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FirstWatch founder honored for leadership mantra: ‘What is the right thing to do’

Todd Stout was surprised with the Pinnacle Leadership Award after his father accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award


Todd Stout accepted the Pinnacle Leadership Award for his work as the founder of FirstWatch, a company that helps public safety agencies turn raw data into useful information.

Image Ray Kemp

By Jay Fitch

Like father, like son.

After Jack Stout accepted the Pinnacle Lifetime Achievement Award for his pioneering EMS management concepts, presenter Jay Fitch, co-founder of Fitch & Associates, wouldn’t let him leave.

“Jack I need you to stay right here for a minute because there’s more to the story,” Fitch said. “We have another award to present tonight and I need your help with it.”

In a surprise presentation, Fitch presented Jack’s son Todd Stout with the Pinnacle Leadership Award. Stout is the founder of FirstWatch, a company that helps public safety agencies turn raw data into useful information.

“He threw himself into his business with a passion,” Fitch said. “But with a passion tempered by kindness for others, respect for every individual he encountered, and by always asking the question, ‘what is the right thing to do?’”

A leader from an early age

Fitch met Stout through his father, and hired him at 16-years-old.

“I thought long and hard about this but can tell you now that hiring Todd as the system’s stock boy was one of the best leadership decisions I ever made,” Fitch said. “Todd took a lot of grief from the medics but he proved himself and went on to become an EMT and medic, taking care of people in the streets of Kansas City.”

Stout went on to work with his father for a few years as a consultant before joining EMSA in Oklahoma City as the vice president and chief operating officer of the Western division. He then moved to California and served in business development with Lifefleet ambulance before joining TriTech as the director of VisiCad.

“Todd kicked it to another level about 15 years ago by developing First Watch,” Fitch said.

Stout and his colleagues have helped police, fire, EMS and public health agencies capture and interpret data used to positively improve health outcomes and our systems’ operational performance, he said

Stout’s wife Amy, his daughter Samantha, and his son Ben were there to see him accept the award.

“When we honor Todd tonight, we honor the leaders of our profession,” Fitch said. “We honor the best qualities that each of us strive to exhibit, qualities that Todd exemplifies.

“We honor the innovators among us, who never stop asking the question ‘What if?’ We honor the mentors, who never fail to make the time to share what they’ve learned. And we honor those who lead with a caring, humble heart, and who gauge their decisions by asking, ‘What is the right thing to do?’”

For more than three decades, the Fitch & Associates team of consultants has provided customized solutions to the complex challenges faced by public safety organizations of all types and sizes. From system design and competitive procurements to technology upgrades and comprehensive consulting services, Fitch & Associates helps communities ensure their emergency services are both effective and sustainable. For ideas to help your agency improve performance in the face of rising costs, call 888-431-2600 or visit