Hereford, Maryland
Nominated by: Brian Balow


Justin Kinsey is the Vice President of Customer Success at Traumasoft, a provider of fully integrated EMS management software. In this role, he uses the combination of his experiences as an EMS provider and former commercial ambulance service manager to anticipate the evolving needs of customers, recommend and implement software enhancements and upgrades, and ensure that Traumasoft customers’ unique configuration requirements are met.

Justin is the former General Manager of Pulse Medical Transportation, a multi-state commercial ambulance service and mobility transportation provider. He previously taught public high school students in an EMT pathway at a magnet school for healthcare careers. Justin has worked and volunteered as a firefighter and EMT for nearly twenty years, including the unique experiences of contract firefighting at FOB Abu Ghraib, Iraq, and at McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

Reason for Nomination

Justin has dedicated his career to serving and improving the EMS industry. He began as a firefighter and EMT at the Hereford Volunteer Fire Company at age 16 and never looked back. Justin’s demonstrated commitment to innovation and advocacy makes him deserving of recognition as a rising star in the field of EMS.

As General Manager at Pulse Medical Transportation, he was responsible for innovations in emergency care including the first emergency telemedicine capability in the state of Maryland. He also oversaw the development of the most advanced, non-hospital-based critical care transport team in the state. Since regional critical care transport resources are sparse, this allowed for better outcomes for Maryland’s most acutely sick and injured patients.

In the absence of a statewide trade association, Justin has advocated proactively as an informal leader within the commercial ambulance industry. He speaks with lawmakers and has testified on proposed legislation during Maryland’s annual legislative sessions. He has served in several state-sponsored regulatory workgroups. In 2019, Justin was appointed by the governor to the Statewide Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council (SEMSAC). In that capacity, he represented Maryland’s commercial ambulance services in SEMSAC’s efforts to improve EMS delivery throughout the state.

Since 2008, Justin has stewarded the EMS profession by teaching emergency services classes to hundreds of students at the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute (a part of the University of Maryland), the state’s premier training and education system for emergency services. He also taught for two years in the Baltimore City Public School System (BCPSS) as an EMT instructor. During that time, he developed the curriculum and materials for the EMT pathway program and successfully obtained an ambulance simulator for his classroom. His hands-on teaching approach included personally precepting dozens of students during their field internship experiences on 911 ambulances.

Justin applies his considerable leadership experience to the benefit of his hometown, currently serving as the Chairman of the Board of the Hereford Volunteer Fire Company. Additionally, he served two years as the Vice President of Administration for the Baltimore County Volunteer Firemen’s Association, an organization that oversees Baltimore County’s volunteer fire/ems/rescue companies.

With his broad knowledge and experience in all facets of EMS, from patient care to transport logistics to education and political advocacy, Justin will continue to be an influential force for improvement in the field of EMS.

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