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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.

EMS1 | Inside EMS Podcast: Elephants In the Room

From EMS1 featuring AAA Communications Chair Rob Lawrence

What to do about the EMS elephants in the roomOur hosts discuss industry hot topics that will need to be addressed in the future, including the debate about responding with lights and sirensNov 6, 2020
This episode of Inside EMS is sponsored by ImageTrend, the creators of the free mobile app for first responders, CrewCare. It’s time to thrive.

In this episode, host Chris Cebollero speaks with guest host Rob Lawrence about his recent keynote address at the American Ambulance Association’s Annual Conference. Lawrence shares his thoughts on his EMS “elephants in the room.” Where should EMS stand on the issue of responding with lights and sirens? Do EMS practitioners need college degrees? Listen to the discussion and join the debate in the comments below.

CMS Launches Outreach Effort to Ambulance Providers & Suppliers

As part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA 2018), the Congress instructed CMS to develop a cost collection system to collect cost and revenue data related to the provision of ambulance services. Ambulance services are defined by federal law to include all levels of emergency and non-emergency services. 

CMS is in the first phase of this process. The Congress instructed the Agency to engage with stakeholders before specifying through notice and comment rulemaking the data collection system. By law, CMS is required to specify the final system by December 31, 2019. CMS must also identify the first group of providers and suppliers selected for the first representative sample by that date as well. It appears that the goal is to have the contractor develop a proposal before the 2019 rulemaking cycle which will begin next summer.

To engage with the stakeholders, CMS, through its contractor the RAND Corporation, is reaching out providers and suppliers to learn more about the costs and revenues associated with providing ambulance services.

During the American Ambulance Association’s annual meeting earlier this month, CMS through the RAND Corporation, convened a focus group where they selected several AAA members who were able to talk directly with the contractor. The discussion centered around characteristics of ambulance services that matter for determining costs. The group also talked about how data is currently captured at the state and local levels, as well as how data is tracked within ambulance services. There was also a lot of discussion about the importance of standardizing data elements and not relying upon different state or local definitions, which could confound the data and make it impossible to compare costs across states.

As we have reported previously, it is critically important that the data collected through this process is standardized and reflects the actual cost of providing ambulance services. It is important to make sure that the data is useable not only for supporting the ambulance add-ons after they next expire in 2023, but also to help implement broader reforms and innovative payment models.

CMS is now reaching out to others in the industry. If you receive an email or a phone call from RAND Corporation, please respond. 

If you have questions about, or would like assistance with regard to, this project, please contact Tristan North at

Closed: 2018 Annual Conference Call for Presentations

AAA 2018 Annual Conference & Trade Show
September 6-8, 2018 at MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV

We are asking those individuals interested in presenting at the American Ambulance Association’s Annual Conference & Trade Show to respond to our Call for Presentations. DEADLINE EXTENDED – Submissions are due March 1.

This premier event is one of the largest inclusive gatherings of ambulance and pre-hospital care leaders, and features distinct tracks for Operations, Reimbursement and Policy, and Executive Leadership. Our primary focus continues to be providing critical information that both new and established ambulance services may utilize to better serve their communities and operate their services more efficiently and profitably. To submit a proposal, please fill out our Call for Presentations form.

The following are general topics areas to be addressed, but other subject areas are welcome:

  • Recruitment, Retention, and Human Resources
  • Operations, Risk Management and Safety
  • Management and Supervision
  • Leadership Development & Structure
  • Improved Fleet Maintenance/Management
  • Clinical/Quality Assurance Programs
  • Reimbursement/Patient Accounts
  • Innovations, Technology, and Communications
  • Emerging Healthcare Trends/Hot Topics
  • Healthcare Reform/Public Health

Format of Sessions

Sessions will range from larger audience general sessions, to smaller breakout sessions within various topic tracks. We are accepting single speaker as well as panel discussions. Sessions may be either classroom style or set for small work groups. Audience involvement is encouraged.

Proposal Instructions

Please be advised that participation as a presenter is strictly on a voluntary basis. AAA is unable to pay speaker fees or travel and lodging expenses. Participation will be at your own expense for your own exposure.

To submit a presentation for consideration, please fill out our Call for Presentations online form.

Information to be included with your proposal submission:
Name, title, organization affiliation, address, city, state, zip code, business phone number with area code and e-mail address
Title of proposed session
Experience level of speaker/s for large national conference or audiences. Please include the event names & dates.
A detailed narrative description of the proposed session or workshop, including the following, as appropriate:
Experience level (basic, intermediate or advanced) of intended audience
50-75 word description of your presentation for marketing purposes
Description of what your audience will be able to take away from your presentation and of what they will be able to use immediately in their business or personal life
Recommendations, findings, or practice models for replication

The deadline for submissions is March 1, 2018. Applicants may have more than one submission for any type of session. Audience involvement is highly encouraged.

Submit a Proposal

2016 AAA Award Winners Announced

The AAA is proud to announce this year’s award winners. Awards will be presented at the AAA Annual Conference and Tradeshow Awards Reception on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. Please join us in congratulating the winners.

J. Walter Schaefer Award

Randy Strozyk, American Medical Response

The J. Walter Schaefer Award is given annually to an individual whose work in EMS has contributed positively to the advancement of the industry as a whole. Randy has achieved this through his tireless dedication and service to the industry and his role in elevating the association and its members to national prominence.

Robert L. Forbuss Lifetime Achievement Award

Julie Rose, Community Care Ambulance

The Robert L. Forbuss Lifetime Achievement Award is named in honor of the first Executive Director of the American Ambulance Association. It recognizes a volunteer leader who has made a significant long-term impact on the association. Julie has held numerous leadership positions in the AAA including Membership Committee Chair, Region III Director and Alternate Director. Julie has worked tirelessly to get members of her Region to join the AAA, knowing that it is important to participate in the national organization to be part of the team finding solutions to today’s challenges in EMS.

President’s Award

Jon Howell, Huntsville Emergency Medical Services, Inc. (HEMSI)
Asbel Montes, Acadian Ambulance Service
David Tetrault, St. Francois County Ambulance District

These awards are given by the President to volunteer leaders who have shown commitment to the advancement of the AAA above and beyond the call of duty. This year the three outstanding volunteers represent tireless work on behalf of the AAA.

Jon Howell has served as the chair of the AAA’s nominating committee for 4 years and in that time has worked to grown the involvement of our members to participate in the AAA nominating and election process.  Asbel Montes has worked tirelessly as Co-Chair of the Payment Reform Committee, and David Tetrault has served as a Region IV Board or Director as well as an active participant on the Membership and Education Committee.  AAA President Hall was quoted as saying, “this award is given by the sole discretion of the President of the AAA and I cannot think of three more deserving individuals than Jon, Asbel and David.  No matter what I have asked them to do for the AAA, they have taken on the task with determination, commitment and a level of servant leadership rarely seen anymore.”

Distinguished Service Award

Brian Choate, Solutions Group
Kathy Lester, MPH, JD, Lester Health Law & AAA Healthcare Consultant
Scott Moore, Esq., EMS Resource Advisors LLC & AAA Human Resources Consultant
Brian Werfel, Esq., Werfel & Werfel, PLLC & AAA Medicare Consultant

The American Ambulance Association (AAA) is proud to award Brian Choate, Kathy Lester, Scott Moore, and Brian Werfel with 2016 Distinguished Service Awards.

The Regional Workshop team worked countless hours to create the content for the four compliance, billing and reimbursement policy workshops that were presented throughout the country. The workshops were designed to help all types of services structure their billing departments more maximum efficiency and integrity.

It is for this dedication of the team members to the AAA that we are proud to recognize Brian Choate, Kathy Lester, Scott Moore, and Brian Werfel with the 2016 Distinguished Service Award.

Partner of the Year Award

National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT)

The Partner of the Year Award is given to an EMS partner whose collaboration with the AAA enhances educational programs, legislative priorities and/or member benefits. This pas year the NAEMT has partnered with the AAA on numerous projects including Medicare Relief, EMS Compass and most recently issues a joint statement regarding Payment Reform Policies for EMS.

Affiliate of the Year Award


The American Ambulance Association (AAA) is proud to award Avesta with the 2016 Affiliate of the Year Award. The award is given to the vendor whose supports the programs of the association. Avesta is dedicated to solely to the practice of Human Capital Management and the development of solutions that meet the unique human resource challenges of their EMS clients. This year’s Affiliate winner has shown unconditional support of the AAA Stars of Life Program. The Stars of Life event, held annually in Washington, D.C., publically recognized and celebrates the achievements and exceptional work of EMS professionals.

HHS OIG Report Discussion Added to Annual Conference

Late breaking AAA Conference update:

In order to address a Medicare reimbursement issue we feel is critical, AAA has decided to modify the Tuesday afternoon conference session being led by Brian S. Werfel, Esq.

Instead of covering medicare audits in this session, Mr. Werfel will now be leading an in depth discussion about a recent OIG Report on Questionable Billing Practices. The originally schedule session on preparing for medicare audits will be offered as a webinar. Further information about this new conference session is provided below.

Understanding the Recent OIG Report on Questionable Billing Practices

On September 29, 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General released a report on “Inappropriate Payments and Question Billing for Part B Ambulance Transports”.  The report concluded that Medicare paid $24.2 million during the first half of 2012 for ambulance transports that did not meet Medicare program requirements.
In this special session, AAA Medicare Consultant Brian S. Werfel, Esq. will breakdown the OIG’s report, with special attention being paid to each of the 7 billing practices the OIG identified as “questionable”.  The session will include strategies that companies can implement to avoid these practices.  Brian will also discuss ongoing OIG enforcement activities related to the issues identified in this report.  The session will conclude with a Question & Answer period.

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