Indiana Emergency Response Conference Announces 2019 Award Winners
Legislator of the Year
Senator Jon Ford
Senator Jon Ford has been a huge supporter of public safety, proven through his work on Senate Enrolled Act 85, which increases the basic monthly pension benefit for police officers and firefighters. More importantly, this law increases the monthly benefit for the surviving spouse of a fallen police officer and/or firefighter. Since taking office in 2014, this senator has supported police officers and firefighters not only with words, but with actions.
Fire Instructor of the Year (Individual)
Steve Jordan, Instructor, Evansville Fire Department
This award recognizes an individual who has made Indiana’s fire service training safer, more effective and more professional. From the nomination form: This leader works tirelessly to make those around them better. Recently, Steve Jordan’s instructor colleagues became unavailable in the middle of a recruit class, leaving him responsible for finishing the series of classes. Jordan was able to seamlessly educate the recruit class and graduated a successful group of firefighters.
Fire Instructor of the Year (Division)
Ohio Township Volunteer Fire Department, Training Division (Newburgh)
This award recognizes a division that has made Indiana’s fire service training safer, more effective and more professional. From the nomination form: The Ohio Township Volunteer Fire Department Training Division, a 100 percent volunteer group of 11 members, was reshaped in 2014. Since, the team has successfully hosted numerous classes, and this year alone has completed over 6,227 hours of training for 76 members.
Dispatcher of the Year
Julie Kroger-Toby, St. Joseph County Public Safety Communications Consortium
The Dispatcher of the Year award recognizes either years of service or outstanding performance relating to a specific emergency event. From the nomination form: Attentiveness and quick thinking on Julie Kroger-Toby’s part helped protect residents during a sudden violent storm this June. Hearing about a change in weather from a nearby county, Kroger-Toby notified her supervisory chain, allowing St. Joseph County weather sirens to be activated. This action provided residents a roughly 15 minute warning they wouldn’t have otherwise received, and certainly saved many from potential serious injury or even death.
EMS for Children Award
Cynthia Brown, EMT, Harrison County Hospital EMS
The award recipients for the EMS for Children Award represent the best the industry has to offer in the field of EMS care for children, not only in proficiency, but also in professionalism. From the nomination form: As the car seat coordinator for their county, dedicated advocate for children Cynthia Brown has sponsored bicycle rodeos, farm safety courses, “how hot is the car” training sessions and many more events. In addition, Brown hosts a car seat clinic annually. It’s hard to identify just how many lives this superstar has saved.
Heroic Rescue of the Year
Cory Potts, Lieutenant, Clarksville Fire Department
To be considered, the candidate(s) must have demonstrated a degree of courage and bravery while showing an understanding of the seriousness of the situation. From the nomination form: Dispatched to a report of a boat that may have washed through the Ohio River flood control gates with multiple subjects in the river, Lt. Cory Potts noted a subject in the main channel of the river, trapped in exceptionally swift currents and rapids. Potts entered the water to take control of the situation while the rest of the Engine 71 team feverishly worked to clear debris, including large trees, from the boat ramp to allow deployment. Due to Potts’ quick entry into the water, he was able to retrieve the victim and stabilize the situation for extrication, minimizing any further loss of life.
David J. Edwards Memorial Award, Primary (EMS) Instructor of the Year
Eric Kraft, Captain, Clay Fire Territory (South Bend)
The candidates for this award must be certified by the EMS Commission as a primary instructor and be actively involved in public education and public service going beyond normal day-to-day responsibilities. From the nomination form: Capt. Eric Kraft is involved with multiple EMS programs in the greater South Bend area. The feedback received from Kraft’s students consistently praise his gentle approach and ability to simplify complex concepts contained within the curriculum. Kraft has begun teaching during the week-long Clay Fire Summer Youth Camp to children between the ages of 10 to 13, and has achieved a first-time pass rate for the National Registry cognitive examination at 93 percent – a figure well above the state and national standard.
Specialty Care Award
Kevin Speer, President and CEO, Hendricks Regional Health
New for 2019, this award is the culmination of how EMS is evolving in the State of Indiana. This category represents the advent of Community Paramedic Programs and Critical Care Transport throughout the State, and the ability of medical professionals to think outside of their traditional roles to take care of specific populations of patients/clients. From the nomination form: The Hendricks Regional Health Community Paramedicine Program is unlike any other in Indiana. The program pairs a specially-trained paramedic and social worker to provide non-emergent care to patients in their homes. In Hendricks County, approximately 50 percent of EMS calls are for non-emergency needs, equating to as much as $1.2 million annually in care and services delivered by EMS and emergency departments that could happen in lower-acuity settings. Community paramedicine staff will take a preventive approach with patients, giving them the support they need to help avoid health issues in the future. This hospital has pledged a five-year endowment of more than $2.5 million with the goal of connecting with 800 patients in its first year, making it one of Central Indiana’s only hospital-funded paramedicine programs.
EMT-Basic of the Year
Michael Dilly, EMT-B, Crawford County EMS
The award recipients for the EMT-Basic of the Year award represent the best the industry has to offer, not only in proficiency, but also in professionalism. From the nomination form: Michael Dilly is the embodiment of what an exemplary EMT should be. Only 21 years old, Dilly’s dedication to the profession, patients, coworkers and volunteer undertakings is proved through being employed with several agencies, including Orange County Dispatch. Colleagues describe him as strong, calm, capable and compassionate. Always willing to learn, Dilly has just successfully completed the Advanced EMT class and recently enrolled in the 2019 Paramedic Program.
Advanced EMT of the Year
Robert Swoboda, Advanced EMT, Delaware County EMS
The award recipients for the Advanced EMT of the Year award represent the best the industry has to offer, not only in proficiency, but also in professionalism. From the nomination form: Robert Swoboda’s career has spanned for almost 30 years, beginning at the age of 15, and has proved multiple times that he would put his life on the line for a patient. Swoboda’s caring presence is embraced by both young and old, and his calming effect positively impacted every patient encountered.
Paramedic of the Year
Abdullakh Abamislimov, Firefighter/Paramedic, Zionsville Fire Department
The award recipients for the Paramedic of the Year award represent the best the industry has to offer, not only in proficiency, but also in professionalism. From the nomination form: Nominated in his first year as a practicing paramedic, Abdullakh Abamislimov has displayed the calmness, confidence and quality of care of a seasoned clinician. On a traumatic injury call this year, Abasislimov managed a very difficult airway procedure with a surgical trach, IV, cardiac monitoring and quick clot to the wound, all in six minutes on scene. Abamislimov willingly reaches out to help peers and is a true ambassador for emergency medical care.
EMS Advanced Life Support Provider of the Year (Fire Department-based)
Fort Wayne Fire Department
The Provider of the Year should possess unique qualities that serve to elevate the standard of professionalism and the quality of patient care throughout the EMS industry. From the nomination form: Fort Wayne Fire Department became a state certified non-transport Advanced Life Support (ALS) service in January 2016. In the last three years, the department has gone from two ALS engines to 18, and as a result, their cardiac arrest survival rate has been as high at 10.8 percent. The department has announced the intention to have all future recruit classes certified as Advanced EMTs, and their next project includes a training lab.
EMS Advanced Life Support Provider of the Year (Non-Fire Department-based)
Three Rivers Ambulance Authority, Operations Division
The Provider of the Year should possess unique qualities that serve to elevate the standard of professionalism and the quality of patient care throughout the EMS industry. From the nomination form: The Three Rivers Ambulance Authority’s “File for Life” program encourages Fort Wayne residents to help EMS providers who respond to an emergency. On a “File for Life” information sheet, residents list name, emergency contacts, doctor's name, medical conditions, medications, allergies and insurance information. This quick-reference sheet is vital in helping EMS professionals understand medical history when a patient is alone or unable to communicate during an emergency.
EMS Basic Life Support Provider of the Year (Fire Department-based)
Evansville Fire Department, EMS Division
The Provider of the Year should possess unique qualities that serve to elevate the standard of professionalism and the quality of patient care throughout the EMS industry. From the nomination form: In a community of about 120,000 residents, Evansville Fire Department’s EMS run volume accounts for more than 60 percent of the overall runs. As a result, all members of the fire department have some emergency medical training, with 75 percent certified as either an EMT or paramedic. In addition to providing the one of best fire-based EMT classes for their employees, the department offers seats to other nearby agencies at no cost.
EMS Officer of the Year
Andrew Hall, Lieutenant, Putnam County Operation Life
This award represents the best the industry has to offer, not only in proficiency, but also in professionalism. From the nomination form: Andrew Hall recognized a trend in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and congestive heart failure (CHF) patient encounters, and changed the department’s equipment to provide more effective treatment. As a clinician and EMS professional, this officer is driven, passionate and has developed a clear goal identity of where they are now and where they would like to be in the future and that parallels the continued aspirations of their organization.
Firefighter of the Year
Mike Carr, Firefighter/Paramedic, Noblesville Fire Department
This award represents the best the industry has to offer, not only in proficiency, but also in professionalism. From the nomination form: Mike Carr is a tactical medic for the Noblesville Police Department. Carr has been instrumental in assessing the need for an active assailant response plan and has worked to develop, implement and train team members on the plan and the skills necessary. The passion, dedication and leadership prepared Noblesville Fire to be prepared on May 25, 2018, also known as the Noblesville West Middle School shooting.
Fire Officer of the Year
Nick Mager, Assistant Chief, Cedar Lake Fire Department
This award represents the best the industry has to offer, not only in proficiency, but also in professionalism. From the nomination form: Assistant Chief Nick Mager is a highly sought after resource regarding fire investigations in Lake County. Mager manages the operations of the Cedar Lake Fire Department to include training, fleet repairs, fire inspections and investigations, as well as completing several successful grants. Mager is highly respected in the region for professionalism, knowledge and dedication.
Co-medical Director of the Year
Stephanie Gardner, Hancock County EMS Medical Director, Hancock Regional Hospital
Under Dr. Stephanie Gardner’s guidance, patient outcomes in Hancock County have improved through the use of data-driven protocol changes. Furthermore, Gardner has acted as an instrument of change in establishing a progressive community based system to help provide CPR in public locations through Pulse Point, which has been shown to improve a patient’s chance of survival. Gardner handles time management at an extraordinary level, achieving these goals despite working full time as an ER physician at several locations, participating in Indiana Task Force 1 and taking part in many conferences as a speaker.
Co-medical Director of the Year
James Nossett, Medical Director, Hendricks Regional Health
Dr. James Nossett has served as Hendricks County medical director for over 20 years. Nossett’s vision is responsible for programs such as Rapid Sequence Airway (RSA), which allows credentialed paramedics to administer specialized airway medications to control difficult airways. Additionally, personnel participate in "Telestroke," a program that links a neurologist and the EMS crew together via secure network to evaluate suspected stroke patients. Through his infectious energy, education and experience Nossett has increased the knowledge, skills and abilities of Hendricks County EMS personnel and provided a higher quality of life for those living, working and visiting Hendricks County.
Fire Chief of the Year (Volunteer)
Chad Hanson, Fire Chief, Harrison Township Volunteer Fire Department (Monroe City)
Nominees for this award must be actively involved in fire organizations, fire prevention education, training and safety improvement. From the nomination form: Chief Chad Hanson joined the fire service just after high school graduation and has been the chief for the past 15 years. Hanson initiated, with the help of other members, implementation of structured training sessions to ensure the safety of all members. Additionally, through work with township trustees and successful grant applications, Hanson has replaced a significant amount of equipment and personal safety gear. Hanson gives extensive amounts of time to the community in which he lives and serves, and is respected by many for his dedication.
Co-fire Chief of the Year (Career)
James VanGorder, Fire Chief, Town of Zionsville
As fire chief for 23 years, Chief James VanGorder has an impressive list of accomplishments. He coordinated the creation of a safety committee, which has implemented a cancer awareness program, established fire gear isolation guidelines, issued each firefighter two sets of fire gear and installed vehicle exhaust systems to prevent exposure to exhaust fumes. VanGorder also established the Zionsville Fire Department as an Advanced Life Support (ALS) transport agency in 2007, created the first Zionsville Citizens Fire Academy in 2017 and in 2019 improved the communities rating with the Insurance Service Office.
Co-fire Chief of the Year (Career)
Greg Wyant, Chief, City of Noblesville
Chief Greg Wyant, after serving his country in the U.S. Navy, has served his community as a firefighter for 26 years. He has championed research of gas monitors within the Noblesville Fire Department, showing that although gas monitors may classify a building as “safe “ for overhaul and investigation, the scope of testing was too narrow and firefighters may still be exposed to carcinogens. Since, he has implemented a policy requiring self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) be worn throughout the entire incident, reducing the cancer risk for an entire generation of firefighters.