Great Idea | REMSA’s Thank You Notes Page

Reno, Nevada’s REMSA provides nationally recognized ground ambulance service within Washoe County, Nevada. Don’t miss their amazing new “Thank a Healthcare Provider” page, where members of their community are able to share digital thank you notes with REMSA’s Paramedics, EMTs, telecommunicators, pilots, and nurses as well as administrative and operations staff.

Check Out the REMSA Thank You Page

EMS Week Featured Service | Pafford Medical Services

Pafford Medical Services
Hope, Arkansas
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Meet Pafford Medical Services

Founded in 1967, Pafford Medical Services continues to provide over 80 communities with the latest, most sophisticated level of pre-hospital care. As a family-owned and operated company, Pafford serves communities across Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. With over 1200 members of Team Pafford, over 180 ambulances, 3 medical fixed-wing aircraft, 3 rotor-wing aircraft, 2 communications centers, and our corporate billing office, Pafford is staffed 24/7.

It is Pafford’s mission to provide its communities, healthcare partners, and facilities they serve with the highest standards of mobile healthcare. While providing communities with proper 911 ambulance coverage, the company has become known nationwide for its Special Response Taskforce which assists during national disasters. As the company evolves to cater to the citizens it serves, Pafford took notice of the needs of industries and businesses during the global pandemic and now operates OnSite Healthcare Services in order to safeguard workforces as the world resumes operation amidst COVID-19.  Another pillar of the company’s mission is its promise as a contributive community partner by providing educational resources, medical equipment, and scholarships along with medical standby for special events.

Pafford is fully equipped to provide the following services:

  • ALS/BLS Ground Ambulance Transportation
  • 911 Paramedic Ambulance
  • Mobile Integrated Healthcare Services
  • OnSite Healthcare Services
  • Air Medical Fixed-WingTransporation
  • Air Medical Rotor-Wing Transportation
  • Government and Industrial OnSite Services
  • Event Standby Services
  • Domestic and International Special Response Taskforce
  • Community Education Resources
  • Medical Billing

The Pafford Medical Services COVID-19 Response

It was evident that with the novel coronavirus, crew members would need to be properly trained to combat the transmission of the virus. Along with obtaining PPE for their medics, Pafford Medical Services provided additional, in-depth training and education to crew members all while increasing health surveillance, screening, and tracking of employees. Due to Pafford spanning across 5 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the company activated its Emergency Operations Center to provide support to its primary 911 PSAPS.

In these unprecedented times, Pafford Medical Services remained a leader in community discussions and decisions related to COVID-19. To better serve its communities, Pafford dedicated ambulances in their regions to coordinate the transport of COVID cases or suspected COVID cases. All of Pafford’s systems were able to remain fully operational thanks to the diligent work and daily communications with their leadership teams to keep all team members up to date on the latest information for their communities.

“We will never be able to fully express our gratitude to not only our management teams but to our boots on the ground who have been in the trenches remaining strong and vigilant over the past 10 weeks,” says CEO, Jamie Pafford-Gresham. “These men and women have gone above and beyond the call of duty, serving others, their communities, and their country during this global health crisis.”

The Pafford Medical Services Leadership Perspective

“As a rural EMS provider, our challenges on a day-to-day basis require our medics to be prepared to care for our communities, many of which do not have hospitals and with clinics working limited hours, our medics are always there 24/7/365.  We are the Healthcare Safety Net and our team does a wonderful, compassionate job. They don’t back down and provide a vital service to our citizens. During this outbreak, I am proud of not only our EMS team members but the entire EMS system across America for stepping up in such a critical time in our Country.”—Jamie Pafford-Gresham, CEO, Pafford Medical Services

Frontline Voices from Pafford Medical Services

“It takes a servant’s heart and a strong mind. But I count it as pure joy to help those in need.”-Alvin Short, Pafford EMS, Paramedic, Canadian County, OK

EMS is important because even when things get rough, the world keeps getting scarier and sickness continues to rise…we never quit.”—Meghann Jones EMT Pafford EMS, Canadian County, Oklahoma

“EMS is important because it provides immediate medical care to people who need it– bringing the ER to the patient in a timely manner.” Jarlicia Scott FTO/ Paramedic

“EMS is an extremely important part of community safety, doctors don’t make house calls anymore so EMS practitioners stand readily available to provide that extension of care while treating and managing acute illnesses and trauma.”—Randy Murry, EMS Operations Manager, Coahoma County, Mississippi,  Star of Life 2020

How Pafford Medical Services Celebrates EMS Week

Most people that know the Pafford Family, know that celebration is normally in the form of passing the plate, sharing in a meal, and most importantly, fellowship. Pafford Medical Services makes it a point to take a step back and bring families together, to recognize and honor the sacrifices made from all members of the families that have a loved one on the front-lines. This year, team gifts will be given out, but most importantly, Pafford realizes that the ultimate gifts are its people.

EMS Week Featured Service | Hall Ambulance Service, Inc.

Hall Ambulance Service, Inc.
Bakersfield, CA
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Meet Hall Ambulance Service

Hall Ambulance Service, Inc. was founded by Harvey L. Hall on February 10, 1971. Today, the Company serves as the 9-1-1 paramedic provider for 88% of Kern County, California’s population, or roughly 780,000 people.

Hall Ambulance provides advanced life support, basic life support, and regional ground and air interfacility transport solutions through Hall Critical Care Transport.

The Hall Ambulance Service COVID-19 Response

Weeks before the first confirmed patient was detected in our community, Hall Ambulance began implementing extensive measures in preparation for the coronavirus pandemic reaching Bakersfield and Kern County. An internal task force was formed to determine how best to confront this new disease. As of May 17, 204 Hall Ambulance employees have cared for and transported 221 confirmed COVID-19 patients; however, we are fortunate that zero employees have been infected with the virus.

One of the first places the Company focused its attention was by having its dispatchers use the Emerging Infectious Disease Surveillance (EIDS) tool enabling emergency medical dispatchers to advise crews responding to a suspected COVID-19 patient of the need to donn PPE prior to making patient contact.

Before the first transport of a suspected COVID-19 patient occurred, Hall Ambulance looked at best practices and then developed its own protocol for decontaminating ambulances involved in the transport of a coronavirus patient. This stringent process involves nearly four staffing-hours to complete, using hospital-grade germicidal wipes and spray approved by the CDC, and is performed by two technicians (in PPE), and a manager, who works from a safe zone to observe and document the process. As of May 18, 238 ambulances have been decontaminated so that they are properly sanitized and ready to respond to the next request for medical aid.

Hall Ambulance implemented a screening process for all employees prior to starting their shift to ensure they are not exhibiting symptoms. The screening includes a temperature check, and questions about sore throat, new or change in cough, and whether they are experiencing shortness of breath.

For those employees who came in contact with COVID-19 patients, the human resources department places daily phone calls to check on their well-being.

The Company has also worked to assist employees with locating daycare providers and provided financial assistance to cover the cost so those employees could provide care with the peace of mind knowing their little ones were safe and secure.

With the pandemic taking a toll on everyone, a licensed therapist was contracted to work with any employee who felt they needed additional support for their mental health.

To help minimize exposure for non-clinical staff, Hall Ambulance implemented staggered schedules and remote working.

The Hall Ambulance Service Leadership Perspective

“Hall Ambulance employees have raised the bar in their response to the coronavirus pandemic. The extra amount of care and compassion they are demonstrating to their patients, coworkers, and communities is inspiring and indicative of what emergency medical services is all about.”
Lavonne C. Hall, President &  CEO

Frontline Voices from Hall Ambulance Service

“I believe EMS is extremely important to be the immediate help that our patients often need. We are able to begin care and help gather information from our patients during our transport in the ambulance that will quicken treatment once at the hospital.”
Paramedic Jennifer Phillips

How Hall Ambulance Service Celebrates EMS Week

A few weeks ago, President and CEO Lavonne C. Hall introduced a “Heroes Work Here” campaign consisting of banners being placed at all ambulance post locations throughout the Company’s response area. For EMS Week, Hall Ambulance is presenting custom backpacks emblazoned with the “Heroes Work Here” logo to its employees in appreciation of everything they do. In addition, a social media campaign highlighting several of the paramedics, EMTs, RNs, and dispatchers will be posted throughout the week.

EMS Week Featured Service | Metro West Ambulance, Inc.

Metro West Ambulance, Inc.
Hillsboro, Oregon
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Meet Metro West Ambulance, Inc.

Metro West Ambulance Services, Inc. has a history rich in meeting the needs and caring for those we serve from very small rural communities to large urban areas. We’ve had great successes, marked many firsts in our industry, have been a part of the evolution of prehospital care over the decades. Founded in 1953, we have grown from a small base operation in  Forest Grove, Oregon to the largest and oldest continuously owner-operated ambulance service in the Pacific Northwest. Today our Family of Companies has over 900 employees and includes seven licensed ALS ambulance services in Oregon, one licensed ALS ambulance service in northern California, and one brokerage in Oregon serving the Pacific Northwest. Under the guidance of J.D. Fuiten, our founder’s son and our company’s owner and President, Metro West Ambulance has expanded into a Family of Companies serving Oregon, Washington and northern California.  Our companies include Metro West Ambulance, Pacific West Ambulance, Medix Ambulance, Bay Cities Ambulance, Umpqua Valley Ambulance, Mid-Valley Ambulance, Del Norte Ambulance and Woodburn Ambulance.

Metro West Ambulance , serving Washington County and the Portland Metro region provides  911 response and a variety of interfacility mobile healthcare services including Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU)  providing ICU RN level Critical Care transport; Secure Transport for behavioral health patients; EMT staffed wheelchair services plus a large event services division serving the largest venues and biggest events in our state.  We also are one of the largest providers of Mobile Integrated Health services with 18 Paramedics working with Oregon’s health systems.

The Metro West Ambulance, Inc. COVID-19 Response

In Oregon, our Governor declared a state of emergency and stay at home orders early on including school and business shut down. This allowed us to flatten the curve earlier as a state. We saw  PPE, decon, patient treatment changes became a daily occurrence; treatment changes; innovation regarding patient care; a deeper closeness with other agencies, sending and receiving hospitals because we were “in it together” and we knew this virus had no mercy and no one was immune. With the quarantine and school shut down came many tough concerns such as  childcare coverage. Crews worry about exposing their family and inadvertently bringing this awfulness home. Staff was impacted by worries about their patients who show signs of the virus, wondering if the patient survived and grieving for those who died. Instituting strict guidelines in and out of the ambulances and physical distancing to protect us all.  As we took on new challenges-we had staff expand their skill set in new roles in mobile integrated health partnering both regionally and across our country creating a virtual hospital to treat hospital patients in their own homes; our EMT’s learned how to do COVID19 testing; others in our industrial medicine division took the lead on temp checks for large employers; we created partnerships in our community that didn’t exist before.  Our Paramedics and EMTs in our 911 system took on new challenges of effectively treating and transporting these patients working with other responding agencies. Together we have learned to track how this virus spreads; to talk about how it is affecting everyone in all departments and most of all, together we continue to make plans knowing that the virus isn’t done with us.

The Metro West Ambulance, Inc. Leadership Perspective

” What sets us apart is that we  keep those we serve first and foremost believing that all communities no matter how small or how large deserve the best regarding mobile healthcare that includes emergency medical services, interfacility mobile healthcare and mobile integrated healthcare/community paramedicine models. Our people strive everyday to give their communities their best.”

J.D. Fuiten, Metro West Ambulance Services, Inc. , Owner/President

Frontline Voices from Metro West Ambulance, Inc.

“EMS is important because we are there to help people in need. It could be an emergency situation or a non-emergent trip the to the doctor. We care about people and the community and are here to serve.”—Rachael Koran, Operations Supervisor, EMT

“We in EMS are the best chance of survival many patients have when it comes to  sudden catastrophic injuries or illnesses. We’re not hesitant to step forward and do what needs to be done to care for those that need us.”—Jan Lee, Public Information Officer, Hospital Liaison, Paramedic

“When you have people who can no longer help themselves, we’re (EMS) the ones who are there to help them.”—Benjamin Maduell, Communications Center Floor Supervisor, EMT, EMD

How Metro West Ambulance, Inc. Celebrates EMS Week

In this  new era of social distancing, the celebrating is still on-just different.  We want our crews to know how important their work is;  what it means to the communities we serve to know that they are there for them;  and that most of all we value them knowing how hard this pandemic has been on them and their families.

We will be bringing a food cart to our main office with amazing Greek food instead of our traditional outdoor family party & BBQ.  We’ll have our crews text in their orders or pre-order them  for pickup allowing them to enjoy before or during or after shift- at their convenience.  This was our most popular food truck from the past.

Our cities will be doing EMS proclamations for us during their city council meetings that we can either Zoom into and they will also videotape it for us to play for our crews on screens in our crew room.  This will allow them to know that their communities support them.

We especially want to recognize them for the heroes they are….we’ll be setting out huge banners at our work sites with the messaging of “Heroes Work Here” . We’ll be doing social media blasting recognizing them all for what they do. We’ll be doing video messaging to them from our management and executive team thanking them for their service.

We want them all to know just how valued they are, how proud we are of them and how much they mean to all those around them.

EMS Week Featured Service | Harris County Emergency Corps

Harris County Emergency Corps
Houston, Texas
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Meet Harris County Emergency Corps

Committed to preserving lives through clinical excellence, progressive medicine, and professional service, Harris County Emergency Corps (HCEC) is a premier EMS agency and the only Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services accredited agency with headquarters in Houston.

HCEC was the first EMS agency formed in the state of Texas (1933). Serving approximately 400,000 citizens in 76 square miles in north Harris County, HCEC provides 911 services for Harris County Emergency Services District No. 1. HCEC also provides event medical coverage across Texas, trains clinicians with highly specialized classes, communicates with 11 other agencies through our innovative dispatch center, and leads Houston’s first Community Health Paramedic Program.

The Harris County Emergency Corps COVID-19 Response

With the pandemic of COVID-19, HCEC has seen a remarkable team pull together to tackle new challenges in our community and our organization.  Utilizing the power of social media, website content, and informational flyers for our community, we have attempted to keep the public informed of best practices and resources available to them for assistance.  Responding to emergencies with an emphasis on patient and crew safety has been a top priority.

Harris County and the Houston area has seen some of the highest number of cases in the State of Texas. As a result, our Dispatch center incorporated new tools and protocols to screen for COVID-19 symptoms.  With our special events division not staffing large gatherings, part-time event medics are helping in the Communications center with screenings, and also by staffing dedicated PPE units.  To ensure additional protection, the Clinical department implemented aggressive PPE usage guidance and modified medical guidelines early on in the pandemic to keep our team healthy and safe.

Communication is crucial, not only with the community, but also with the staff.  As such, the HCEC Management team holds daily conference calls and connects weekly with employees through virtual Town Hall meetings.  In addition, our Infection control officer communicates regularly with Hospital partners to determine if our patients are positive for COVID-19.

The Harris County Emergency Corps Leadership Perspective

“Our team is truly remarkable. Everyone is working together with a “whatever it takes” mentality to support each other and our community to the best of our ability during the Covid-19 pandemic.  As an example, HCEC volunteered with Gallery Furniture and Kroger to help distribute over 2,000 meal kits to seniors in and around our service area.”—Jeremy Hyde, CEO

Frontline Voices from Harris County Emergency Corps

“We get a chance to see people at their worst and make their day a little better. It’s about making a difference every day, whether it’s using ALS interventions, or just holding a patient’s hand to comfort them.” – Jodie Gutierrez, 911 Paramedic

“EMS is important because it gives us a chance to help those that need us most. It provides a comfort to know that we will always be there.” – Amanda Crystal, 911 Paramedic

“EMS is important because it helps to circle and close the loop within communities and population health.”– Steven Nelson, 911 Paramedic

Taking care of employees to the best of our abilities is always a top priority for HCEC.  Executive Director Jeremy Hyde has brought in a mobile barber for the staff to get free haircuts on two different occasions during COVID.  Ed Kolczynksi, Receptionist for HCEC had this to say about the experience, “This was just amazing! HCEC cares more about their employees than any other company I’ve ever worked for, and I’ve been working for a really long time! Not to mention, I got a great haircut, and it only cost me a $5.00 tip.”

Will Barrett, HR Coordinator for HCEC offers a positive effect from COVID; “COVID has brought people together. Neighbors wave more and say hello when we see each other; some have even offered us supplies, like masks and cleaners. We have more conversations from across our lawns with one another due to limited contact with other people, whereas before, we barely communicated.”

“For EMS support staff working remote, COVID-19 has changed the way we manage our ‘new normal’. Dining room tables have become our desks, and the refrigerator has become our enemy!”—Toya Thompkins, Payroll Coordinator

“EMS is extremely important, whether in a pandemic or a “normal” day in Houston. We respond to a variety of calls each day, and for many, it is one of the worst days of their life.  I see my co-workers make a difference in people’s lives every single day.” – Anonymous 911 medic

How Harris County Emergency Corps Celebrates EMS Week

EMS Week at HCEC will be different this year in a variety of ways. Typically we have a large banquet where we celebrate milestones and provide recognition awards. This year, however, we are scheduling a company-wide picnic later in the year when it is safe to celebrate in person with our staff and their families.

EMS week is also normally filled with daily social events at HCEC. Even though COVID19 will keep us from celebrating in a group setting, we will provide drop off service at each station for meals and snack baskets and conduct contests throughout the week for each shift.  In addition, our annual Commemorative T-shirt Design contest is already underway.  Employees who submit artwork utilizing the National EMS week slogan are entered into the contest.  The winning design artist is recognized in our newsletter and social media and awarded a $100 gift card, while all employees receive a free commemorative T-shirt celebrating EMS week.

HCEC will also be surprising the staff during EMS Week with an early distribution of our annual longevity bonus.

EMS Week Featured Service | Great Falls Emergency Services

Great Falls Emergency Services
Great Falls, Montana
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Meet Great Falls Emergency Services

Great Falls Emergency Services (GFES) has been providing primary ALS ambulance response to the City of Great Falls and communities in rural Cascade County since 1997. In addition to 911 response, GFES provides BLS, ALS, and Critical Care inter-facility transports, event standbys, and Mobile Integrated Healthcare services. GFES employees 54 Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians. The GFES fleet is comprised of six Type III ALS ambulances, a type I ALS unit, and two response vehicles.

The Great Falls Emergency Services COVID-19 Response

The COVID-19 situation necessitated some significant initiatives  at GFES including:

  1. modified pre-hospital protocols, including treatment in place, minimization of aerosolization procedures, and minimizing the quantity of first-responder patient contact
  2. office and workflow changes such as admin staff working from home and 24/7 duty crew screenings
  3. more sophisticated Personal Protective Equipment capabilities and protocols including decon procedures and capabilities

The GFES staff, once in possession of accurate and timely information, and once equipped properly, were fantastic. Our EMS Providers arrive early to work for screening procedures, responded aggressively to all calls for medical need, maintained an excellent ‘can-do’ attitude, and didn’t flinch in their mission to provide front-line response and medical care to their communities.

The Great Falls Emergency Services Leadership Perspective

My admiration for the men and women at GFES and their families knows no bounds; they approach difficult situations with professionalism, technical competence,  enthusiasm, and especially compassion.
—GFES President David Kuhn

Frontline Voices from Great Falls Emergency Services

“We are the first-line responders when someone is having a bad day due to sudden illness or injury. It means a lot to be able to be of service to our friends and neighbors when they are in need.” Kathy Wajer, Paramedic Supervisor and Critical Care Paramedic

“EMS handles the situations that no-one else can: the semi-responsive heavily intoxicated patient found on the street, the child with a broken arm at their Little League game, the elderly person at home having a stroke or cardiac issue–I like being able to contribute to a successful resolution of these events and to help the patient get through their difficult time” – Amber Malave, Paramedic Training Coordinator

How Great Falls Emergency Services Celebrates EMS Week

The centerpiece to our EMS Week celebration is a daily barbeque that Management puts on for that day’s crews (we put on our aprons and fire up a smoker to cook tri-tip, pork loin, and sirloins).

We also do daily bingo competitions with prizes and have general door prize drawings throughout the week. The community usually steps up and we receive a lot of deliveries of snacks and nice gifts.

We are also making vehicle decals that will be given out to staff. We typically offer a free community CPR class and offer child car seat installations.

EMS Week Featured Service | Eagle County Paramedic Services

Eagle County Paramedic Services
Edwards, Colorado
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Meet Eagle County Paramedic Services

Located in the heart of the Colorado Rockies and encompassing the world-class ski resorts of Vail and Beaver Creek, Eagle County Paramedic Services (ECPS) has a rich history in the valley. In 1967, the first ambulance service consisted of a station wagon driven by a doctor. Since then, Eagle County Paramedic Services has transitioned from Eagle County Ambulance District (1982) and Western Eagle County Ambulance District (1988) to the merging of Eagle County Health Service District and Western Eagle County Health Service District to form Eagle County Paramedic Services in 2013. ECPS is one of only six ambulance transport agencies, out of 200 in Colorado, to be nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS).

ECPS operates out of five ambulance stations in Vail, Avon, Edwards, Eagle and Gypsum, Colorado and covers approximately 1,692 square miles. 80 employees work for the district in various roles with the largest division being operations to respond to emergency calls. Other services include community paramedicine, telehealth, youth programs, senior health and wellness and support for special events including major events like the GoPro Mountain Games, FIS World Cup Ski Races, Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships, Colorado Classic bicycle race and others.

The Eagle County Paramedic Services COVID-19 Response

Eagle County, Colorado was one of the first “hot spots” in Colorado and in the nation. Due to the excellent foresight and preparation by ECPS administration and cooperation between the health care entities and first responders, Eagle County was able to “get in front” of the virus and help flatten the curve.

ECPS crews not only responded to 911 calls but also transported patients to Denver-area facilities–transfers that could take eight-12 hours. The escalation of the virus took place in March, when the Rocky Mountains are still in full-on winter mode, adding inclement weather (snow, ice, etc.) to the stress of these transfers.

In addition to creatively sourcing PPE for crews (including utilizing Helly Hansen rain suits that are durable and reusable rather than disposable gowns), ECPS thought outside of the box on a number of issues. These solutions included hiring members of the Vail and Beaver Creek Ski Patrol, many of whom have extensive first responder experience and some who are former EMTs, as surge crew in case full-time crews became sick or overstretched.

As Eagle County has moved into the first phase of opening up businesses and supporting the residents, ECPS is pleased to report that none of our employees have tested positive for COVID-19, a remarkable feat considering the testing, transports and community support achieved during this unprecedented time. We will continue to provide skilled, professional and compassionate healthcare to our community no matter what the future might bring.

The Eagle County Paramedic Services Leadership Perspective

“Our entire organization has risen above and beyond the call of duty during our response to COVID, responding with innovation and agility throughout this response. These professionals are the finest group of people I have ever worked with.”—Christopher Montera, Chief Executive Officer, Eagle County Paramedic Services

Frontline Voices from Eagle County Paramedic Services

“Why do I think EMS is important? Imagine if no one came to your aid when you had your heart attack, your stroke, your car wreck, your fall. EMS has a direct effect on your quality of life: every patient, every call, every day.” —Peter Brandes, Chief Operating Officer (35 years in EMS)

“A typical EMS service is important because it allows immediate 911 medical care for those who need it. EMS in Eagle County, though, not only provides that immediate 911 care, but also provides search and rescue, SWAT, community paramedic outreach, and some of the most advanced critical care services in the state.” —Scott Harmsen, Paramedic Shift Supervisor

“An Important and early step in our healthcare system, EMS saves lives, buys time and triages our citizens’ and community’s needs.” —Hank Bevington, Paramedic Shift Supervisor

“Why do I find emergency response and paramedicine so important? The truest honor is I am part of something bigger than myself, meeting people where they are. When the chips are down, whether they are incapacitated or simply have lost control of their immediate situation, I have agency to render aid and connect resources that promote general welfare and personal health accross the spectrum of the human condition.”—Ryan Bush, paramedic

How Eagle County Paramedic Services Celebrates EMS Week

Eagle County Paramedic Services is celebrating in several ways. In lieu of physical, branded gifts this year, we’re distributing gift cards to local restaurants for our crews. In addition to supporting our local dining establishments (which are unable to operate as “business as usual” during the Coronavirus pandemic) and grocery stores, this focuses on an experience rather than “stuff” and allows them to share the support with their friends and family–in a socially distant, responsible way.

We’re also running a full-page “thank you” ad in our local newspaper and through local partner e-blasts and celebrating through social media channels like Facebook and Instagram.

EMS Week Featured Service | Cataldo Ambulance

Cataldo Ambulance
Somerville, Massachusetts
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Meet Cataldo Ambulance

Cataldo Ambulance Service was founded in 1977, and serves Eastern Massachusetts, providing 911 emergency response and EMD services, non-emergency ALS, BLS, and chair car transportation, and EMS education and training. In 2019 Cataldo was awarded the first license in Massachusetts for mobile integrated healthcare (MIH), and in 2020, was selected as a Massachusetts provider for the innovative new ET3 initiative. Cataldo is proud to have 800 staff and a fleet of 99 ambulances and 6 SmartCare Mobile Integrated Healthcare vehicles.

The Cataldo Ambulance COVID-19 Response

It was early on during the Massachusetts State of Emergency that the local healthcare community realized the value of having mobile integrated healthcare resources available to support assessing and testing patients, as well as managing mildly symptomatic COVID+ patients at home. Our SmartCare MIH team was suddenly in high demand and actively supporting efforts for many major hospitals and healthcare organizations throughout the Greater Boston area.

The Cataldo Ambulance Leadership Perspective

“I have never been more proud of our staff. Our front line responders continue to step up and support our communities with the highest level of professionalism and clinical excellence imaginable. Our Communications Center and support staff are equally impressive in their dedication and commitment.”
Diana Cataldo, Founder

Frontline Voices from Cataldo Ambulance

“When that 911 call comes in, it’s pretty important that it gets handled the right way and the right level of support is deployed. Those critical seconds spent fielding a call can make all the difference in the outcome for a patient.”

Tim Gorman, Emergency Medical Dispatcher

“I started out as an EMT.  Now I’m a Paramedic, sharing what I’ve learned in the field with others. I absolutely believe that what we do every day makes a difference to the people we serve.”

Ryan Kelley, Paramedic

How Cataldo Ambulance Celebrates EMS Week

Our organization will acknowledge EMS Week in May, but our formal celebration will be when we can be together in August. This coincides with our 43rd anniversary,  gives us something to look forward to and will allow us to share our appreciation with more of our team, and hopefully, in a less stressful environment.

EMS Week Featured Service | Bell Ambulance

Bell Ambulance
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Meet Bell Ambulance

Bell Ambulance
Bell Ambulance was founded in 1977. We proudly serve the community in southeast Wisconsin with 8 stations, 67 ambulances and almost 400 employees. We provide care on both 911 emergencies and interfacility transports and we have providers licensed from EMT to Critical Care Paramedic. We also provide EMS support for some of the largest festivals and sporting events in the State of Wisconsin. Our EMS staff are supported by an EMD Communication Center which has been honored as an Accredited Center of Excellence by the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch.

The Bell Ambulance COVID-19 Response

The COVID 19 Pandemic only confirmed what we have always known, we have a fantastic team of EMTs and Paramedics! Our crews continue to provide the same excellent patient care while protecting themselves and their patients. While we have not seen as large an outbreak as some other areas, we have treated many patients for COVID 19. What we did not fully anticipate was the large number of patients with COVID 19 who would be unable to get to their essential appointments, such as dialysis, by their usual means. In response to the pandemic, we have activated our Advanced Infectious Disease Team and they have been supporting our community by providing transportation for these individuals while they are in quarantine as well as responding to other calls for COVID 19.

The Bell Ambulance Leadership Perspective

“Milwaukee is a very diverse community, and has many of the challenges faced by larger cities.  Our staff care for the people of Milwaukee and southeast Wisconsin with professionalism, dignity, and confidence.  We are proud of them every day.”
Chris Anderson, Director of Operations

Frontline Voices from Bell Ambulance

“EMS is important because it’s bigger than us… not everyone can do it, and it’s one of the most selfless professions that a person can do. I take pride in being able to provide emergency care for others and their family as if they were my own.”
Stephanie Walmsley,  CCEMTP/QA Officer

“Being first point of contact makes us educators of the community.”
Westin Knigge, EMT Crew Chief

How Bell Ambulance Celebrates EMS Week

This year we will be celebrating while doing our best to maintain social distancing. Our community has been very supportive of front-line healthcare workers and we, in turn, want to support local businesses in our community during this difficult time. So we are working with local restaurants to coordinate curbside meals for our crews during EMS Week.

EMS Week Featured Service | Acadian Ambulance

Acadian Ambulance
Lafayette, Louisiana
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Meet Acadian Ambulance

Acadian Ambulance Service began operations in September 1971 in Lafayette, Louisiana. Over the past 49 years, our company has expanded to include health, safety, security and transportation services. Acadian Companies, which comprises Acadian Ambulance, Acadian Air Med, Executive Aircraft Charter Service, Acadian Total Security, National EMS Academy and Safety Management Systems, has grown to employ nearly 5,000 employees across the United States.

Acadian Ambulance currently operates in more than 70 parishes and counties spanning Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas, providing service to more than 21 million residents and covering almost 60,000 square miles. Our medical fleet includes more than 600 ground ambulances, vans, ambulance buses, helicopters and fixed-wing airplanes. We provide emergency and non-emergency, helicopter and fixed-wing medical transport, mobile healthcare, community event support and contracted event standbys at venues including the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Minute Maid Park in Houston and FedEx Forum in Memphis.

The Acadian Ambulance COVID-19 Response

When COVID-19 cases began rising in Louisiana, Acadian Ambulance was immediately on the front lines, transporting suspected patients and working to protect employees from exposure. We have worked hand-in-hand with other EMS agencies and first responders throughout our service area, particularly in hard-hit New Orleans.

Under contracts with the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and Louisiana Ambulance Alliance, we staffed surge units from our other Louisiana regions that were sent to New Orleans. Most have since been deactivated.

We have also sent strike teams with medics from our Texas operations to assist in New Orleans.

We have assisted with operations at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans since it opened in early April as a temporary hospital for less severe COVID-19 patients.

In addition to these specialized efforts, our medics continue to run calls 24/7, whether related to COVID-19 or not. They continue to follow protocols on proper PPE and patient interaction in order to limit exposure.

Our safety director and operations management worked hard to procure half-face respirators for our front line medics so that they could feel a stronger sense of security against exposure.

Our medical directors, Dr. Chuck Burnell and Dr. Emily Kidd, along with our safety director, Neil Davis, have recorded near-daily update videos that are shared with our employees. The topics range from PPE protocol, operations updates, safety directives and latest statistics to messages of encouragement and support.

Our Chairman & CEO, Richard Zuschlag, has also recorded video messages for employees and the public to share his gratitude and support.

We have been utilizing our social media channels to share important messages for the community in staying protected, along with spotlighting our front line medics and thanking the numerous businesses and individuals who have graciously donated PPE and food to our company and displayed their support in other ways.

The Acadian Ambulance Leadership Perspective

“Our entire team has been doing outstanding work since this pandemic started. Our medics are facing daunting challenges on the front line, our support teams have stepped up so that our medics can fulfill their mission and our Safety Management Systems teams have shifted their skill sets to provide essential screening and disinfection verification services to a variety of industries. Everyone at Acadian is playing a part in what will be another cornerstone in our history. This time has truly shown how we embody One Team, One Mission.”

Richard Zuschlag, Acadian Ambulance Chairman & CEO

Frontline Voices from Acadian Ambulance

“EMS is a lifesaving link between people who need medical care, but are unable to get to a hospital, and the physicians and hospitals themselves. EMS allows highly trained paramedics and EMTs to bring ER- and ICU-level care to people wherever they may be, and continue that high-quality care en route to the hospital, which greatly increases chances for survival and improves patient outcomes.”
Adam Olivier,  Acadian Ambulance Operations Coordinator

“My definition of success is to constantly advance and to never stop learning about what I’m invested in. That mindset carries over to EMS and its importance in community awareness. When emergency providers are able to educate and care for members of their community, those small moments can help individuals improve their personal health. Continue to progress as an EMS provider, improving the lives of those around you, and that definition of success will grow in your community, one patient at a time.”

Liz Hill, Acadian Ambulance EMT

“Our medics are constantly involved in the hardest moments of life. In those moments, they have the opportunity to bring relief and comfort to painful situations, and every day, that’s exactly what they do. ”

Lauren Anzalone Ramos, Acadian Ambulance High School Outreach Coordinator

How Acadian Ambulance Celebrates EMS Week

We will be spotlighting our medics on social media and honoring EMS professionals across the nation.

The Louisiana Bureau of EMS has launched a White Ribbon Campaign to coincide with EMS Week. We will help promote the campaign and encourage all Acadian employees to participate. The campaign calls for people to place a white ribbon on their mailbox, front door, vehicle window or anywhere visible to show support of EMS professionals.

The Bureau of EMS has also developed yard signs featuring a “Healthcare Hero Lives Here” that we will be distributing among our medic staff.

Spotlight: Gold Cross Ambulance Celebrates 50 Years in Business

Gold Cross Ambulance Celebrates 50th Anniversary!

 

When Gene Moffitt founded Gold Cross Ambulance in March 1968, he didn’t know that 50 years later the company would be where it is today, the longest-running and largest private ambulance service in Utah.

At its core, Gold Cross is a family-run business. In fact, Gold Cross started out of the Moffitts’ home after he rented two Cadillac ambulances. In the beginning, Moffitt and two or three other employees responded to calls from the family home, where his wife, Julia, oversaw dispatch operations while caring for their young children. Julia has been central to the business since the beginning and has played an essential role in Gold Cross’s continued success.

Today Gold Cross employs over 500 people, operates around 140 ambulances, and responds to hundreds of 911 calls a day. Despite this growth, Gold Cross remains a family business with deep roots in the community—something that the Moffitts are very proud of.

Gene Moffitt
Early Days of Gold Cross Ambulance

Moffitt points to a couple of factors that have made Gold Cross’s journey a successful one. First, he’s always had a knack for being in the right places at the right time. But he believes that being honorable to the commitment he has made to provide high-quality healthcare to the people of Utah has been critical to his company’s ongoing success. “Success has not come to Gold Cross without much sacrifice over the years,” Moffitt says. “Growing and expanding has not been an easy process, but with dedication and a bit of luck, Gold Cross has been able to overcome the many trials and tribulations we’ve faced.”

Of course when you’ve been in business for 50 years, you’ll have seen many changes to your industry. Moffitt says one of the biggest changes he’s witnessed has been the buyouts of many ambulance services over the years, and that’s something he believes has been both good and bad for the industry. “When large companies buy out smaller ones,” he explains, “the connection of the ambulance service to the community that there was in the past is lost.” Moffitt notes that Gold Cross has never tried to go into another area unless it has been asked to. “Going into a new area to provide service is a delicate process,” he says. ”You must re-prove yourself to the community while being sensitive to the locals and to employees who may come over from the previous provider.” As a family-run business, nurturing the bond between Gold Cross and the communities it serves has always been very important to the Moffitt family.

Looking back on a more personal level, Moffitt has many memories he is proud of. The other day he came across a photo of one of the first babies that Gold Cross transported by ambulance in 1968 or 1969. Gold Cross worked closely with Dr. Larry Jung, a pioneering neonatologist, to help him provide life-saving care to children in Utah. “I’m in awe of how the medical community has really evolved over the last 50 years to give sick newborns and infants a better chance to live,” Moffitt says, smiling. “The baby in that photo would now be 50 years old!”

Gold Cross was also involved in the first heart transplant that took place in Utah. Gold Cross helped the hospital move the patient back and forth with the tremendous amount of equipment necessary for the procedure. The company also played a large role in the Salt Lake City Olympics back in 2002.

Moffitt also made many lifelong friendships because of his involvement with the AAA, including through  his work as a past President of the association. He notes that the early AAA days were very important to his work at Gold Cross, giving his ambulance service access to resources and information that Gold Cross would not have had on its own. “The AAA helps foster a friendly relationship amongst providers,” he adds, “and members are very willing to share information about best practices and other experiences.”

Moffitt is working on bringing the company’s past and present together very visually, while giving a confident nod to the future. Gold Cross is refurbishing its remaining 1960 Cadillac ambulances and has also purchased a new ambulance to celebrate the 50th anniversary. When the brand-new ambulance is shown off alongside the 1960s ambulance, it will give a clear picture of where Gold Cross has come from and where the company is going.

Gold Cross Restored Cadillac Ambulance
New Gold Cross 50th Anniversary Ambulance

And of course there will be numerous celebrations with staff and family, both of whom have been critical to Gold Cross’s success over the years.

One thing that has stayed exactly the same? Moffitt’s vision for Gold Cross—“to provide quality medical care and customer service to anyone, regardless of race, creed, color, religion, or the ability to pay.”

Please join the AAA in congratulating Gene, Julia, the Moffitt family, and Gold Cross Ambulance on 50 years of providing high-quality healthcare to the people of Utah.

Congratulations, and here’s to many more successful years!

Spotlight: Paul Pedersen

Paul Pedersen
Managing Partner
Arizona Ambulance Transport
Alternate Director, AAA, Region V
Sierra Vista, AZ

Tell us a little about yourself.
Born and raised in California. Spent majority of my adult life in Arizona. Love to travel and attend University of Arizona basketball games.

How did you come to work in the industry? How long have you been involved?
In the industry for almost 20 years. Started as a GM with Rural/Metro and later co founded our current business, Arizona Ambulance Transport.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
The dedicated people I get to work with and the service we provide to the communities.

What is your biggest professional challenge?
Paying our staff what they’re really worth. With current reimbursements it’s impossible.

What is your typical day like?
Watching over finances and supporting our operations manager.

How has participation in AAA membership and advocacy helped your organization?
We all need all the help we can get to assure reasonable reimbursements. AAA’s involvement in DC on behalf of all or us is something we certainly couldn’t do by ourselves.

Explore AAA membership, or learn more about our advocacy for ambulance services across the country.

Spotlight: Paul Main

Paul Main
President & General Manager
American Ambulance Visalia
Member, Government Affairs Committee
Winner, 2017 AAA President’s Award
Visalia, CA

Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born and raised in Visalia, Ca. I have been married to Paige for 30 years, and we have three children (Michael, Samantha, Ian). Michael is “special needs” as he was born with a club foot and a rare seizure disorder causing up to 100 seizures per day. I enjoy cooking and being with friends/family.

How did you come to work in the industry? How long have you been involved?
My dad was a firefighter/engineer for the Visalia Fire Department. As kids, my brothers and I couldn’t wait to visit my dad at the stations and climb all over the equipment. Just after high school, my older brother, Tim was working for Exeter District Ambulance. I was working as a pharmacy tech in the local hospital, and Tim would have to restock IV’s and meds from the pharmacy (this was years ago). I was intrigued by his descriptions of calls he responded to. I found myself in an EMT class the next semester, and the rest is history. Tim is now a battalion chief for CalFire (previously a medic for over 25 years), and my younger brother, Jerry, is an RN-MICN for Adventist Medical Center Hanford. He too was a paramedic for over 25 years with AMR and later American Ambulance Kings County.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy helping to improve the EMS system within Tulare County. This is where I started, and I’ve had an opportunity to grow and learn how to create an EMS system in one of the poorest areas in California, if not the US. I get to meet people from all aspects of EMS, health care, FIRE, Law Enforcement, and other ancillary agencies. Working with these folks has created friendships and helped teach me about how we all work toward a common goal of helping the communities we serve.

What is your biggest professional challenge?
The biggest professional challenge is balancing work with life. EMS can consume you, your focus, and energy. It has taken years to learn how not to get caught in the EMS vortex without taking time to refresh with family/friends.

What is your typical day like?
My typical day starts the night before. I usually organize my days (weeks) by creating quick to-do lists with general reminders of what needs to be accomplished. I have learned to start earlier than others, so I’m prepared mentally and day-to-day work/projects are knocked out before meetings or unplanned events derail my plans. I like to wind down in the late afternoon by doing a workout (RIPPED/Body Combat/Extreme Interval/Body Pump). After that, I’m ready for the late evening meetings or to just go home and relax for a few hours.

How has participation in AAA membership and advocacy helped your organization?
My participation in the AAA Government Affairs Committee has allowed me to become better versed in governmental processes for EMS on a much larger platform than I have ever been in the past. Being a part of this committee has helped open my eyes to the importance for all of us to stay atop issues affecting reimbursement, regulatory policies, and establishing a voice with congressional and senatorial representatives. It has reaffirmed there are many from all sides of the political spectrum that recognize EMS as an essential service for their constituents.

Explore AAA membership, or learn more about our advocacy for ambulance services across the country.

AAA Spotlight: New Britain EMS

New Britain EMS: Energized to Succeed

 

New Britain, Connecticut lies just nine miles southwest of Hartford. Its 73,000 residents and visitors to this region of soft rolling hills and young forests are served by New Britain EMS, one of the first grant-funded emergency medical services organizations in the country. Founded in 1977, the service annually responds to 13,500 9-1-1 requests and transports 11,550 patients.

Emphasis on company culture is a driving force at NBEMS. The core values of Community, Team, Service, Caring, and Excellence are reinforced at every opportunity. Teams work closely and embrace a commitment to personal and group excellence. The office space for medics, a comfortable, open area, fosters collaboration and sharing. Senior staff’s offices are nearby and on-duty leaders are always accessible to the teams.

“Our organizational culture is one where learning is energized at all levels,” explained NBEMS CEO Chief Bruce Baxter, “and employees are taught to focus on the continuous improvement of their skills.”

From the early days of their employment, team members experiment, acquire valuable experience, and grow—both as people and as practitioners. Honest mistakes are not to be feared, provided they are made with a commitment to ongoing personal and professional development. From adopting best practices for medics to the future of mobile integrated health, NBEMS is an ambulance service committed to improving itself, and by extension, the quality of care provided to its patients and the community.

Recognized for its Clinical Quality Improvement Program

NBEMS, for the third year in a row, received the recognition in the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline® Program; most recently with the Silver Medal Award. This national recognition is given to services for implementing excellent quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks (STEMI).

QI highlights one of many ways an ambulance service can have a significant impact on community health beyond providing ambulance transports. Lieutenant Pat Ciardullo, head of the NBEMS QI Program, feels strongly that proactively addressing future challenges is the key to continuous advancement.

“While it is important to read run reports and reflect on what transpired in past calls,” Lt. Ciardullo explained, “the benefit of a strenuous QI program is to address issues before they become a problem.”

Quality is evident in the stations and ambulances equipped with the best information systems and medical technology on the market. Lucas CPR devices, EZ-IO drills, and video laryngoscopes are a few examples of investments that have led to optimal patient outcomes and widened the scope of practice for medics in the field.

Care and training for the caregivers

Leadership looks beyond supporting professional expertise to recognizing the needs of team members as holistic people. In the face of a growing national awareness of EMS suicide and depression, Lt. Ciardullo is spearheading the effort to incorporate mental health into QI metrics. Currently studying to become a chaplain, Lt. Ciardullo and the leadership team are researching innovative, evidence-based methods to tackle the issue of post-traumatic stress at work.

Many Paramedics are introduced to NBEMS long before their first shift on a blue and white ambulance. Expert NBEMS faculty teaches at the New Britain EMS Training Academy, which educates paramedics bound for service in New Britain and other nearby communities. The Academy helps services to weather the EMS recruitment and retention crisis, providing educational services and support to the greater New Britain community, healthcare providers, and general business and industry.

When hiring new employees, NBEMS emphasizes finding the right candidate, one able to fit into this distinct organizational culture. New-hires complete a three-phase, 12-week training program with Field Training Officers [FTOs] before assignment to a specific crew and then release to work on their own. Both Chief Baxter and Lt. Ciardullo highlight how important it is to impart early on NBEMS culture and procedures to a new employee and FTOs are vital to this education. This combination of great training, a solid hiring process, and a strong organizational culture has raised the average tenure of a fulltime NBEMS employee to 7.5 years and more than ten years for senior leadership.

Proud member of the American Ambulance Association for 20 years

“The AAA is our silent partner,” said Chief Baxter, “and an important contributor to our success. The AAA Employee Assistance Program (EAP), group purchasing programs, and access to expert consultants have saved us thousands every year.”

NBEMS actively participates in AAA’s advocacy efforts on behalf of the ambulance industry as a whole, including key reimbursement legislation to ensure sustainable funding for the smaller EMS services—like New Britain—that are so critical to their communities. Chief Baxter explains that the AAA’s efforts to re-categorize ambulance services from suppliers of a service to providers of healthcare under Medicare would allow services like New Britain to be reimbursed more fairly.

Chief Baxter also appreciates AAA educational opportunities, which allow the NBEMS team to gain knowledge and skills from, as well as to share ideas with, fellow forward-thinking ambulance services from across the country.

Service Spotlight: Hunter’s Ambulance

Hunter’s Ambulance
450 W. Main St.
Meriden, CT 06451

Founded in 1963 by Vern and Barbara Hunter, Hunter’s Ambulance is a leader in innovation and patient care. Hunter’s Ambulance, located in Meriden, Connecticut, provides emergency dispatch services for approximately 160 square miles and conducts about 200,000 emergency and non-emergency transports a year.

Prior to 1963, Vern Hunter owned and operated a gas station with a tow truck. When he was called to car accident scenes to tow vehicles, he often found himself helping with patients. It was through this work that Vern became interested in the emergency medical services industry, and he began Hunter’s Ambulance with his wife and their eight children. Today, Hunter’s Ambulance is still run by Vern and Barbara’s daughter, Donna Hunter.

From the beginning, Hunter’s Ambulance has adopted a philosophy that you should always “serve yourself with backup,” and therefore began actively expanding its coverage throughout the community. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Hunter’s made several acquisitions, beginning with the purchase of a service on the other side of town. Today, Hunter’s operates five transportation divisions. Its main headquarters is in Meriden and houses the administration offices, the vehicle maintenance station for all vehicles, and the training facilities for both employee training courses as well as community education. Hunter’s also has satellite locations in East Meriden, Middletown, Wallingford and Old Saybrook.

Unlike many other ambulance services, Hunter’s Ambulance is a full service provider, offering both emergency and non-emergency transport. In addition to emergency 911 dispatch, Hunter’s manages a chair car and livery service and a limousine service. It has also operated a school bus for children with special needs since 1995, and is proud to teach emergency preparedness to nursing homes; a skill they have acquired through performing four successful nursing home evacuations.

Hunter’s Ambulance has also recently stepped into the Mobile Integrated Health world, partnering with Protein Sciences to bring protein-based flu vaccinations to the community. Hunter’s took one of its transportation vehicles and developed the Flublok bus, a vehicle designed to travel the community as a mobile clinic, providing flu shots to those who may be unable to travel for one. Last year was the Flublok’s first year, and it administered 2,200 shots. The program won an Innovation Award with the Connecticut Chamber of Commerce.

Though Flublok has been a current success for Hunter’s Ambulance, innovative ideas designed to better serve the community are not a new concept for the service. In the 1990s, Hunter’s developed WebSafeKids, a program designed to help kids begin using computers to learn about safety. The program was implemented in local schools, and was awarded an American Ambulance Association AMBY Award in 1997.

Over the last 50 years, Hunter’s Ambulance has grown and developed into the industry-leader it is today through progressive management and a family-oriented atmosphere. In 2010, with the intention of maintaining its family-grown roots, Hunter’s made the decision to transition to an Employee Stock Ownership Company, becoming only the second service in the country to do so. As a result of empowering its employees with a greater financial interest, Hunter’s sees excellent retention rates and has recently celebrated 85 employees with 10-35 years of service.

Hunter’s Ambulance has been an AAA member since the beginning, and Donna and her siblings grew up attending AAA conferences with their parents. Both Donna and David Lowell, Hunter’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, cite AAA’s remarkable federal advocacy on behalf of ambulance services nationwide as a prime reason for Hunter’s continued membership. The ability to reach out to key industry legal experts through AAA membership has also tremendously helped Hunter’s over the years. Hunter’s Ambulance is a proud supporter of the AAA Stars of Life event, and has sent at least one Star every year.

Staff Visit to Richmond Ambulance Authority

Last week, American Ambulance Association staff took a road trip south to tour the Richmond Ambulance Authority. Known across the country and around the world for their innovative approach to EMS, RAA certainly did not disappoint.

Thank you to Chip Decker, Rob Lawrence, Dan Fellows, Elizabeth Papelino, Danny Garrison, Dempsey Whit, Jason Roach, and the whole RAA team for the hospitality and generosity with their time!

The Acadian Effect

By Desiree LaFont, Education & Events Director, American Ambulance Association

October 2015

In a previous life I worked for a hospitality-related association. Within that industry there was something known as the “Gaylord Effect”—when Gaylord Hotels would open a property in a city, all of the other businesses in the area, including other hotel brands, benefitted. High standards, a sterling reputation, and the ultimate in customer service meant Gaylord booked convention and leisure business on a scale few could rival. Everyone from the local cab drivers to the bartenders to the surrounding hotels profited from the huge influx of travelers. Where once feared as the luxury brand that would crush the competition, they were soon seen as a desirable ally. So fast forward a few years, and I have a new life working for the American Ambulance Association (AAA), but I often think about the Gaylord brand and their ability to change a city with their commitment to their customers. If you are wondering what any of this has to do with ambulance services, I’m about to get to that.

On a recent trip to Louisiana to document the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the role AAA members had in the recovery, the AAA’s Director of Membership, Amanda Riordan, and I had the opportunity to visit Acadian Ambulance. Armed with a local videographer, a short list of questions, and a crippling doubt in our ability to capture what is arguably the most important private EMS story in recent history, we arrived at Acadian’s Air Med Station in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Lafayette Headquarters

Our first interview was with Marc Creswell, Acadian’s Air Med Operations Manager. Marc’s story is incredible for a number of reasons, and I won’t attempt to retell all of it here, but I will tell you Marc is the kind of guy that could have inspired the phrase, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” This is the guy you want in your foxhole. And to be honest, we could have completed our interview with Marc, packed up, and had more than enough material to tell a great story about Acadian and Katrina, but Acadian was just getting started.

We spent the remainder of the day interviewing Dee Dee Sewell, their Critical Support Intervention Specialist; Clay Henry, Acadian’s Vice President of Operations, Communications Center; Blane Comeaux, President of Acadian Total Security; and Chairman and CEO Richard Zuschlag. Everyone, including Mr. Zuschlag, gave us more time then we could have hoped for and held nothing back. They shared a great many operational details, but always through the lens of the story of the people behind all those unseen efforts and rescues.

Downtown New Orleans

Dee Dee at work in Lafayette
Dee Dee at work in Lafayette

The next day we visited downtown New Orleans to meet with Steven Kuiper, Regional Vice President for Acadian. Within minutes, I felt like I was hearing the story of Katrina for the first time. Steven shared facts, but, once again, it was wrapped in the story of the people around him—the suffering and the heroism he personally observed on the ground.

And, then came the big finish; Janie Fuller, Paramedic Field Supervisor and lifelong resident of St. Bernard Parish. Janie accompanied us to the Mayor’s Office to interview Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin and New Orleans Director of EMS Dr. Jeffrey Elder. She then gave us the insiders’ tour of her parish and showed us exactly where the levees were breached. Her entire hometown was under eighteen feet of water in 15 minutes, but by nightfall Janie had commandeered an airboat and was taking a cardiac patient to I-10 and Causeway for evacuation. Needless to say, Janie is a force of nature herself, and no matter what dark alley a call takes her down, this lady is coming out alive and so is her patient.

Telling the Story

[quote_right]What also emerged during our visit was Acadian’s ability to tell the human side of what it means to be in EMS. They tell the Katrina story and the story of their company with humility, grace, and a deep appreciation for their colleagues and the many other services that stepped in to lend a hand.[/quote_right]What emerged over the course of those two days of interviews was the amazing story of what Acadian, and private EMS, were able to accomplish in the midst of the hurricane’s devastation. Hospitals were shuttered, law enforcement was overrun, citizens were cut off, and conditions for everyone—including EMS—were unspeakable. Despite this, medics in the area stayed and other ambulance services rolled in.

Hundreds of ambulances with trained medics rolled in to help New Orleans and countless communities throughout Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Whether or not they knew how bad the situation was, they still went in. No one can ever calculate what that response meant to the City of New Orleans and the other affected areas, but I think we all have a sense of how much worse it would have been without the timely response of private EMS. What also emerged during our visit was Acadian’s ability to tell the human side of what it means to be in EMS. They tell the Katrina story and the story of their company with humility, grace, and a deep appreciation for their colleagues and the many other services that stepped in to lend a hand.
So after an incredible 48 hours in Louisiana we had to head home, and I left with a heavy heart. I wanted to stay a little longer. No, I wanted to stay a lot longer. But why? As I sat on the plane home, it hit me. It was the Acadian Effect. Acadian is that big, shining example of what an innovative, self-determined private EMS company can mean to the population they serve. How you can put people first and come out a winner. How when you put people first everyone benefits. Telling the incredible Acadian success story benefits all of EMS because it typifies the EMS culture of going beyond what’s required and how maintaining human dignity is an essential part of patient care.

So let’s tell that story! Let’s tell the story of Acadian and Katrina. Let’s tell the story of Sandy, Joplin, the Boston Bombing, and the thousands of times a day private EMS responds to 9-1-1 with compassion and highly skilled medical knowledge because that’s your chosen profession. Let’s tell the story until the press, the public and the legislators are telling it for us.

Our heartfelt thanks to Acadian and every AAA member we have the privilege of serving.

Want More?

Watch AAA’s Katrina & Rita retrospective video that features many of the subjects of this blog post.

Acadian Ambulance High School Champions Livonia

Acadian’s High School Champions Program Leads the Way

Founded in 1971 in with just eight staff and two vehicles, Acadian Ambulance has grown over the years to more than 4000 employees with a fleet of 400 ground ambulances, helicopters, fixed-wing airplanes, and van and bus transports. Their territory has expanded from Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, to stations spanning large swaths of Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi.

How does such a large and varied service feed their talent pipeline? In addition to many other strategies, Acadian is leading the industry in its efforts to engage young adults in EMS through its High School Champions program, a division of their National EMS Academy.

Porter Taylor, Acadian's Director of Operations
Porter Taylor, Acadian’s Director of Operations

To learn more about the ins-and-outs of the program, AAA caught up with Porter Taylor, Acadian’s Director of Operations. Taylor has been in EMS for 29 years, since he joined Acadian Ambulance as a college sophomore. “I love making a difference in people’s lives. When I was working on a unit it was the patient, and now, almost 30 years later, it is the employees that I love helping.”

Establishing High School Champions was not a linear path. Initially, Acadian would send medics to career fairs and school functions to introduce the field and promote its National EMS Academy (NEMSA) as an opportunity after graduation. “There are a lot of technical grants out there, and a critical staffing need for EMS in general. We wanted to create an avenue for educating students about the benefits of becoming EMTs to support our staffing needs long term,” said Taylor.

Although these medic visits were effective, Acadian wanted to expand the fledgling program’s scope and reach. He began visiting area high schools and meeting with school boards and directors more than a year ago to build relationships and explore opportunities. The partnerships he built added another facet to the High School Champion initiative wherein Acadian continues to promote NEMSA, coupled with an effort to get the schools to incorporate an EMT program as an elective prior to graduation. “[I wanted] to introduce them to our company and our support of this technical career path. My goal was to let the teachers and technical program directors know that Acadian has jobs for their students upon the successful completion of the program. Once students turn 18, Acadian will be able to offer them a rewarding  position with good pay and benefits and with continuing education opportunities.”

Acadian Operations Manager Justin Cox was instrumental in the implementation at Livonia High School, a recent addition to the program. In concert with his professional know-how, Cox had a personal connection to the school—his thirteen year old daughter attends Livonia.

Collaborating with the administration, Acadian now works with schools like Livonia to introduce EMS career paths at the end of high school, a time when students are making key choices about their futures. Students can start the EMT training program as an elective prior to graduation and take the national certification exam upon turning 18. Students spend 2-3 hours 3 days a week, during their junior and senior years preparing. “It is a joy to work on this program,” said Taylor, “It is a privilege to help young people make a career choice that is full of rewards.”

Does your service have a great program that is making a difference in your area? Let us know in the comments section below, or email ariordan@ambulance.org.