ATLANTIC CITY, NJ --More than a dozen individuals, two EMS agencies and a New Jersey High School were recognized on Oct. 5 for their exemplary actions in times of emergencies and for supporting their fellow New Jerseyans during the 2018 National Conference on EMS in Atlantic City. The 5-day conference from Oct. 2-6 at Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center drew more than 1,000 EMS responders and featured education sessions on overdose patients, shark attacks, school shootings, emergency childbirth, motorcycle trauma and blast scenes.
The New Jersey Department of Health received 150 award nominations. Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal attended the awards ceremony and expressed his gratitude to the EMS community for their heroism and dedication.
“Whether it was a neighbor helping a neighbor, a child displaying good citizenship, a nurse providing care, an agency responding to a mass casualty disaster or an individual who dedicated their entire life to the EMS profession -- these are people who really rise above their fellow citizens, put others’ first and in some cases, risk their lives in the process,” Commissioner Elnahal said.
In the past, the EMS Conference was a statewide event for New Jersey’s emergency responder community but as interest grew and the conference began attracting EMS professionals from more than a dozen states and even international providers, organizers opened it up as a National Conference this year.
“First responders are the front lines of all emergencies, lending their talent and support to residents when they need it most,” Commissioner Elnahal said. “First responders put their lives on the line every day. Just two days ago, a police officer in South Carolina was killed in the line of duty and six others were injured. These tragedies are devastating to families and communities and we must honor and support them.”
The conference included an all-day symposium on large-scale incidents for healthcare and public health officials on Oct. 3 that featured speakers from New Jersey’s emergency management, public health, healthcare, EMS and mental health communities. Simulation competitions allowed teams of EMS professionals to test their ability to triage and treat simulated patients, competing against other EMS agencies in both Advanced Life Support (ALS) and Basic Life Support (BLS) categories. With more than 100 sessions, attendees honed their skills, toured state‐of-the-art vehicles and learned about advances in mobile healthcare technology. The goal was to give attendees the education and resources needed to enhance patient care and reinforce procedures that allow for smooth and efficient on-scene operations.
Commissioner Elnahal thanked the EMS community for their work in helping to address the opioid epidemic. In 2018 alone, 2,194 people overdosed in New Jersey – an average of about eight lives claimed per day. Naloxone, the overdose reversal drug, was administered 10,763 times, and that is often by first responders.
“We are working hard to stem this tide every day, and among the many professionals battling this crisis are New Jersey’s 32,000 EMS providers who encounter overdose victims every single day,” Commissioner Elnahal said. “It is not uncommon for EMS providers to treat the same patient several times in a week or even in the same working day.”
Commissioner Elnahal also recognized two staff members in the Department’s Office of Emergency Medical Services who will be retiring at the end of this year: Tom Hendrickson and Christopher Tams.
The 2018 NJ EMS Award recipients, announced during the 19th annual EMS Awards Program, are:
- Outstanding EMS Call Mount Olive for the Morris County Bus Crash
- Outstanding EMS Action by a Youth Anthony Fiore and Christopher Fiore, both of Kendall Park Agency: Boy Scouts
- Outstanding EMS Action by a Citizen Michael Benson, of Parsippany
- Outstanding First Responder Jose Morales and Russell Post, both of Newton Township Agency: Newton Police Department
- Outstanding EMT Peggy Hissim, of Oxyford Agency: Oxyford EMS
- Outstanding Paramedic Robert Conklin Agency: Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst
- Outstanding ALS-SCTU Nurse Brandon Muhlgeier, of Monroe Township Agency: RWJ Barnabas EMS
- Outstanding EMS Physician Dr. Matthew Letizia, of Mahwah Agency: Trinitas Regional Medical Center
- Outstanding EMS Administrator Glenn Deitz, of Livingston Agency: Atlantic Ambulance Corporation
- Outstanding EMS Educator Richard Huff, of Atlantic Highlands Agency: Atlantic Highlands First Aid
- Outstanding EMS Agency Newton Volunteer First Aid & Rescue Squad
- EMS Volunteer Lifetime Achievement Award Kenneth Krohe, of Keyport Agency: Keyport First Aid Squad
- EMS Career Lifetime Achievement Award Steven Cicala, of Belleville Agency: Holy Name Medical Center
- Outstanding Hospital ER Nurse Elizabeth Bianchini, of Toms River Agency: Jersey Shore University Medical Center
- Emergency Preparedness Achievement Award Pascack Valley Regional High School
- Outstanding EMS Safety Award Michael Nahas, of Clayton Agency: Gloucester County EMS
- Director’s Award Andy Lovell, of Clayton Agency: Gloucester County EMS