KEMSA Award Winners 2017

The 2017 KEMSA Award Winners were recognized at the 2017 KEMSA Conference & Expo "Honoring Our Own” Awards Banquet on Saturday, August 12, 2017 in Mulvane, Kansas. We were proud to honor some of our own - individuals and organizations - for making a significant contribution to EMS in Kansas over the past year.  Once nominations are verified that they meet the award criteria by the KEMSA Awards Committee, the nominations are sent to a special awards judging committee that consists of EMS professionals from outside of Kansas with no affiliation with any of the nominees.  This year we had a record number of nominations, and some of the winners in each category only won by 1 point.  We were extremely pleased that we had so many deserving candidates this year.

Learn about the 2017 winners below.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Jan Smith

Jan Smith, retired Director of Norwich Ambulance Service, was the recipient of the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1985 after a tragic accident, a small town waited 30 minutes for emergency services to provide aid. At that point, the decision was made that this was no longer acceptable for the small community. Then an EMT, Jan Smith, joined with a local doctor to begin the Norwich Ambulance Service. He recognized the critical need to have services available in the town. Shortly after the service began, he became the EMS Director, a volunteer position, and continued to serve in that leadership position for 27 years. He went on to get his EMT-I/D certification and transitioned to an AEMT.

His nomination stated, “Jan took the position seriously and dedicated himself to ensuring the service was always providing quality and current best practices. Many hours were spent on call, working on paperwork and providing emergency care for his friends and neighbors. He continually gave of himself to take care of his community.”

Not only did Jan volunteer his time to cover many on call shifts, as the Director he made sure the service had the equipment and training needed. It was important to him for the service to be current on protocols as well as provide as much emergency care as possible. He understood the importance of a rural EMS service being able to provide prehospital services. Jan would also mentor new EMTs and talk with pride about the volunteer staff of the service and their dedication to serving.

Although he faced many trials, challenges, and triumphs, Jan was able to maintain the service in a time that volunteer services were closing doors. And Jan did so with very little recognition. He would quietly work behind the scenes, taking call time, responding to emergency calls and running a service with no intention of public recognition. He was very humble in service, always redirecting successes to everyone else and never drawing attention to himself. Jan has given a lifetime of service to Norwich Ambulance Service as he has selflessly served for over 32 years.

This award is given to any Kansas certified EMS attendant whose contributions to pre-hospital care have been consistent and long lasting, representing in effect, a lifetime of outstanding service to the profession and to the public.

EMT of the Year Award – Christina Thronesbery

Christina (Tina) Thronesbery, EMT with Kiowa County EMS, was the recipient of the 2017 EMT of the Year Award. Tina was nominated for this award because of her commitment not only to Kiowa County EMS (KCEMS), but to Kiowa County as a whole. Tina currently serves as an EMT, CPR Instructor, and a Child Passenger Safety Technician for KCEMS.

Tina had just finished taking her First Responder class the week before the EF-5 tornado destroyed her town on May 4, 2007. After the tornado, Tina began working for the Greensburg Fire Department as a certified First Responder. She obtained her EMT certification in spring 2008 and began working at KCEMS in fall 2008. Tina currently works full-time for KCEMS. In 2016, she put in more than 3,200 hours of call time covering mostly nights and weekends. She was on 55% of the EMS calls giving her the second highest call response in the service last year.

Over the past few years, KCEMS shifted its focus to improve cardiac arrest survival rates in Kiowa County. Tina immediately jumped at the chance to become a CPR instructor and the opportunity to provide CPR training throughout Kiowa County. She dove head-first into this task, providing CPR classes on a regular basis and assisting to provide hands-only CPR to citizens. She also volunteers for extra events including the Kiowa County Health Fair, multiple stand-bys, and Safe Kids Kiowa County activities.

This award is given to a Kansas EMT who has significantly contributed to EMS at the community, state and/or national level.

Paramedic of the Year Award – Angela Hamilton

Angela Hamilton, paramedic with Sedgwick County EMS (SCEMS), was the recipient of the 2017 Paramedic of the Year Award. Angela was nominated for this award because of the high-quality patient care she delivers to her patients on a daily basis as she believes in treating each patient with compassion and professionalism. Angela currently serves as a Team Leader (Captain) with SCEMS.

She began her career in 1999 as a volunteer EMT for the Sedgwick County EMS Reserves. She went to Cowley County Community College and received an Associates of Applied Science degree upon completion of the Paramedic program in 2000 and began her employment at SCEMS in 2001. Angela has served as a lab instructor for Cowley County Community College. She has been the preceptor for many paramedic students throughout her years at SCEMS. As a Team Leader, she continually pushes her students and EMS crew members to become better technicians and better people. She works with them by providing feedback, education, and challenges them to provide the highest quality of care to each and every patient.

In the past three years, Angela has averaged 900 EMS calls per year. She continually strives to further her education and knowledge not just in EMS, but also in being a leader and role model as she consistently looks for opportunities that will challenge her to be a better paramedic.

This award is for a Kansas Paramedic who has significantly contributed to EMS at the community, state and/or national level. It can be any Kansas Paramedic whose primary responsibility is providing direct patient care.

Administrator of the Year Award – Chad Pore

Chad Pore, director for Butler County EMS (BCEMS), was the recipient of the 2017 Administrator of the Year Award. The biggest reason Chad was nominated for this award was for his commitment and pursuit of a safer EMS organization. Chad has been leading Butler County EMS for the past three years and has completed changed the organization. Many changes have occurred increasing the safety within the organization on many levels including the recent ambulance design and purchase. For two-years, Chad worked with Ronald Rolfsen from Oslo, Norway to design a better, safer environment for his EMS crews to provide patient care. This culminated in the purchase of the United States first low-top Mercedes Benz Sprinter Ambulance.

Another safety aspect implemented at BCEMS was the restructuring of bags and the supplies carried within the bags. Three years ago, the primary first-in bag weighed over 40 lbs. Today, the first-in bag weighs less than 10 lbs and provides all the necessary supplies for crew members to appropriately treat over 85% of calls. This simple change removes a significant amount of wear and tear on crew members everyday as they respond to calls throughout Butler County.

At BCEMS, Chad worked directly with the Emergency Communications Director to gather and review data on lights and sirens use in relation to EMD Dispatch Codes and patient triage. He then implemented a trial policy, which has become permanent. This policy change has decreased the use of lights and sirens on 911 calls by nearly 30%. BCEMS now responds to over 60% of 911 calls without lights and sirens creating a safer response for crews and the public. Equally important is knowing this change has not resulted in any adverse patient outcomes.

Medication errors occur on a regular basis in healthcare, and Chad has worked tirelessly to decrease medication errors using three processes. The first step was the reduction of medications carried in the ambulance. The second step was the implementation of the Medication Administration Cross Check. Lastly, Chad implemented “Just Culture” at BCEMS. This change has resulted in an increase of crews reporting medication errors or near-misses more accurately allowing the agency to better identify how many medication errors are occurring and what is causing the errors. All three of these processes have reduced the number of medication errors in the agency.

Uniforms create another opportunity for safety and Chad has updated the primary uniform for his crews to include reflective striping around the arm sleeves and across the back.

Chad has found ways to implement changes for safety in the constraints of an already tight budget, which is something everyone can do. His ability to prioritize projects to ensure the funding he has makes the biggest impact for everyone is what sets him apart from other EMS Administrators.

This award is for an administrator who has made a significant contribution to EMS Administration on a local, state or national level, and it is awarded to an EMS administrator whose primary responsibility is the direction of individuals involved in the delivery of prehospital care.

Donald E. White Educator of the Year Award – John Cota

John Cota, training officer with Kansas City Kansas Fire Department (KCKFD) and instructor coordinator for Kansas City Kansas Community College (KCKCC), was the recipient of the 2017 Donald E. White Educator of the Year Award. John is an EMT and has earned a Master’s degree from K-State in Adult Continuing Education. Now, he is in paramedic school. John stays active in EMS in the state by attending several EMS conferences and attends the majority of Kansas Board of EMS meetings. During the past two years, John volunteered for the daunting task of providing continuing education to the members of Kansas City Kansas Fire Department. John also serves in many areas within the community teaching hands only CPR classes to various organizations within the community such as Catholic Charities and many others.

John’s nomination said “John’s state of the art approach to educating the future of professional technicians includes running various scenarios, trying new and different software programs to enhance the learning process, and helping to establish marketing for both the paramedic and EMT programs within the community. He has also mentored newer instructors and helped to establish and create innovative ways to address educating future technicians. John has shown extraordinary dedication to EMS education.”

This award is offered to recognize any Kansas Instructor Coordinator or Training Officer who is recognized by the Kansas Board of EMS to conduct initial courses of instruction or continuing education instruction and is given to an outstanding instructor of initial or continuing EMS education.

EMS Support Person of the Year Award – Chris Davis

Chris Davis, dispatcher with Butler County Emergency Communications, was the recipient of the 2017 Support Person of the Year Award. Chris was nominated for his cooperative relationship with EMS, but also for his data and the subsequent changes he has made working directly with EMS. Dispatchers play a crucial role in everyday responses, and Chris has been leading the way in Butler County.

Chris’ desire to be the best emergency communications center in Kansas culminated in May of 2016 when Butler County Emergency Communications became the only International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED) Accredited center in Kansas. This means Chris and his team put all the necessary processes in place to ensure they are providing the highest level and quality of dispatching to EMS crews.

As part of his process, Chris added members of Butler County EMS to his dispatch review committees who perform quality assurance on 911 calls. He also added members of Butler County EMS to his dispatch steering committee to look at current processes to identify improvements benefiting both patients and responders.

As for data and subsequent changes, one example is lights and sirens in Butler County EMS (BCEMS). When BCEMS Director Chad Pore began looking at the use of lights and sirens, it was Chris who gathered the data and put together necessary information pertaining to the Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) Code and EMS triage codes. The information Chris found allowed BCEMS to develop a trial decreasing the use of lights and sirens when responding to 911 calls. BCEMS subsequently made the policy permanent and today they respond to over 60% of 911 calls without the use of lights and sirens making it safer for the crews and the public. More important is the fact there have been no adverse patient outcomes from this change, and it was all thanks to the work Chris performed with the data in his dispatching software.

Another reason for Chris’ nomination was his involvement in patients suffering from cardiac arrest and identifying cardiac arrest patient quicker, and his gathering of stroke data to ensure BCEMS crews recognize strokes as quickly as possible.

His nomination said “[Chris] has consistently committed his time and efforts to ensuring [BCEMS] has the opportunity to provide the highest level of patient care to those in Butler County.”

This award is offered to recognize one of the many individuals whose efforts enhance EMS in Kansas through their actions as a First Responder, Nurse, Dispatcher, Law Enforcement Officer, Pilot, Supervisor or other individual who would not fit into the other categories for individual recognition.

Physician of the Year Award - Dr. Ryan Jacobsen

Dr. Ryan Jacobsen, Johnson County EMS System Medical Director, was the recipient of the 2017 Physician of the Year Award. Dr. Ryan Jacobsen started his EMS career by graduating from the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics paramedic program in 1997. From March 1998 until the end of 2003, Dr. Jacobsen was employed as a paramedic with Johnson County Medical Action (Med-Act). While working as a paramedic, Dr. Jacobsen completed his Bachelor of General Studies (Human Biology) at the University of Kansas. He was accepted into the Doctor of Medicine program at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in August 2002.

Dr. Jacobsen’s love has always been in Emergency Medicine. In 2013, the Johnson County EMS system/Emergency Communications Center received funding to hire a full-time Medical Director. After an extensive National search and with some very qualified candidates, Dr. Jacobsen was hired as the County EMS Medical Director. This is a very unique position and one of the few full-time EMS Medical Director positions in the country. Since being in that position, the reviews and feedback from EMS providers has been overwhelmingly positive and unanimously pleased and supportive of Dr. Jacobsen.

His nomination stated, “He is always available to EMS providers who have questions and concerns. He is always teaching and educating providers either on call scenes, at the stations or in classrooms. He is very active in call scene responses. His focus is always what is best for patients and how they can be served better.”

Dr. Jacobsen also cares deeply about every EMS provider in the field and is always available to assist and help them. Numerous times after working a shift at Children’s Mercy Hospital or Truman Medical Center, he will respond to a call scene after midnight to assist and support his crews.

Dr. Jacobsen is the current Chair for the Medical Advisory Committee for the State of Kansas and was elected unanimously from the MAC membership. He is the Vice-Chairman of the National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP) Standards and Clinical Practice Committee. He is a member of the Advisory Board for the Johnson County Community College EMS program. He was recognized by the Missouri Athletic Trainers Association for valuable contributions and support in 2015. He was recognized by Lee’s Summit Fire Department in 2014 for Outstanding Contributions to EMS.

Since becoming Medical Director for Johnson County EMS/Emergency Communications Center, he has been instrumental in changes of long spine board use. He provided testimony to the Kansas Senate Committee on Public Heath and Welfare regarding Long Spine Board changes in Kansas EMS.

His nomination stated, “You won’t find a more dedicated and committed Medical Director around. Dr. Jacobsen is patient focused and provides the leadership to provide the highest level of pre hospital patient care. He is also an advocate of the first responders, EMTs and Paramedics in the state of Kansas. He will always take the time to educate teach and mentor health care providers.”

This award is offered to recognize any Kansas licensed physician who provides commendable service to the benefit of EMS in Kansas. The physician can be an Emergency Department physician, service Medical Director or any other physician who has provided a positive impact to Kansas EMS.

Military Medic of the Year Award – Tony Bach

Sean “Tony” Bach, 68W40 with the United States Army, was the recipient of the 2017 Military Medic of the Year Award. Sergeant First Class (SFC) Bach enlisted in the Army in 1998, and is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) with two deployments. SFC Bach (or Doc Bach) is a 68W combat medic with the 1st Infantry Division at Ft Riley. SFC Bach serves as a Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge (NCOIC) for Irwin Army Community Hospital ED.

His awards and citations in the US Army include: a Bronze Star, two Army Commendations, five Army Achievement Medals, Global War on Terrorism Service and Expeditionary Medals, Expert Field Medical Badge, and others. His permanent unit citations include: a Meritorious Unit Citation, Join Meritorious Unit Award, Valorous Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Commendation, and an Army Superior Unit Award. His duty stations have been Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Wainwright, Alaska; Fort Richardson, Alaska; West Point, New York; and Fort Riley, Kansas.

About his military career, SFC Bach said, “During my 19+ years, I have trained countless soldiers to improve my brothers’ survivability on the battlefield. This is the one thing that I hold the dearest to my heart. It is not how many people that I killed or captured, but that I took 40 soldiers to a combat zone and I brought 40 soldiers home to be with their families.”

SFC Bach was originally a paramedic in Texas. While in the military, he allowed his civilian certifications to lapse, but took a second paramedic class to re-certify. SFC Bach is working to upgrade all Ft. Riley medics that are EMT certified to AEMTs. This was his concept and his project. It will not only help the medics better serve soldiers, but will provide those medics with a valuable certification once they transition into civilian life. SFC Bach also teaches EMT classes at Barton County’s Grandview Plaza campus. In addition, SFC Bach is a PRN paramedic with Riley County EMS (RCEMS), and assisted in the development of the RCEMS Tactical Medic Team.

His nomination stated, “SFC Bach’s breadth of knowledge is unparalleled. As he prepares to retire from the military and transition to civilian EMS, he still remains very engaged with the military and creating a legacy that anybody would be proud of.”

This award is offered to recognize a military medic* who demonstrates excellence in the performance of military emergency medicine, with their primary role being that of theater patient care. A *military medic is any MOS qualified active, reserve or National Guard U.S. Army Medic, Navy Corpsman or Air Force Medic.

This is the first year KEMSA has given out this award as it revamped its award categories to match the National EMS Awards that are given out each fall by NAEMT and EMSWorld.

Career Service of the Year Award – Reno County EMS

Reno County EMS was the recipient of the 2017 Career Service of the Year Award. Reno County EMS is an advanced life support provider serving a population of 65,000 with a staff of 35 paramedics and eight EMTs. Last year, they ran 4,797 emergency calls and 1,353 non-emergency calls. Their paramedic teams are trained for Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life support and Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support.

Reno County EMS has partnered with Hutchinson Regional Medical Center since 1971. This relationship has led to Hutchinson Regional Medical Center becoming a Certified Level 3 Trauma Center and helped Reno County EMS improve their scene response times. Patients benefit from the quality care provided from EMS arrival through hospital admission, and through access to patient center/best practice education from Hutchinson Regional Medical Center.

The community in Reno County also receives countless volunteer hours through the team's presence at local events, board appointments, and involvement on various health advisory committees. Many EMS team members also serve on rural volunteer departments throughout the county.

The award nomination’s letter of support said “Over the past year, Reno County EMS has committed itself to a process of change. This effort comes on the heels of a new director and support from the administration of Hutchinson Regional Hospital. Reno County EMS has begun this work by challenging their personnel to engage in and participate with management to make changes that improve their level of service. From overhauling the response to cardiac arrest through standardization and sequence engineering, the development of new and contemporary protocols, the implementation of new and relevant supervisory positions, development of a training program and field training officers, and a rebranding initiative of ambulances and crew uniforms; the Reno County EMS of two years ago is rapidly changing and improving in its ability to provide progressive and compassionate care to those in need.”

Reno County EMS recently received the American Heart Association Mission Lifeline Gold Plus Award continuing a four year AHA recognition streak. This was achieving 75% or higher performance on each applicable EMS Achievement Measure for consecutive 24-month intervals to improve the quality of care for STEMI patients. Last year, they were the only EMS organization in Kansas to receive the Gold Award, and this year, they obtained the higher Gold Plus Award. In addition, Reno County EMS assisted the Hutchinson Regional Medical Center Emergency Room with recertification as a Level 3 trauma center.

This award recognizes a paid EMS system that exemplifies outstanding professionalism and service to the community it serves. This award honors agencies for their dedication, teamwork, and commitment to EMS.

Volunteer Service of the Year Award – Kingman EMS

Kingman EMS was the recipient of the 2017 Volunteer Service of the Year Award. Kingman EMS was nominated for this award because of its diligence and dedication to excellence in prehospital care to its community.

Kingman EMS is a city based EMS service that provides BLS & ALS prehospital care to the citizens of the city of Kingman as well as Kingman county. The service covers 745 square miles, responding to over 700 calls a year. The primary truck is staffed with a paramedic 24/7, enabling Kingman EMS to always be able to provide advanced life support skills. The main station houses three ambulances with two satellite stations that have an ambulance staffed with first responders.

Since 2012, Director Zach Bieghler has led the service to improve the image of Kingman EMS in the community, so citizens know they can depend on the EMS service to administer appropriate emergency care and respond quickly to meet the needs of the community. Now Kingman EMS is a respected organization in the city as well as in the county.

The service has become actively engaged with the local hospital in a positive working partnership. Kingman EMS has partnered with the hospital to provide improved care and outcomes to patients. The service has engaged the hospital staff in the service’s quality assurance (QA) reviews. The hospital staff serves in an advisory role on the QA committee providing input to ensure all the patient’s needs were addressed. The relationship that has been built allows the EMS service and hospital to collaborate together to provide a seamless coordination of patient care. Together, hospital staff and EMS personnel are working as a team to provide a solid healthcare coalition for the Kingman community.

In the past five years, the service has added new equipment. Through grants, Kingman EMS has received a Stryker Power Pro cot, Zoll X series monitor, combi boards, a stair chair, AEDs for the community, and a Zoll autopulse. The service has upgraded the rest of their equipment over the past five years as well. Kingman EMS is committed to utilizing quality equipment to ensure the technicians will have the equipment necessary to provide the needed care to their patients. This includes utilizing tablets for their electronic patient care reports, so the personnel can quickly and easily complete reports. The tablets are easily used, well liked and have also been a cost savings to the service.

The service has held numerous EMR and EMT courses to recruit new staff. Director Bieghler has worked with the community to attract new students for the courses. The staff is committed to recruiting personnel by reaching out into the community for support. Kingman EMS has had a great response to the recruiting efforts. This can be attributed to the service’s continual involvement and visibility in the community.

Training is held monthly to keep personnel up-to-date with best practices. The service has implemented progressive protocols that allow technicians to provide quality care and meet the needs of the patients. The service provides training over a variety of topics to keep personnel competent and current. Local training is not the only training available; personnel attend outside training when offered. The staff have benefited from numerous training programs to increase knowledge, skills, and leadership abilities.

Not only does Kingman EMS respond to 911 emergencies and meeting the need of the local hospital transfers, the service provides numerous standbys for community events. Kingman EMS provides CPR training courses for the community as well as the local high school. The EMS service can be seen providing training, at standbys, and as a resource for the community. Their involvement in community events is remarkable. The visibility of the service participating in the community has tremendously impacted the community’s view of Kingman EMS. The service is respected and viewed as an asset to Kingman.

The nomination stated “Kingman EMS takes pride in their service and the prehospital care provided. It is important to the personnel to rise above the status quo. The staff is continually working to improve their service. It is their goal to ensure every emergency call receives the best possible quality of care. Director Bieghler leads the staff to take pride in their work and to care for their community.”

This award recognizes a volunteer (or combination of paid/volunteer) EMS system that exemplifies outstanding professionalism and service to the community it serves. This award honors agencies for their dedication, teamwork, and commitment to EMS.

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