Brave. Dedicated. Willing. Reliable.
These words describe the 80,000 licensed or certified EMS providers in California. They demonstrate these qualities every day by coming to the aid of others when they are most in need and working to ensure that the EMS system operates well. However, each year, due to circumstance or extraordinary effort, certain individuals among us shine the brightest. The EMS Authority seeks to recognize those individuals through the California Emergency Medical Services Awards Program.
Paramedic of the Year
Medic Ambulance Service
For demonstrating exemplary dedication to improving the EMS field by his leadership in his family's private ambulance business, local community paramedicine project and trauma system, local and statewide professional organizations, all the while still performing direct patient care as a field paramedic.
Characterized as the hardest working paramedic in California. James "Jimmy" Pierson consistently demonstrates his dedication to his community and continually strives to improve his local EMS system. James continues to work as a line paramedic at Medic Ambulance Service, where he also serves as the Chief Operating Officer and Vice President. He is also trained as a community paramedic and directs his region's post-discharge pilot program.
At the state level, James has driven California EMS as a Director at the California Ambulance Association (CAA), where he contributes incredible time, energy, and resources for the improvement of ambulance operations across our state. He additionally serves on the California Hospital Association (CHA) EMS and Trauma Committee. James has also been nominated to serve on the CA EMS Commission starting next year.
James is a licensed paramedic and holds a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management and Business Administration. He is simultaneously pursuing post-graduate degrees in Business Administration and Law.
EMS Educator of the Year
Captain Aaron Miranda
Poway Fire Department and Airlink USMX
For his meticulous and comprehensive training efforts in the fire service, national disaster response units, and abroad.
Since 1994, Aaron Miranda has obtained extensive experience in a multitude of EMS areas as both a provider and educator. He is a certified instructor of PHTLS, ACLS, EMPACT, AMLS, PEPP and GEMS. In addition to his extensive knowledge in EMS care and training, Aaron is further certified in areas of technical rescue. He applies all of this expertise as a member of the specialized FEMA/USAR CA-TF8 response team and as a Captain with the Poway Fire Department.
Aaron also extends his role as an educator to help those abroad. He is frequently a guest speaker at international EMS conferences, he serves as a technical reviser for multiple translated EMS education textbooks, and he also implemented a first-of-a-kind EMT training program in Mexico. Furthermore, he conducted the first Pediatric Education for Prehospital Professionals (PEPP) course in Mexico in 2005.
EMS Medical Director of the Year
David Duncan, MD, FAAEM
McClellan, CAL FIRE, REACH, CALSTAR
For expertly supporting air and ground emergency medical personnel with medical direction and leading statewide and national efforts in research, education, and medical device advancement.
Dr. Duncan is an accomplished emergency medicine physician with very diverse and extensive experience and has contributed significantly to the field of EMS. In 2018, REACH Medical Holdings appointed him as the executive medical director, serving over 50 aeromedical bases. As the medical director of CAL FIRE, Duncan helped develop a $3.3M proposal to update and modernize that service's electronic patient care record hardware and software.
Dr. Duncan was instrumental in capturing industry-leading airway management metrics, and achieved a 97% intubation success rate at the CALSTAR aeromedical service. CALSTAR also gained recognition as the "2016 Air Ambulance Program of the Year" (out of more than 300 aeromedical providers) during his tenure.
On a statewide level, Dr. Duncan was integral to a newly ratified Universal Scope of Practice for Air Ambulance and Critical Care Paramedics through his role as a member of the Emergency Medical Directors Association of California (EMDAC). He also serves as a member of the EMSA Director's Advisory Group. Additionally, Dr. Duncan actively participates in research, publishing, lecturing, paramedic education, and holds 15 medical device patents.
EMS Administrator of the Year
Coastal Valley EMS Agency
For his leadership on initiatives responsible for shaping EMS in California, developing model scope of practice guidelines for critical care paramedics, efforts in standardization of process and practice in the pre-hospital environment, and advancement of the statewide CARES registry for cardiac arrest patient data.
Bryan has worked diligently in an immensely challenging political landscape to assure the delivery of oversight retains independent and physician-based planning, regulation, and clinical direction. He demonstrates tenacity, character, and commitment to always do the right thing, and has used that compass as he guides the Coastal Valley EMS Agency in its compliance with state code and regulations in both EMS system leadership and competitive procurement.
Bryan's efforts and initiatives have shaped California EMS significantly. He has advocated tirelessly for a common scope of practice for critical care and aeromedical paramedics, which led to the successful adoption of a unified scope at the state level. His efforts of standardization have extended to the EMS Administrators Association (EMSAAC) and the Medical Directors Association (EMDAC), as well as the CA EMS Authority and Local EMS Authorities, where he encouraged collaboration and advancement of the pre-hospital discipline.
Bryan has also been instrumental in the development and promotion of the statewide CARES registry which will result in data-tracking and analysis from all or nearly-all of California's local EMS authorities in the pursuit of better patient outcomes. California administrators had previously withdrawn from this national program, and its continued viability is a result of Bryan's dedication to advancing paramedicine.
Medal of Valor
Recognizes an EMT for acts of personal valor or heroism which results in the saving of a life under extreme conditions and/or in extraordinary circumstances.
David Katz (LACo Sheriff's Dept.), Thad Woodward (LACo Sheriff's Dept.), Patrick O'Neill (LACoFD), Jack Garden (LACo Sheriff's Dept.; not pictured)
For their acts of bravery confronting dangerous weather conditions during the rescue of four stranded hikers inside the Malibu Creek State Park during the peak of a record-breaking, torrential rainstorm.
These four members of the Malibu Search and Rescue Team displayed the utmost courage when they fearlessly tracked down four hikers marooned inside the Malibu Creek State Park. The park's trails had completely washed away and become untamed waterways during incredibly heavy rainfall and wind. Despite these conditions, the team remained determined and aided in the eventual recovery of the hikers by helicopter hoist. These actions merit the highest commemoration for their dedication and selflessness displayed by the actions they took in the line of duty.
Recognizes a uniformed EMT or Paramedic who by act and deed represents the most outstanding achievement or accomplishment in EMS over an extended period of time.
Christina Grossner, American Medical Response (AMR) Sonoma Life Support
For over 25 years of advancing paramedicine and EMS in her local region through training, coordination of services, and quality improvement while continuing to work in direct patient care.
Christina got her start in EMS through attending the Santa Rosa Junior College Fire Academy in 1992, where she was the first female class leader in the history of the program. She subsequently attended the Santa Rosa Junior College Paramedic Academy and successfully transitioned from EMT to Paramedic with AMR Sonoma Life Support.
During career as a paramedic in Sonoma, Christina has become a paramedic preceptor, a paramedic field trainer, and an adjunct faculty member at the Santa Rosa Public Training Center. She served on the AMR Sonoma Quality Improvement Committee representing Santa Rosa Fire and AMR Sonoma. She has also received a promotion to relief supervisor, where she oversees the management of field crews, scheduling, dispatch, and the system as a whole. Christina is recognized for her longterm dedication to clinical care, quality assurance, initial and continual training, and provider support which have undoubtedly served her region and California EMS.
Distinguished Service Award
Recognizes an individual for distinguished service or achievement affecting statewide EMS over an extended period of time.
Michael Petrie, Monterey County EMS Agency
For over 30 years advancing the field of EMS in the areas of emergency services, homeland security, fusion center operations, strategic planning, capability and threat assessment, mass casualty incident response planning on local and state levels, EMS financing and economics, and EMS system design.
Michael has worked as an executive leader in EMS, emergency services, and homeland security for well over 30 years. He has been a licensed paramedic for over 35 years, is a certified emergency manager, and held a faculty appointment at the University of California, Berkeley while serving as the director of the Center for Infectious Diseases and Emergency Readiness (CIDER).
Michael has considerable leadership experience. He recently completed his second term as president of the EMS Administrators' Association of California (EMSAAC). Michael frequently authors articles for peer-reviewed and professional journals. He has also been a featured speaker for the California Ambulance Association, EMSAAC, EMDAC, the California Fire Chiefs Association, and the California Hospital Association.
In addition to his work in EMS, Michael has served on a multitude of boards, committees, and councils, including two terms as a city council member and mayor pro tem for the City of Patterson. He has also served on the faculty at the Naval Postgraduate School's Center for Homeland Defense and Security as a thesis advisor and editorial review board member, after receiving a master's degree in Homeland Security and Defense from that institution. Additionally, Michael holds a Master's in Business Administration and a University of Saint Andrews certificate in Terrorism Studies.
Meritorious Service Medal
Recognizes an individual for a meritorious act or service within EMS. This award also recognizes an EMT for an act that is above and beyond the call of duty in the course of a particular EMS emergency or event.
Nicole Androski, American Medical Response San Diego
For undertaking immediate, lifesaving measures of an incapacitated driver while on duty as an EMT.
While at a stoplight during a routine shift, Nicole responded to the driver of a corvette who appeared to be having a seizure. She safely made access to the rolling vehicle and brought it to a stop. She then began an assessment of the driver and found him to be pulseless. She began CPR while her partner brought an AED. They provided two defibrillations, successfully cardioverting the patient who began breathing spontaneously. Her immediate actions saved the driver, his corvette, and other drivers and bystanders from harm.
Henry Nguyen, John Pita and Carlos Hawkins, Paramedic Plus Alameda
For risking their own lives to valiantly rescue a driver from a vehicle engulfed in flames.
After responding to a call in Oakland, CA, the three crew members were returning to quarters when they happened across a fiery vehicle collision. The vehicle had struck a concrete wall at a high rate of speed and sustained significant front end damage with passenger compartment intrusion. Without hesitation, the three advanced towards the wreckage and pulled the driver to safety.
Steve Carroll, Ventura County EMS Agency
For more than 30 years of dedication, leadership and excellence in providing care while serving as an EMS administrator, an EMT and paramedic in the County of Ventura.
From a start as an EMT and then paramedic all the way to the EMS administrator, Steve has exemplified determination and leadership in the field. Steve leads by example and works tirelessly to support his peers in the line of duty and in upholding the values of prehospital care. Steve takes great pride in serving his EMS community and Ventura County as witnessed in recent disasters but also day-to-day operations.
Jeff Beigh, Roseville Police Department
For his dedication to public safety and more than 10 years of service as a first responder demonstrating commitment to teamwork, training, and tactical response.
As a sergeant with the Roseville Police Department, Jeff oversees the Social Services Unit assigned to schools and problem-oriented policing, such as homeless outreach. Jeff, a licensed paramedic, also serves as the Medic Team Lead for Roseville's SWAT Team. In both roles, Jeff is known for his efforts in coordinating both his team and other first responders in protection of public health and welfare. A dedicated educator, he has taken a dynamic approach to educating police officers and firefighters in incident response and opioid overdose protocols. His work highlights an importance in cooperation and teamwork, and his career accomplishments attest to his success in this area.
Nathan DuVardo, American Medical Response Sonoma County Division
For his selfless leadership and dedication to preserving the lives of nearly 200 elderly care facility residents in Sonoma County during the 2017 Tubbs Fire.
During the heart of the Tubbs Fire, Paramedic DuVardo and his peers responded urgently to hundreds of calls across the region, working nonstop through the first night as the fire grew beyond what most could imagine. Nathan subsequently found almost 200 elderly at a residential care facility. Recognizing their lack of resources and egress, Nathan assisted the group to safety with courageous and expert leadership saving their lives.
Heidi Nishimoto, Kristina Douglas, Mason Kinnard (not pictured), Paramedics Plus Alameda
For fearlessly rising to the aid of a fellow public servant trying to gain control of a violent assailant who they had just rescued from a vehicle collision.
Paramedics Douglas, Kinnard, and Nishimoto were called to the scene of a violent car crash in a residential neighborhood of Oakland, CA. They began care of a patient who suddenly turned violent. The individual began fighting with an officer and started to overpower him. Their instinctive action took control of the scene and saved their fellow public servant from imminent danger.
Recognizes an EMS provider who, while in an off-duty or volunteer capacity, makes an extremely noteworthy contribution to efforts which result in the saving of a life.
Laurie Leonhardt, Community Hospital fo the Peninsula
For the bravery and valor exhibited while stopping to pull a man from a burning vehicle following an accident on Highway 101.
After leaving work ill, nurse Laurie Leonhardt was making her way home along Highway 101 when she came upon a multi-car collision. Taking notice of the incident, she saw what appeared to be a person trapped in vehicle. As she approached to help, the vehicle caught fire. Laurie reacted immediately, helping to free the man and save his life.
Mark Evan Stevenson, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
For his prudent leadership and swift response while coming to the aid of an unresponsive car accident victim.
While driving off-duty one evening, Mark came upon a woman lying motionless in an intersection. The woman was a victim of a hit-and-run just mere moments before his arrival. Mark took immediate action blocking traffic with his vehicle, directing bystanders to call 9-1-1, and creating a barrier around the patient to prevent further danger. When he noted she was having trouble breathing, he grabbed his medical pack and began administering breaths with a bag valve mask. Her vital signs began to improve. That day EMS had an abnormally delayed response, and Mark's quick actions prevented a potentially deadly incident.
Steve Sullivan, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
For his steadfast focus and firm commitment to lifesaving care both in the line of duty and as a civilian regardless of the circumstances.
Years of experience, service and training for a litany of emergent situations ensured Deputy Sullivan was the right person in the right place. While at an event for a non-profit organization, Steve noticed distress at a table nearby. A woman appeared to be choking and her husband was attempting the Heimlich maneuver. Steve stepped over his own table to come to their aid just as the woman became limp and unresponsive. Steve immediately began CPR and continued his efforts until paramedics arrived and were able to restore cardiac activity. The woman was transported to a hospital where she was treated and then recovered.
Community Service Award
Recognizes an EMT or Paramedic who has made an outstanding commitment to non-patient care aspects of a community's EMS system.
Ken Sexton, Donnie Self, Hall Ambulance Service
For developing a close relationship with the senior citizens of the remote desert community of Boron and initiating an annual BBQ luncheon fundraiser to benefit their senior center over the past 10 years.
The employees of Hall Ambulance Post 17 in Boron, CA have developed a unique relationship with the town's senior citizens. In a place where recreational amenities are limited, the Boron Senior Citizens' Center provides a welcome opportunity for golden-agers to come together. Hall ambulance paramedics and EMTs come to the center frequently to provide blood pressure and wellness checks. In return, they enjoy a hot lunch with the residents. Beginning in 2008, Paramedic Ken Sexton and EMT Donnie Self began hosting an annual BBQ benefitting the center and helping ensure this critical service continues in the region. The grassroots effort continues to thrive and the senior citizens of Boron look forward to the event each year.
Inter-Service EMS Recognition Medal
Recognizes outstanding heroism, extraordinary service, or achievement of non-EMS first responders, lifeguards, dispatchers, or public or private safety officers for outstanding or exceptional support of a particular EMS emergency, event or operation.
Mark Aldridge, Jason Little, Erick Gelhaus, and David Edny, Sonoma County Sheriff's Office
For quickly responding to a cardiac arrest victim and performing lifesaving CPR for a prolonged amount of time.
Sheriffs Aldridge, Little, Gelhaus and Edney responded to a 9-1-1 call to find a wife performing CPR on her husband. The sheriffs took over CPR and continued assistance after the arrival of Graton firefighters. Upon arrival of AMR ambulance paramedics and EMTs and initiation of Advanced Life Support, the patient was transported to Sutter Hospital. After more than 50 minutes of continued CPR, multiple shocks, and medication the husband's heart began beating normally and he began breathing spontaneously. The hospital staff received the patient and continued resuscitation and treatment. After five days, the husband was discharged from the hospital with no long-term effects. This incident is an excellent example of all agencies working together to achieve a common goal, and the quick response by the deputies directly impacted the outcome and saved a life.
Matthew Floresca, Fremont Police Department
For saving the lives of two individuals at different times on the same day by administering CPR and use of an AED.
On July 24, 2018, Fremont police officers were dispatched to a person down. Officer Floresca was first on scene and located a male down in the driveway of the residence. After immediately checking vital signs and finding no pulse or breathing, Floresca began chest compressions as he was trained. Shortly thereafter, Fremont FD Paramedics arrived and took over care. A pulse was established and the patient transported to Kaiser Hospital for further care. Later that same evening, officers were dispatched to Kaiser Hospital for a possible dead body in the parking lot. Officer Floresca was again the first to arrive at scene, and found a person pulseless and not breathing. He directed a Kaiser employee to continue CPR while he retrieved the AED from his patrol vehicle. After applying the AED, a shock was advised. A shock was delivered and CPR continued. Fremont FD personnel arrived on scene and assumed care. A pulse was located, and the man was taken into the hospital's emergency department. In both instances, the correct and swift action by Officer Floresca restored life, giving both patients opportunities for further care at the hospital.
Civilian Award for EMS
Recognizes a civilian (non-certified, non-health care provider) who provides extraordinary service during the course of an EMS emergency.
Chad and Chelsea Moore, Morro Bay, California
On July 6, Angela Hernandez, a 23-year-old Oregon woman, was driving her white Jeep Patriot from Portland to Southern California when she mysteriously disappeared and fell out of communication with her family. Angela was in the final half of her drive to Southern California heading down Highway 1 when she swerved to avoid a small animal in the roadway. Her car plunged off the highway and down a cliff near the Kirk Creek Campground in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Lucky to survive the crash, Angela Hernandez spent seven days at the base of the cliff, severely injured and unable to move before she was found by Chad and Chelsea Moore.
The Moores travel to Big Sur on every other month camping trips, usually staying in the Plaskett Creek campground near Highway 1. On this trip, they decided to try Kirk Creek Campground instead of the norm, a decision that probably saved Angela's life. While walking on the beach, the couple discovered a badly damaged Jeep. They gathered some items from the vehicle to take back so they could report it to the authorities.
While walking back the way they came, Chelsea heard something over the sound of the surf. They turned to find Angela trying to stand up and calling for help although barely audible. Angela was in rough shape. Badly sunburned, dehydrated and with significant injuries. The couple made a quick decision for Chelsea to run back and call for help, while Chad stayed on the beach with Angela.
Overhearing Chelsea's 9-1-1 call, a bystander realized Chelsea had found the missing person on a flyer in their posession and showed this to her. Now understanding the significant timeframe of exposure to the elements and lack of food and water Angela had overcome, Chelsea sprung to action gathering supplies like blankets and snacks before heading back to Angela and Chad. The couple stayed with Angela until first responders arrived and took her to the hospital. Angela was later found to have a brain hemorrhage, four fractured ribs, fractured collar bones, a collapsed lung, ruptured blood vessels in her eyes, and severe sunburns to her hands, feet and face.
Jeff Perez (not pictured), Long Beach, California
For the rescue of two people and a dog from a sinking truck after it lost control and splashed into the waters of the Alamitos Marina. Witnesses said the pickup truck crashed through the railing along Marina Drive and into the waters behind it. Jeff and others jumped into the water to help free the occupants of the car-- a woman, her son and their dog. "And no sooner did I hop into the water," he said, "the lifegaurd captain was handing over the older lady to me." And he says if given the chance he would do it again. " I would just hope people would do the right thing," he said, "and that's what were all here for, to be here for one another and for support." The mother, son and dog were all safely rescued without injury.
Clinical Excellence Award
Recognizes an EMT or Paramedic who provides noteworthy patient care and treatment during the course of their duties.
Bill Bullard, Graton Fire Protection District
Zach Morrow, Graton Fire Protection District
Ben Hedlund, Graton Fire Protection District
Leslie Mitsuoka, AMR Sonoma Life Support
Alexander Fair, AMR Sonoma Life Support
Miek Gabbert, AMR
Andrew Long, AMR
Saul Gaytan, AMR
Matthew Ramirez, AMR
Thomas Mayberry, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Charles Miranda, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Brice Stella, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Thomas Bogdan, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Clint Hughes, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Certificate of Commendation
Barry Hurd, Oak Valley Hospital District Ambulance
James Metzger, Hall Ambulance Service
Manuel Martinez, Hall Ambulance Service
Steve Prater, Hall Ambulance Service
Mike Zapiain, Hall Ambulance Service
Scott Morgan, Hall Ambulance Service
Chuck Pode, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Michael Rogers, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Tui O. Wright, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Mark Hollinger, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Rocky Morton, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Scott Sand, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
David Stephens, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Dustin LeBrun, CA Department of Parks and Recreation