Relationships, excellence and caring: The components of an EMS provider

EMS World Expo 2017 Opening Ceremonies and Keynote brought local responders, industry leaders and an EMS legend together to recognize another year of EMS


By Kerri Hatt, EMS1 Senior Editor

The Clark County Fire Department, law enforcement and EMS providers did not expect a MCI impacting 22,000 people, with more than 400 shot from above as thousands fled the scene. And yet, they had prepared – through training, and through building relationships between agencies. The Las Vegas shooting that occurred Oct. 1 took place just one month after the local police put on a PD 101 clinic for the fire department. 

Randolph Mantooth delivered an inspirational keynote based on his observations of the profession he helped introduce when “Emergency!” first aired on Saturday nights on NBC 45 years ago. (Photo/International Association of Fire Chiefs)
Randolph Mantooth delivered an inspirational keynote based on his observations of the profession he helped introduce when “Emergency!” first aired on Saturday nights on NBC 45 years ago. (Photo/International Association of Fire Chiefs)

“If you don’t have rock solid relationships, with your fire departments, your EMS agencies, your law enforcement, your hospitals, that’s what you need to take away. That’s what we have here and that really paid off that night of October 1,” Clark County Fire Department Fire Chief Gregory D. Cassell told attendees.

Though they hadn’t expected the tragedy, their training, preparation and relationships gave first responders the ability to adapt to the situation in front of them and to manage the scene.

“We teach command and control, in the police academy. They come to us and do PD 101 – how you can help them,” Chief Cassell said. He noted for the cost of a burrito – who doesn’t enjoy a burrito? – you can sit down with someone from another local agency and start the conversation. In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, Chief Cassell stressed, “I can’t say it enough, build those relationships.”

National awards of excellence winners

The following 2017 National EMS Awards of Excellence were presented during the opening ceremonies:

  • Dick Ferneau Career Service of the Year Award (sponsored by Ferno): Allina Health EMS, St. Paul, Minn.
  • Volunteer Service of the Year Award (sponsored by Zoll): Greenlawn Fire Dept. EMS, Greenlawn, N.Y.
  • 2017 NAEMT  EMT of the Year (sponsored by Braun Industries): Ryan Houser, Morristown, N.J.
  • NAEMT Educator of the Year Award (sponsored by Jones & Bartlett): Ginny Renkiewicz, paramedic, Fayetteville, N.C.
  • 2017 NAEMT Military Medic of the Year (sponsored by North American Rescue): Sgt. Jacob Ponczkowski, U.S. Army, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
  • 2017 NAEMT Paramedic of the Year (sponsored by Nasco): Terry Bottjen, paramedic, Faith, S.D.

The following scholarship winners were also announced:

  • Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma Scholarship Award: Lisa La Russo
  • iSimulate 2017 Excellence in Simulation Award: Eric McCullough

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Baxter Larmon, PhD, MICP, Professor of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA.

Caring is in EMS providers’ blood

To attendees' delight, Randolph Mantooth delivered an inspirational keynote based on his observations of the profession he helped introduce when “Emergency!” first aired on Saturday nights on NBC 45 years ago.

Mantooth also recognized the response to the recent attack in Las Vegas, recognizing:

  • The first responders: the law enforcement, firefighters and EMS personnel who converged on the scene.
  • The second responders: the nursing, surgical and medical personnel in the hospitals who worked for hours to save hundreds of lives.
  • The third responders: civilians who controlled bleeding, carried the injured and transported them to ambulances and hospitals, then lined up at 4:30 in the morning to donate blood for the victims.
  • The fourth responders: the ordinary citizens who brought food and water to the line for those waiting to give blood.
  • The fifth responders: the airline companies who flew the victims’ families to Las Vegas. The Las Vegas hotels who put these people up. The restaurants who fed them. All at no cost.
  • The sixth responders: the ambulance services who said they’re not going to be sending out any bills. And the hospital services who said the same.
  • The seventh responders: Las Vegas-based retailer Zappos, which set up a match fund to pay for the victims’ funeral costs.
  • The eighth responders: Steve Sisolak, chairman of the Clark County Commission, who with Las Vegas Sheriff Joe Lombardo, set up an aid fund and raised thousands for victims in under a week.

“They’re all responders and they all have something in common with you,” Mantooth said, “Courage, compassion and caring.” 

He noted despite all the technological advances to EMS care, and beyond all the death, chaos, pathos and poignancy EMS providers encounter, it’s the caring that keeps them going.  

“To truly care for people, you need to truly care for people, and you need to let them know you care. You need to look up from the wall of anonymity and look them in the eye and tell them everything is going to be OK because you are there to help them,” Mantooth related.

“It’s not always easy. People are drunk, high, smelly, abusive … frequent fliers, low pay, sometimes no pay. It dogs you on your every run. It’s tough what you do, physically, emotionally, mentally, financially and it’s tough on your families. And yet you still do it,” Mantooth emphasized. “Courage, compassion and caring. It’s in your DNA. It’s in your blood.”  

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