EMS Awards Ceremony

May 21, 2024

DRAPER — The Utah Department of Health and Human Services and Utah Department of Public Safety recognized emergency medical services professionals for heroic and lifesaving work, excellence in training, and support of the EMS discipline during our annual awards ceremony at the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium on May 21, 2024.

Award categories and citations

Outstanding Performance in an Emergency Medical Incident

North Tooele Fire Department, Mountain West Ambulance, Tooele County Sheriff’s 911 Communication Center, AirMed and Life Flight

On Nov. 6, 2023, the award recipients responded to a motor vehicle crash on Interstate 80. The crash involved 4 eastbound passenger vehicles, a tractor trailer and 5 patients in various locations and conditions across the roadway. Two patients were in critical condition, two in fair condition and one in good condition.

One patient, in particular, who was struck by the tractor trailer, cartwheeled through the air and impacted the cable barriers receiving facial trauma was extensive. Mountain West Ambulance personnel feverishly worked to maintain the patient’s airway. Blood and secretions threatened to occlude her airway at every level. The patient was conscious so they kept her in a seated position while she held the bones of her own jaw.

It was a difficult intubation but performed with precision by the flight crews and prepared for flight.

This incident highlights how agencies can work together during a tragic and chaotic event, quickly assess injuries and transport patients to save lives. This event also showcases the positive mental health benefits for first responders when they know the positive outcomes of a patient’s treatments and history. 

Outstanding Performance in a Rural Emergency Medical Incident

Grand County EMS, Moab Valley Fire Department, Moab City Police Department, Grand County Sheriff’s Office, Classic Air Medical, Canyonlands Airport Fire Department, and Moab Regional Hospital

On October 1, 2023, responders learned of an aircraft crash near the Canyonlands Regional Airport. A camper near the airport saw a plane take off and then, while circling the area, go towards the ground and did not return. The award recipients responded and were able to locate the aircraft using night vision capabilities to identify a faint single cabin light in the aircraft. This light guided the Classic crew into the aircraft, which had been invisible to ground crews and to the civilian fixed wing pilots attempting to help in the search.

Classic Air Medical deployed a flight nurse and paramedic to the scene and treated one juvenile male patient.

While performing an initial inspection of the aircraft, an EMT discovered another passenger trapped in the aircraft. Extrication efforts began immediately by Moab Valley Fire Department personnel while Grand County EMS personnel attempted to perform an initial assessment and located a pulse. Extrication was quickly completed, but pulses were lost during extrication and the second juvenile was rapidly removed to begin resuscitative efforts.

Moab Regional Hospital prepared to receive the incoming patients.

After identifying the pilot, investigators learned were additional passengers on board the aircraft. Classic and returned to the scene and began an aerial search, while Moab Police searched the ground.

Both patients were found and eventually declared deceased while at Moab Regional Hospital after extensive resuscitation efforts by both EMS and hospital staff.

This call was extremely difficult for many of the responders involved as it exposed many new firefighters, EMTs, and officers to the most traumatic scene of their careers thus far. We recognize the efforts of all of these selfless individuals with the outstanding performance in a rural emergency medical incident award.

Emergency Physician of the Year

Dr. Robert Grow, medical director for Ogden Fire and EMS

Dr. Grow is the medical director for Ogden Fire and EMS. He was instrumental in helping develop
response plans and safety guidelines during the pandemic. His guidance and expertise helped keep our community and our first responders safe.

Dr. Grow also took an interest in the revamping of the cardiac arrest program and helped Ogden Fire increase the prehospital return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) by over 15% and the discharge of patients with good to moderate cerebral perfusion by 8%. These are lives saved. This would not have happened without Dr. Grow’s dedication to EMS and his community.

In addition, Dr. Grow is also a member of the State EMS Committee.

He a truly exceptional emergency physician who consistently exemplifies the highest standards of patient care, professionalism, and leadership. The EMS agencies within Weber County are grateful for Dr. Grow, his proactive approach to emergency medicine and his steadfast willingness to support EMS in his

Paramedic of the Year

Aubrey Freiberg, Intermountain Life Flight

Aubrey was a new employee of Intermountain Life Flight with less than one year as a flight paramedic when the above-mentioned multi-vehicle crash occurred. On the evening of Nov. 6, 2023, Life Flight was dispatched to the scene east of Dugway to assist local medical crews on a semi vs. automobile accident. Bystanders stated the patient and her father had witnessed an accident, at which point they pulled over and got out of their vehicle to provide assistance. As the patient approached the accident site, a semi truck struck the vehicle involved in the initial accident then struck the patient. Bystanders stated the patient was thrown an estimated 50 feet.

When Life Flight arrived, the patient, Heather Williams, from Iowa, was in the back of an ambulance being attended to by a local EMS crew. Her life-threatening injury was very apparent, with a large, deep full thickness open laceration across the left temple, ending above her right jaw. Because the injury was very graphic and horrific in nature, the flight crew recognized not only the trauma to Williams but to everyone who was involved in her care. Knowing that this patient needed a definitive airway, Aubrey and her partner remained incredibly calm and came up with a plan intubate the patient for transport. Without any additional landmarks to intubate, Aubrey remained calm, focused, and stoic and successfully intubated the patient through the open wound, since the oral pharynx was obliterated by the injury. The patient was loaded into the helicopter and transported to the closest trauma one facility for surgery. Both trauma surgeons who cared for this patient commented that this was one of the most impressive field intubations that they have witnessed and believed that this procedure was not only impressive in nature but ultimately saved this patient’s life. Williams, who still has a long road to recovery, has since undergone several surgeries and repairs and is returning to an active normalcy of a productive lifestyle.

Aubrey embodies the attributes and character traits and captures the true essence of what it means to be a Paramedic. She is a highly skilled and compassionate caregiver; she is a true advocate for her patients and brings calm and purpose to otherwise stressful and chaotic situations. Aubrey remains extremely humble and solicits input and assistance from personnel of other agencies while creating a team dynamic for best patient outcomes.

Advanced Emergency Medical Technician of the Year

Van Mund, Chief, Willard Volunteer Fire Department

Chief Mund has been an AEMT/Firefighter for 33 years for the Willard Volunteer Fire Department, the last nineteen of which he has been Chief. He has also served as training captain and Assistant Chief. It is noteworthy to mention that Van has a full-time job outside of the fire service to support his family. The time he has spent on the Fire Department along with all the countless hours of training was done on his own time.

Van puts his heart and soul in every call, whether it is a life-threatening ALS call or a simple citizen assist. He quietly and efficiently does his job with little or no fanfare. Van has the integrity, compassion and willingness to teach and mentor. Van is a very knowledgeable and skilled AEMT/Firefighter. He continues to learn and train on a regular basis. He takes the time to do “after incident reviews” with his team after every call. He strives continually to excel in his craft and also strives to help the members of his department become more competent and confident EMTs. He constantly looks for ways to improve himself and the Willard Fire Dept. He works hard at keeping mediocrity out of his department and won’t hesitate to call it out. Van is a problem solver with a great work ethic.

Van is a naturally happy person. He always has a smile on his face, and stays positive even in the face of adversity. He has compassion for everyone he comes in contact with. Sometimes others get short with the frequent flyers or the 2 am calls, but he doesn’t. Van genuinely cares and feels that he should be there when people are in need. Van never gets angry or put out on scene or at the station. He treats everyone with respect and dignity.

Van takes pride in teaching others to become better EMTs. It is people like him that make the Willard Fire Dept. a great place to work. When working with patients, or those from other mutual aid departments, he exudes calmness, patience and professionalism.

The citizens of Willard appreciate Van and his team of selfless professionals as they are willing to go above and beyond to help them in their time of need. He is a true professional and a great leader. Van has helped so many become better AEMTs and a better person because of his integrity, his patience in teaching, and his compassion for those whom he serves.

Emergency Medical Technician of the Year

Sam Folauhola, West Valley City Fire Department

Will the family of Sam Folauhola, who is not able to attend, come forward. They will be accepting his award. (Family members are, Lori; Sione and Julia)

Mr. Sam Folauhola exemplifies exceptional dedication and inspiration within the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) community. Sam consistently demonstrates unwavering commitment to his duties, consistently placing the welfare of others above his own. His profound impact is felt through his relentless pursuit of diversity and dedication, coupled with his innate ability to adapt to dynamic and challenging situations.

Sam’s contributions extend beyond the realm of emergency response, as he invests significant time in mentoring and ensuring the continuous elevation of EMS standards. His capacity to effectively communicate across various disciplines fosters a collaborative environment, enriching the experiences of both patients and colleagues alike.

Operating within the demanding landscapes of the Emergency Department and Emergency Medical Services demands resilience and adaptability, qualities that Sam embodies with exceptional poise. His remarkable interventions during crisis situations, such as the recent incident involving a tragic accident, underscore his unparalleled bravery and unwavering commitment to the welfare of those in need.

Sam’s exemplary traits encompass integrity, responsibility, persistence, and a harmonious balance of leadership and teamwork. His dedication to professional development is evident, and it is with certainty that his journey towards becoming an exceptional provider will continue to flourish.

On January 14th, 2024, a commendation was received from a battalion chief at West Valley Fire, highlighting Sam’s heroic actions at the scene of a distressing accident involving a drunk driver. Amidst the chaos, Sam’s swift response and compassionate care facilitated the extrication of a 5-year-old child from the wreckage, ultimately extending the family another precious month with their loved one.

His actions serve hope and resilience and exemplify the very essence of the EMS profession.

It is with great honor that we recognize Mr. Sam Folauhola for his remarkable contributions and unwavering commitment to serving others with the Emergency Medical Technician of the Year award.

Emergency Medical Dispatcher of the Year

Paige Galinda, Tooele County Sheriff’s Office

Paige Galinda is not able to be here today, so Regina Neilson is here to accept her award. Regina, will you please come and join me?

Emergency medical dispatch plays a vital role in emergency medical services. Dispatchers have unique knowledge and must be able to quickly gather critical scene information.

On December 18, 2023, Paige Galindo took a 911 call for an unresponsive male in Rush Valley. The caller stated that her son was trying to do CPR on his father. Paige immediately opened the cardiac arrest sequence using PROQA and instructed the caller how to do CPR effectively. Within 5 minutes of the CPR instruction Paige provided, the patient regained consciousness. It took another 8 minutes for first responders to arrive on scene to assess the patient. without Paige’s quick action and accurate instructions the outcome of the call for service could have been critical. This is just one call in so many that shows her dedication and caring nature. Paige consistently completes monthly training, and maintains a highly compliant status with her medical quality checks. Paige is a wonderful asset to all the citizens of Tooele County.
It is an honor and privilege that we present Paige with the emergency medical dispatcher of the year award.

EMS for Children Advocate of the Year

Jeffrey Wilson

It is with great pleasure to recognize Jeffrey Wilson as the EMS for Children’s advocate of the year. Jeffrey’s unwavering commitment to enhancing
emergency medical services through specialized training and resources for pediatric patients with autism are truly commendable, as evidenced by his establishment and implementation of the John Wilson Autism Awareness Program.
Inspired by his own personal journey as a parent of a child with autism, Jeffrey’s
commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of children on the autism spectrum is unparalleled. The John Wilson Autism Awareness Program, named after his son, stands as a testament to Jeffrey’s profound love and determination to make a difference in the lives of individuals with autism.

During his inaugural year, Jeffery conducted outreach to 34 EMS agencies, delivering comprehensive training sessions focused on pediatric autism awareness and assessment. Additionally, he facilitated the distribution of 334 sensory kits to equip our EMS agencies with essential assessment tools.

Through Jeffrey’s efforts, our state’s pediatric patients with ASD have been positively impacted. His dedication to raising awareness and standardizing ASD training has resulted in improved outcomes for children with autism during emergency situations. By fostering empathy and understanding among emergency responders, Jeffrey has created a safer and more inclusive environment for children with autism to receive the care they deserve.

For his dedication and perseverance, we recognize Jeffrey Wilson with the EMSC advocate of the year award.

EMS Instructor of the Year

Tom McKay, Salt Lake City Fire Department

Tom Mckay has been an EMT, fire fighter, and paramedic since approximately 1988. He has been a firefighter paramedic for SLCFD for 24 years. Tom has been an instructor for the EMS division his entire career and has spent 8 years in the Medical Division as the lead instructor and course coordinator for all required re-certifications. Tom has spent an innumerable amount of hours teaching and instructing over his EMS career. This past year, Tom has re-certified all members of Salt Lake City Fire Dept. with the Handtevy Pediatric recertification. Tom assisted over half of the Salt Lake City Fire Dept. EMTs and Paramedics with their state and national recertification process and AHA CPR renewal. Anyone who ever taught a class, been the course coordinator and worked at the same time knows how challenging and time consuming this can be. Tom has put together all the training materials, organized the classes, and followed up to make sure all have received their certifications. SLCFD responds to nearly 26,000 medical calls annually and Tom’s selfless desire to improve the EMS capabilities means the citizens of SLC are in good hands when 911 is needed.

Tom’s exemplary professionalism and strong commitment to the success and advancement of emergency medical students will be a major benefit to EMS statewide.

Tom exemplifies what an EMS instructor and professional should be. We are honored to present Tom with the EMS instructor of the year award.

Training Officer of the Year

Charlotte Rogers, Mountain West Ambulance

Charlotte has been employed with Mountain West Ambulance since February of 2019 first starting as an Advanced EMT, then completing her Paramedic education and licensure in April of 2020.
During her time as a front-line employee, she exemplified tremendous qualities and traits consistent with company goals including safety, quality of services provided, and continued self and professional improvement.
In February of 2022, she was promoted to the crucial role of Agency Training Officer. Since that time she identified numerous areas for improvement, including community engagement and outreach, opportunities and outreach for future employees, training and standards for current employees, medical and departmental standard operating procedures, quality assurance and ongoing quality improvement processes, and many others to better serve our community.
While fulfilling her role as the agency Training Officer, she routinely is able to provide front line patient care as a Paramedic. This allows her to maintain and continue to improve her patient skills, patient bedside manner, as well as work side by side with her Paramedics and AEMTs she is responsible for training.

Charlotte is currently the project lead for a multi-interagency Opioid Crisis Response and care network within her community. This serves as a fundamental basis for the objective of her medical director, which is to enhance the existing services rendered by her agency to the community, uphold and enhance safety and quality indicators, and introduce uncommon EMS services not found extensively in Utah, including community paramedicine.

Through her development of a robust quality assurance and continual process improvement training program, alongside her role as a catalyst for positive workplace culture, Ms. Rogers stands as an exemplary figure within the EMS profession. Her effectiveness across various roles and responsibilities is unmatched, demonstrating excellence at every turn. Consistently advocating for perpetual improvement, she supports staff with training, guidance, and resources necessary for growth. As a dynamic and effective leader, Ms. Rogers has proven indispensable, not only to the employees but also to the broader community.

Charlotte embodies the highest standards of excellence and dedication in her service as a Paramedic and as an Agency Training Officer. Her multifaceted contributions, ranging from frontline patient care to leading community­ wide initiatives, have significantly enhanced the quality of emergency medical services within the State of Utah. Charlotte’s unwavering commitment to professional development, community engagement, and innovative EMS practices not only exemplifies the values of her company but also sets a benchmark for excellence in the field.

For her dedication, expertise, and genuine passion for enhancing the well­ being of others, we are honored to present Charlotte Rogers with the training officer of the year award.

Distinguished Service Award

Cory Oaks, EMS Coordinator, Box Elder County Fire Department

Cory has been actively involved in the fire service in the state of Utah for 36 years, with 33 of it in EMS. He started his career as a wildland firefighter out of high school and completed his Basic EMT in June of 1991. After obtaining his certification, he became a firefighter and first responder with the Wellington City Volunteer Fire Department where he served until 1997.
During that time, he completed an Associates Degree from both the College Eastern Utah in General Education and Utah Valley State College in Fire Science. He became a firefighter/EMT with the Provo City Fire Department in 1997 and attended paramedic school at Weber State University in 1999. He mentored many junior paramedic partners as well as paramedic students, was a member of and training officer for the Provo City Police and Fire Mountain Rescue Team. When he was promoted to Captain in 2006, he was assigned a role as one of the training captains of the Utah Valley Metro Special Response Team, a joint venture between Provo, Orem, Lehi and Pleasant Grove along with the other agencies in the county.
He began his flight career in 2004 with Intermountain Life Flight, made the transition to Classic Air Medical as the Outreach Coordinator, where he put his skills and talents as an instructor in BLS, ACLS, PALS, PEPP and PHTLS to use across the west and finally to his latest position as the Program Director for Haiti Air Ambulance, a nonprofit and the only provider serving the country of Haiti.
He has been involved in the EMS for Children Program since 2006 and his passion for education reaches from involvement with the UAEMT conferences to nationwide presentation at the Association of Air Medical Services Air Medical Transport Conference, the Critical Care Transport Medicine Conference, The ZOLL Summit, EMS Expo, along with countless local and state conferences.
He has served on multiple committees within the Office of EMS such as the pediatric guideline committee, Air Medical Committee, Professional Development Committee and recently the Chair of the Critical Care Paramedic Ground Transport Task Force. In 2017 he helped organize and chair the Utah Chapter of the Association of Air Medical Services where he organized quarterly training for all air medical personnel in Utah from all agencies.
After his retirement in 2017 he joined the Fielding volunteer fire department where he still serves as the training officer as well with the Central Box Elder Fire District. He is currently the EMS Coordinator for Box Elder County Fire overseeing the EMS services in Park Valley and Grouse Creek. His latest project in the county is organizing and serving as the chair of the Box Elder Air Medical Committee which has been tasked with creating a guideline for air medical response within the county utilizing the closest aircraft to improve patient care.
In recognition of his remarkable work, we are proud to present Cory Oaks with this EMS distinguished service award.

Friend of EMS Award

Sen. Derrin Owens, Utah Senate

Senator Owens has consistently demonstrated outstanding support for our state’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) community throughout his tenure in the state legislature. Beginning as a Utah House Member and continuing as a Utah Senator, Senator Owens has shown his commitment and dedication to the EMS Community.
Legislative Advocacy: Representative, now Senator, Owens sponsored or co-sponsored many pieces of critical legislation regarding EMS in the state of Utah. Senator Owens has continuously worked to educate other legislators on the challenges faced in rural EMS across the state. Senator Owens was instrumental in returning the Rural Liaisons to the field as well as returning critically needed funding to the Rural EMS Grant Fund.
Community Engagement: If there is an EMS issue in the State of Utah you can be assured that Senator Owens will be involved in the solution. Senator Owens has become the go to legislator regarding EMS in the state. Senator Owens is regularly involved in meetings, summits and events regarding EMS issues.
Understanding of EMS Issues: Being a rural Senator, Senato Owens’ grasp of the challenges faced by EMS professionals in Utah is unparalleled. Senator Owens is seen by his colleagues as the EMS expert in the Senate. Senator Owens is one of the few who understands the complexities of rural EMS, and the challenges faced as rural counties and communities try to provide for citizens and visitors.
Senator Owens’ dedication to Utah’s EMS system extends beyond policy. His genuine appreciation for the lifesaving work of EMS professionals is evident in his interactions with providers and his public statements on the subject.
For his unwavering commitment to improving EMS services in Utah, we are honored to present Senator Derrin Owens with the friend of EMS award.

Training Officer of the Year

Charlotte Rogers, Mountain West Ambulance

Charlotte has been employed

Training Officer of the Year

Charlotte Rogers, Mountain West Ambulance

Charlotte has been employed