KEMSA Award Winners 2019

The Kansas Emergency Medical Services Association (KEMSA) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2019 KEMSA annual awards. The awards were presented during the “Honoring Our Own” awards banquet that took place on Saturday, August 10, 2019 at 7:00 pm at the Kansas Star Event Center in Mulvane, Kan. during the annual KEMSA Conference & Expo. We congratulate the following recipients and recognize their outstanding contributions to EMS in Kansas and the communities and patients they serve.

Learn about the 2019 winners below.

EMT of the Year - Kelcee Pelton

Kelcee is an Advanced EMT with Larned EMS.  Kelcee started with Larned EMS part-time in April 2014. The first thing her co-workers noticed about Kelcee was her continual drive for improvement. She was the first one to want to review a call afterwards to discuss strengths and weaknesses and almost never misses the opportunity to attend trainings! In mid-2019, Kelcee approached the new assistant director about forming an in-house committee to focus on employee recognition, public relations, community education and children’s activities.  Kelcee feels in her heart, we are public servants, which to her means being present in the community.  In a very short amount of time, and with very little funds to do so, she led the department in several public events, including EMS week! Previously, EMS week was celebrated in-house only. This year, the Public Relations committee, under Kelcee’s lead, visited schools to speak with the children, got a proclamation from the Mayor, participated in a touch-a-truck event, hosted a large open house and organized participation in a local glow parade! City council members who had never set foot in the station were showing up to visit and find out more about the department and the individuals involved.  Kelcee humbly exhibits a continual representation of being a public servant and has lots more plans to reaching out the community.

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 - Rochelle Hobart

Rochelle is a lieutenant with Johnson County MED-Act and has been in the EMS profession for almost 15 years. Her experience has led her to become an expert clinician and a universally recognized leader in her department. Rochelle was nominated for her work as Team Coordinator for the service’s Special Operations Group, which includes Disaster Medical Support and Hazmat Medical Support teams.  She has tirelessly led that group from the front, never asking her team to do something she was not already doing. Under her guidance, they have brand new relationships with co-responding fire departments. Rochelle was a persistent force in making sure that the county technical rescue teams understood that the system is designed to rescue people in a disaster, not just carry out isolated tasks. She emphasized that if there is not a patient-first focus in trainings then lives could be lost in a disaster. Rescue teams are now actively reaching out to have the group participate in their trainings. Rochelle has added continuing education hours for all responders, clinical protocols and health advocacy to the existing response system. This inclusive model of training and response makes the entire system better able to care for patients in her community.

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.

Donald E. White Educator of the Year - Adiel Garcia

Adiel is a paramedic and Division Chief with Johnson County MED-ACT.  Adiel has spearheaded the design and development of quarterly system training involving all nine of the Fire Departments in Johnson County (about 800 personnel). He has also participated in teaching first aid to law enforcement, high school students and teachers, and to the community at-large. He is actively involved in several projects that maintain the Johnson County EMS System as high performance, including simulation, credentialing, and quality improvement. Aside from education and training, he is developing a Community Paramedic program for MED-ACT. Additionally, Adiel has been an adjunct professor at Johnson County Community College for three years and helps teach labs and ECG interpretation. Adiel's hobby is international EMS development. He takes EMS best practices and develops them into instructional chunks that fit the reality of other countries, mostly in Latin America, and shares that knowledge to give different perspectives in an attempt to elevate the standard of care.  He epitomizes professionalism, life-long learning, and selflessness. He is an EMS educator who consistently looks for innovative ways to make education fun and accessible and maintains high standards.

This award is offered to recognize any Kansas Instructor Coordinator 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.

Administrator of the Year - Jeri Smith

Jeri serves as the EMS Director for Arkansas City Fire/EMS Department based out of Arkansas City, Kansas since November 2010. Jeri has been an Affiliate Faculty/Instructor for over 20 years for the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT). She has been the Regional Coordinator for NAEMT Education for about eight years now. She is also an American Heart Association Instructor teaching Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), & Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS). She has served in numerous leadership positions and serves on the Kansas Board of EMS, the Kansas Region III EMS Board of Directors, Cowley County College EMS advisory Committee, Arkansas City Kansas Safety Committee, Cowley County Emergency Communications Board, Cowley County Medical Task Force, and is a member of KEMSA.

Jeri knows the importance of community involvement and provides necessary training, education, and illness/injury prevention to the public.  Jeri is seen as a valuable resource with strength in leadership and strives to hold herself and her employees accountable for their actions. She believes in celebrating their successes and assisting them through their failures.

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.

Physician of the Year - Dr. Paige Dodson

Dr. Dodson serves as an EMS Medical Director, overseeing 100 + prehospital providers in the largest county of Kansas. She is a productive member of the Kansas Board of EMS Medical Advisory Committee, representing rural/frontier perspectives and experience. She has frequently contributed to Kansas-wide EMS Medical Director educational programs. Dr. Dodson was appointed in 2018 as one of the first Kansas Search & Rescue Medical Directors. As part of this new role, she completed additional training, Disaster Medical Specialist, to support EMS and Rescue teams across the state. In 2017, she was recognized as 1 of 40, Under 40 Physicians of the Year by the Wichita Business Journal. In addition to her passion for EMS and Rescue, Dr. Dodson practices as an Emergency Medical physician fulltime at the local hospital. Dr. Dodson’s focus on prehospital clinical care is evident. She spends many hours every month consulting, educating and guiding best practice for our EMS system. She is an EMS physician leader of the highest caliber who is an integral part of the Butler County EMS family.

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, serving Medical Director or any other physician who has provided a positive impact to Kansas EMS.

EMS Support Person of the Year - Kathleen Friesen (posthumously)

During her life, Kathleen served as a Principal at Friesen Group, she owned her own independent consulting business for 14 years, worked as a Director of Information Technology, and as an operations manager. Kathleen Friesen had 25 years of experience in supporting Fortune 100 companies, small businesses, and not-for-profit organizations by providing process facilitation, strategic planning, training, team building, and project management.  While Kathleen was not a certified EMS provider, she had a passion for helping others and wanted to contribute to the profession that her husband has been working in for decades.  One of Kathleen’s major contributions to KEMSA was that she authored a “Behind the Desk” column for the KEMSA Chronicle magazine for over 10 years. That was four articles a year for 10 years in order to help and improve EMS and to get people thinking.  For Kansas EMS, Kathleen was a regular presenter for Sedgwick County EMS in Leadership Academies. She would teach about Dr Taibi Kahler’s Process Communication Model, challenging new supervisors to develop tools they could effectively use to communicate with employees given the variety of ways people take in and process information.  She also helped with what we called “the Transition” in EMS when new scopes of practice were adopted.  Kathleen could also been seen teaching at numerous EMS educator workshops across the state.  Kathleen was always upbeat and courteous to even the most disgruntled person she would encounter.  Kathleen has helped a countless number of us sort through leadership challenges in our careers, and she is missed. 
(Jon Friesen accepted the award on her behalf.)

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. 

Community Service Award - Alyson Angell

Alyson started at Johnson County MED-ACT in May 2016 as their Community Education Officer.  She has developed a collaborative rapport within the EMS System and is a participant in several health occupations and advanced professional services in school districts throughout Johnson County. Through the HeartSafe initiative in Johnson County and with her helping guide the program, more than 70,000 people have learned the life saving techniques of Hands-Only CPR and how to use an AED. Alyson established Johnson County’s Stop the Bleed program in early 2018. Since then she has taught more than 500 people the principles and techniques of this program aimed at reducing the morbidity and mortality associated with serious bleeding and trauma. She also created the Grave Mistakes program, which teaches high school teens about the dangers of distracted driving. She also serves as the department’s Public Information Officer (PIO). If that isn’t enough, she is the publisher and editor of the service’s newsletter, The Med-Act Minute and coordinates other department publications and EMS Week activities. She serves as our liaison to the news media, and the regional PIO association.  She is more than a representative, liaison and coordinator.  Alyson is an example of the service’s philosophy to leave the community better than we found it and embodies the values of trust, integrity, compassion, respect, humor and teamwork.

The community service award is given to an individual or team who has been involved in the development of innovative approaches to injury and illness prevention or EMS awareness in the community.

Career Service of the Year - Riley County EMS

Over the last few years, Riley county EMS has seen growth and advancements in education and training, prehospital and protocol development, medical community involvement, upgrades by the agency, well-being programs, and more.  A few of their accomplishments, included:

  • They became an NAEMT Training Site offering AMLS and EPC to staff and other providers in the region;
  • They partnered with the Riley County Health Department and the Riley County Police Department to make sure all company level officers received certifications in Mental Health First Aid;
  • They meet for one-hour on a weekly basis with a group of shareholders in the medical community here in Riley County in regard to their Community Care Team and other issues;
  • RCEMS sent two providers through a 40 hour Peer Support certification program and has now established a Peer Support Team alongside their partners at Riley County Police Department and the Manhattan Fire Department;
  • RCEMS sent three of its leaders through the Fit Responder train the trainer course in Topeka this year; and

RCEMS continues to support a robust community outreach and education program including nearly 1400 hours of CPR, Stop the Bleed, and general demonstration/public relations events.

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 - Ellinwood EMS

Ellinwood EMS may be a small volunteer service with one paid full-time director, but they strive to achieve ALS care for every call. After a recent AEMT class, they now have 15 people on their roster that are AEMT or higher. Ellinwood EMS had four code saves in 2018. In other advancements, the service recently went to a protocol app providing all members of the staff ready access to protocols.  Ellinwood EMS is very involved in the health and well-being of their community. The service has participated in Stroke awareness at the football games providing fans and players FAST cards, we have taught over 422 people CPR 2018-2019. Stop the Bleed has been a huge push within the community and for our law enforcement with 120 people certified. Ellinwood EMS strives to educate the community and volunteers to always be able to provide the best care possible. Ellinwood EMS has pushed CPR in the community and the use of AEDS.  They believe because of this crusade, it has made a huge impact on the community saving the lives of community members they love.

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.

Cara Everhart Award – Matthew Russ and Brady Giesken

Matthew and Brady were recognized for their exceptional devotion to duty when it comes to caring for some of our smallest patients as part of the AMR NICU Transport Team.  They work to stabilize the baby and support the patient’s families before and after a transport. They are exposed to the most difficult outcomes yet maintain a positive attitude. They both regularly attend additional specialty training for neonates and participate in public relations events within the community. Day in, day out, these guys get the job done with professional competence and a confident demeanor which leaves no doubt the NICU team and their patients are in the best of hands.  (Brady Giesken not pictured)

This award is sponsored by EMS for Children (EMSC) and recognizes outstanding individual(s) or a group that has shown excellence and dedication to children through pediatric emergency care and/or family centered care.

Lifetime Achievement Award - Terry David

Terry retired as EMS Chief for Hutchinson Regional Medical Center/Reno County EMS in 2019.  Terry began his career in EMS in the early 1980s. He progressed from EMT to paramedic and worked as a paramedic for Reno County EMS. Over his career he served as the long time EMS Director for Rice County EMS, and for the past number of years, as the EMS Chief for Reno County EMS. Terry retired from his EMS career this year, leaving a legacy of passionate service for the betterment of EMS at the local level, the regional level, the state level, and the national level.  In Rice County he moved the service from a basic life support level to the advanced life support level. He improved the EMS station facilities with the building of a new station that was joined with the Health Department. Terry’s return to Reno County as the EMS Chief brought passion, pride, and performance into a service that had seen difficult times.  Terry served as the chair, and executive director of Region III EMS Council for more a period that spanned over 20 years. He was influential in the development of the Major Emergency Response Group (MERGe) and served as its commander for the first 15 years of the team’s existence. He functioned as the Regional liaison for the Homeland Security Council.  Terry has been actively involved in the Kansas EMS Association as a founding member, past president, and conference planner for a number of years. He is also a member of the National Association of EMTs Board of Directors.  Terry has worked diligently at the federal level through our State Representatives and Senators.  Terry has left on the table in his pursuit of being a positive force in EMS.

This award recognizes an individual 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.

Presidential Leadership Award – Dennis Mauk, Sedgwick County EMS

This award is selected by the KEMSA President and given to someone who has shown great leadership in EMS.

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