2022 Colorado State EMS Awards

Presented by EMSAC, CDPHE-Health Facilities & Emergency Medical Services Division and The Children’s Hospital

BLS EMS Professional of the Year
Amanda Hartman, Hinsdale County EMS
Region 3/Mile High RETAC

Amanda Hartman has been a volunteer for Hinsdale County EMS— a small, rural volunteer agency providing high-quality prehospital care in the shadows of the San Juan Mountains—since 2018. Soon after becoming an EMT, Amanda was thrown headfirst into critical calls with very little clinical experience. She gracefully greeted the challenge and quickly became a steadfast EMT with dependable critical thinking skills who is a spreader of calm in the chaos.

Her skills and bedside manner are exceptional but what is even more remarkable is her compassion and ability to look beyond the single patient view into the periphery of the situation. She reminds her teammates to see the webs of connection inside lives of people we have the privilege to care for. The mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and friends of patients. The pets, homes, vehicles and sidewalks covered in snow. The important things that can easily get lost in the emergency.

Amanda can sit down with a patient and have a firm conversation filled with difficult questions while exposing an arm and starting an IV. She can also hold a bloody hand, look a patient in the eyes and coach them to calm down. She can pick up a crying baby and somehow get them to allow her to do a full assessment, all the while keeping the mother closely involved.

She cares for her large family and friends, while running a business and somehow finds the time to run EMS calls with consistency. She managed to successfully complete CPR instructor training last fall and AEMT training over the winter months. Amanda has designed a backcountry safety and emergency care module which she teaches during community CPR and Stop the Bleed classes. She often deploys as medical personnel on our county’s Search and Rescue Hasty Team.

During the busy summer season in Lake City and Hinsdale County, Amanda regularly participates in EMS calls and transports (to the nearest hospital in Gunnison, 60 miles away). She is always one of the first to arrive at the ambulance barn, ready to participate and assist in any way.

Amanda is respected and loved by all her teammates. She serves as a mentor to new members of the team and takes it upon herself to follow up after major incidents to ensure everyone is digesting the trauma. She is a natural at seeing the need to preserve resiliency as a team and community. Everyone who gets the opportunity to work with Amanda will tell you how amazing she is.

Hinsdale County Administrator Sandy Hines says of Amanda, “Each of the volunteers that work in the Hinsdale County EMS system are award worthy, but I would like to particularly discuss the efforts of Amanda Hartman. Amanda has been an EMT since 2018 and in addition to the duties that come along with two family-owned businesses and raising three children, Amanda gives endless volunteer hours to the county’s EMS system. But her participation frequently goes over and above, as an advocate of her team members and her community. Amanda follows up with team members involved in difficult situations, takes time to make sure family and friends of patients have what they need, leaves treats and notes of encouragement for team members to find after calls, organizes EMS participation in the July 4 parade, coordinates EMS coverage at the school basketball games and keeps a jump kit at her work just in case (and often cleans and bandages cuts for children playing in the nearby town park). As an avid member of the EMS team, Amanda has taken extra classes to expand her certification. She spent the winter traveling to Gunnison to complete her Advanced EMT training. In addition, she has become a CPR instructor and assists in our community’s CPR program. Amanda’s commitment to the care of our community is tremendous and she is a stellar asset to Hinsdale County’s EMS program.”

Dr. Gerald Gordon EMS Instructor of the Year
Captain Jenn Oese, Summit Fire & EMS
Region 5/Central Mountains RETAC

For more than 25 years, Captain Jenn Oese has been a stalwart champion of EMS excellence in Summit County. As a former paramedic, EMS Supervisor, Field Training Officer and Clinical Practice Manager of Summit County Ambulance Service, Jenn has contributed tirelessly to building the CQI and EMS Training programs up to what they are today. Now, as a member of the High Country Training Center staff, she continues to hold a high standard of patient care for both Summit Fire & EMS Fire and Red, White and Blue and Protection Districts. Adapting to our modern fire-based 911 response system from the former County enterprise funded Ambulance agency has brought many challenges and Capt. Oese continues to rise to the challenge by raising the bar for all of our local EMS providers and is most deserving of this award in recognition of her achievements. — Jamie Woodworth

Clark Samuel Smith MD, Medical Director of Summit Fire & EMS and Red, White & Blue Fire, has high praise for Jenn. “Since 2020, I have worked very closely with Capt. Oese in her role as EMS Training Captain at the High Country Training Center in Frisco. Simply put, the quality of prehospital care provided to the citizens of and visitors to Summit County would not be what it is without Capt. Oese. She is instrumental to our QA/QI process, collating and analyzing data including medication administration, procedures, airway management, cardiac arrest performance & outcomes and many other facets of care. She then presents this data to agency leadership and Medical Direction in an easily interpretable visual format, allowing us to identify patterns & trends and plan appropriate training initiatives.

She is a leader in patient-centered care for our agencies. She has championed a program to ensure we are providing adequate and appropriate analgesia for our patients, with particular focus on alternative administration routes for pediatric patients and the adoption of a multi-modal analgesia approach to pain management.”

Robert Marlin ALS EMS Professional of the Year
Chris Kaczmar and Janee Karle
Ute Pass Regional Health Service District

On September 30°, 2021. Chris and Janee were dispatched on a call for active labor with complications. Upon the team’s arrival, they found a newborn baby in full cardiac arrest. The crew worked quickly to obtain information and the team started high-quality chest compression, ventilated the patient and established an intraosseous access line for medications. The cardiac monitor showed the patient was in a non-viable rhythm.

They knew their roles and executed without hesitation. There was no yelling and everyone supported each other in the very difficult and stressful minutes that followed. They communicated with each other and with the family making sure that everyone was aware of the situation and what was being done to support their newborn child. As the minutes ticked by the team followed their training and leaned on one another to make sure this young life dangling so perilously close to death received the full measure of treatments available. The team quickly discussed the reversible causes and identified the contributing factors to this young child’s catastrophic condition. It was quickly noted that the infant was not ventilating well with a bag valve mask and when an iGel was properly placed there was no ventilatory improvement. Without delay, an endotracheal tube was placed and provided much-needed ventilatory support. Just as it seemed there was no chance for this young life, everything changed. Nearly 20 minutes after CPR was started the cardiac monitor suddenly showed a rhythm that was compatible with life and the providers felt a pulse where minutes before nothing could be found. But the team did not stop there. They prepared the patient for emergent transport while ensuring this young life was stabilized and bundled up enough to survive the harsh outside environment.

Just a few minutes after there was a return of spontaneous circulation the crew checked a blood sugar and finding it to be low they administered dextrose to prevent another cardiac arrest event.
The American Heart Association reports that only 2% - 6% of out-of-hospital pediatric cardiac arrest patient have a return of spontaneous circulation and only 1% — 4% survive neurologically intact at the time of discharge from the hospital. Everything must go right for even the smallest chance of survival. This is even truer in small, isolated communities like Green Mountain Falls.

On this day everything went right and the crew executed as a well-orchestrated team. Had they not done so there is no doubt that this child would not have survived.

EMS Ambulance Service of the Year
Platte Valley Ambulance Service, Brighton
Region 3/Mile High RETAC

To find a solution to address a local funeral home ambulance that was going out of service, The City of Brighton and the Brighton Community Hospital formed a citizen committee that would ultimately create Platte Valley Ambulance Service in May of 1972.

PVAS would operate as an all-volunteer BLS ambulance squad throughout the 70s. In 1992, PVAS became a hospital based-ambulance service. This transition also marked the end of a 20 year era of volunteerism. The dedicated community volunteers were decommissioned and all career staff became employees of PVMC.

In January of 2022, after years of success with our unique partnership with our FPD neighbors, PVAS purchased the ambulances and capital equipment from SE Weld and entered into a service contract in which PVAS would manage the ambulance service for SE Weld and provide the staff, equipment and vehicles for the system. This also included a separate service contract with the Hudson Fire District in which we would cover the entirety of their district, to providing primary ambulance In June of 2022, we started include the towns of Lochbuie, Hudson and coverage to the South Adams Fire unincorporated portions of Weld County. We Protection District. We started moved our ambulance from Lochbuie to Hudson service with two ALS ambulances to better cover both communities and have expanded to 4 ALS ambulance teams. PVAS just placed the fifth ambulance team into service on September 25.
Deputy Chief Bobby Noel, South Adams County Fire Department, said, “We have worked with Platte Valley as a mutual aid ambulance service for many years. We have always been very happy with their level of service and the quality of their personnel, vehicles and equipment. In recent months, we’ve had the pleasure of working with them as our primary ambulance service. It is easy to see that in addition to celebrating their 50th anniversary, they have had a banner year with service area expansion and having to hire and train many new employees. They’ve also had to add vehicles and equipment to accommodate this expanded geography. It is impressive that they have managed to do this on short notice and without compromising their high expectations and standards. We are consistently impressed with their philosophy and how they take care of their patients.”

Platte Valley Ambulance Service refers to all of its teammates as “Medics” regardless of their level of certification. The basic definition of a “medic” is simply a medical aid person. That mindset guides PVAS in daily operations. “We are here to render aid to others, keep people warm, protect their dignity, safeguard their privacy, make them feel safe, take away their pain or discomfort, bring them peace. All of us operate on a core set a values that were created by members of our team 20 years prior and are still in place today.”

PVAS has worked hard to create an environment where caregivers know that they have permission to care about people. Where it is okay to take the time to identify needs and to advocate for their patients and loved ones. “We realize that the work we do does not occur in a vacuum. We operate as part of chain of survival. Our dispatchers, law enforcement officers, firefighters and hospital professionals are a huge part of our EMS system. We share our success with these agencies.”

EMS Executive of the Year
Robert Weisbaum, EMS and Fire Chief
Crested Butte Fire Protection District

Through his leadership, Rob Weisbaum has moved the Crested Butte Fire Protection District from an almost entirely volunteer organization to a high-performing combination department that provides exceptional EMS and fire protection to the community. In particular, Chief Weisbaum has hired some of the best and brightest clinicians to serve our community and he further ensures that we operate up to the critical care transport level when required. At the same time, he has also continued to support our outstanding group of volunteer EMTs. He has proven that he cares deeply about excellent service for the community, he has been willing to make difficult decisions to help move the organization forward and he has developed and continues to lead a great team!

Rob also works very closely with CBFPD’s neighboring services and currently serves as the chairman of the Western Colorado RETAC. In terms of personal development, Rob has earned his Managing Paramedic Officer certification through the American College of Paramedic Executive, has completed the SafeTech EMS Leadership Academy and is nearing completion of his bachelor’s degree through Columbia Southern University.

Western RETAC Director Danny Barela offers, “Rob’s role in the WRETAC and his willingness to collaborate with others has made the CB Fire District a true resource for our entire region. Chief Weisbaum has been with the Fire District for many, many years and grown within the department. He has taken on all the tasks needed from teaching new EMTs to guiding the development of his Captains and other officers so that the Department has grown with him.

His leadership in creating roles and responsibilities has transformed a formally disorganized volunteer organization into an efficient and professional mixed department that is well equipped and fully integrated into the community. His participation with local law enforcement in Tactical response, his continuing excellence in personally providing critical care, his commitment to EMS education and his fostering of relationships with SAR, guides and outfitters and the ski patrol and the mountain clinic are all evidence of his supreme dedication to improved care for the community.”

Community Paramedic of the Year
Lt. Ryan Brown, Ute Pass Regional Health Services District
Region 4/Plains to Peaks RETAC

In a year where everyone in EMS has gone above and beyond, Lt. Ryan Brown has set himself apart. Ryan has stepped up as a leader and as an EMS professional, putting his community and his team’s needs first. As the COVID-19 Delta variant took hold across the country in November of 2020, Ryan Brown jumped into action by administering Monoclonal Antibodies Treatment to more than 71 patients in just a few short months. This action required Lt. Brown to stay in his PAPR and other PPE for more than twelve hours every day. He would start several hours early each day and still be going strong well into the night. On several occasions, Ryan treated both husbands and wives simultaneously.

Patients selected for the administration of Monoclonal Antibodies are at the highest risk of developing acute illness and even death. None of the patients treated by Ryan required hospitalization and every single one made a full recovery. Many of these patients directly attributed Ryan’s timely care to their very survival.

In addition to providing top-quality patient care, Ryan developed innovative strategies that increased infusion efficiency while increasing provider and patient safety. Ryan created the “TAG” system that allowed providers to see twice the number of patients in the same time frame. He not only treated a large number of COVID patients with the telehealth program, but he also developed a program that ensured the patients received good follow-up care. Ryan also identified several patients that did not have primary care and increased their access to care by getting them aligned with primary care.

Lt. Brown’s leadership, compassion and care for his community were on full display through the COVID pandemic and is a shining example of the care provided across the state by our Community Paramedics and, in fact, all providers. Ryan also took time to ensure his fellow providers were doing OK and had everything they needed to do their work. He would often stay late at the end of his shifts to ensure the oncoming crews understood the latest changes that had taken place and to make sure they were doing OK with all the additional workload thrust upon them.

One patient said that Ryan had an excellent bedside manner and she felt better just from his presence and nature alone. On more than one occasion, Ute Pass Regional Health Services District has had patients and family members thank us for having Lt. Brown as part of our team. Telehealth physician advisors have said that Ryan brown is a “smart provider” and goes above and beyond daily. Community partners such as Teller County Public Health and Diversus Health have told UPRHSD’s leadership that Ryan is easy to work with and always strives to be the best possible patient advocate.

No call better demonstrates Ryan’s ability to care for those in need better than the telehealth HOME call he ran on January 20th, 2022. This was 1 of 5 calls for service he ran that day. The patient was an 85-year-old male undergoing cancer treatment. The patient was at very high risk for developing severe COVID disease. Both the patient and his wife were very concerned. Ryan quickly responded to their home and took the time to explain the process and address all of their concerns. The patient said it was one of the best healthcare experiences he has ever had. The patient’s wife said that she would have lost her best friend if it was not for Ryan that day.

Dr. Valentin E. Wohlauer Award for Physician Excellence in EMS
Dr. Diana Koelliker, Telluride Fire/EMS medical director
Region 10/Western RETAC

Dr. William L. Hall II submitted this accolade, “Dr. Koelliker has been a stalwart of EMS oversight in many ways over the last 16 years serving as medical director of the Telluride EMS service. In addition to her duties as medical director where she reviews every chart, teaches constantly and works tirelessly to improve the care provided by the service, she has also served in many other capacities. Her service to the EMPAC for 8 years helped shape the care provided in all of Colorado and her involvement with the Western RETAC has helped shape care in our region. Her ability to bridge the rural-urban gaps for care has improved service to everyone.”

Brad Blackwell, Telluride EMS Division Chief, says, “I am privileged to witness her work firsthand. What Dr. Koelliker she has done for our agency and community is immeasurable. She continues to review reports, hold monthly QA/QI, answer the phone at all hours, run the Telluride Regional Medical Center ED and support all of our EMS professionals. She has done so much for local, rural and state level EMS as a member of EMPAC. The Telluride community, western RETAC and the state of Colorado have all benefited greatly from her service to emergency medicine both in the prehospital setting and the emergency department. I could not think a physician more deserving of this award and it is about time she received some recognition for all she does.”

Children’s Hospital Colorado Award for Commitment to Pediatric Emergency Care
Cameron Duran, Platteville-Gilcrest Fire Protection District
Region 1/NE RETAC

Cameron Duran has a long and storied history of providing exceptional care to patients throughout the region. Over the years Cam, as he’s known to friends, has held roles as a paramedic team leader at Pridemark Paramedics, flight paramedic for Med Evac and his current role as a paramedic for Platteville-Gilcrest Fire Protection District. During his career he has had numerous opportunities to serve our smallest patients, yet he has constantly sought out new opportunities to improve regional pediatric care.
In just the last few years, Cam has developed a close partnership with the EMS for Children Program and its manager, Nicolena Mitchell. He has volunteered to bring his expertise to numerous pediatric care steering groups. In particular, the Mobile Pediatric Simulation Lab, the Colorado Pediatric Preparedness for the ER and Colorado Pediatric Emergency Care Coordination programs offered by the Colorado EMSC State Partnership Program have been outstanding resources that bring training and pediatric readiness resources around the state.

If you’ve only met Cam once, you know his easy smile and kindhearted laugh. He’s an admirable example of what a professional paramedic should be and brings the concept of family centered care to everything he touches.

It has been an honor to work closely with Cameron Duran over the years and there is no one more deserving of this award. — Jason Kotas, EMS Manager, Children’s Hospital Colorado

Francis Mildred Roth Women in EMS Award
Jill Adams, Gunnison Valley Health EMS
Region 10/Western RETAC

It is simply impossible to explain in using just words how much Jill has made an impact on the EMS system in Colorado, especially women in EMS. I was fortunate to meet Jill when she chose to hire me as a green EMT 7 years ago. Since then Jill has been a mentor, teacher, friend, leader and co-worker. Jill Adams is truly a master of her craft.

She has been an inspiration for how far you can rise in a system that is not only majority male but in a career that has a very high burnout rate regardless of what gender you are.

Jill Adams started her career as a paramedic for Denver General 30+ years ago. She has been holding her own with strength and grace sense the late 80s early 90s. Think about what that means and how much change has happened within the EMS system. How much GROWTH that has happened within the EMS systems and prehospital medicine. Jill has always brought the most current practices to the table and continued to teach those practices to the up and coming workforce. She is the embodiment of Mamma Bear. Affectionate, protective, devoted and strict when she needs to be. She fights for her own. Jill is the longest standing employee within Gunnison Valley Health Emergency Services; as a paramedic of 35 years, she has experienced a period of tremendous growth in pre-hospital medicine and has helped pioneer many advancements in our own organization. On top of all this, she has been able to build a commendable career while raising her two daughters as a single mother.

In a period where we are bombarded with reports of mental exhaustion and career burnout, it is because of women like Jill that not only lead by example but have help build organization’s that remain resilient to the evolution of our industry.

The community of Gunnison County has been lucky to receive her care, education and contribution throughout the past 15 to 20 years. Jill is a role model through her grace and knowledge and her impact is monumental.

Dr. Robert Campbell Award for Distinguished and Meritorious Service
Lynn Garst, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Office of Emergency Preparedness & Response
Region 3/Mile High RETAC

“Since the day that I met Lynn seven years ago, he has continued to show up time and time again for the Colorado EMS community,” declared Nicolena Mitchell, Colorado’s EMS for Children Program Manager. “He could have completed his work obligations with the Office of Emergency Preparedness & Response and the responder resiliency work and felt good about the work completed. Lynn however, continued his work by engaging responders, sitting down over countless cups of coffee (and sometimes beer) listening to our stories, attending countless meetings, identifying our needs, spreading the resiliency work and engaging the community. He created tools specific to the EMS community and worked to assure that they will be in place after his retirement.

He has traveled across county to speak on his work to EMS leaders, stood at funerals alongside us on the windy eastern Colorado Plains for a fallen paramedic, he embraced our quirky culture that few understood and he worked to find solutions that met the EMS community’s needs. Lynn has taken the time and effort to mentor; to nudge individuals the next steps in their career. He has celebrated and mourned with us.

He has become a part of our community and in the past seven years, never stopped working to engage EMS and find solutions to our unique challenges. In this, his last year of work before retirement, we would like to acknowledge Lynn’s contribution to the Colorado EMS community.”
Ezekiel Peters, Esq., NRP, Affiliate Faculty at MSU-Denver added, “Lynn is also CDPHE OEPR’s pediatric disaster coordinator and has an extensive background in pediatric behavioral health. During the Combined EMS Planning and Preparedness Meeting (covering the Colorado NCR, Denver UASI, Mile High and Foothills RETACs, Denver Metro EMS Medical Directors group meetings, he observed that effective pediatric response was a recurring, stressful topic among the assembled EMS practitioners and chiefs.

Knowing the emerging literature around the cycle of stress, loss of confidence and procedural failure by EMS practitioners treating pediatric patients, Lynn proposed and—with extensive community consultation—created the Pediatric Emotional Distress Reference System toolkit, color-keyed to and designed to be used in conjunction with EMS pediatric (physical) care systems like Broselow and Handtevy. This creative intervention to simultaneously improve the health and wellbeing of EMS practitioners and their pediatric patients has been widely adopted both inside and outside Colorado and is representative of the true depth and breadth of Lynn’s service to EMS professionals, practice and community.

Second, drawing from Combined EMS Meeting discussions of COVID-19 workforce impacts, Lynn and I were able to successfully propose the Regional Resiliency Response Plan Project to the NCR Healthcare Coalition. The Project, which ultimately reached statewide and significantly influenced the direction of current State COVID-19 healthcare workforce recovery programs, was a first-of-its-kind approach to surveying the condition of the response workforce and resiliency resources currently deployed by agencies and then exploring opportunities for inter-agency and regional resiliency resource sharing based on those assessments.

Everyone should understand that the most significant Colorado (and maybe national) effort to systematically assess and holistically address COVID-19 responder and health workforce impacts originated in and continues to receive significant direction from the Colorado EMS community.
Lynn’s efforts have been a key part of building and empowering the EMS community to be in a position of relative strength, both to assume this leadership position in the broader community and to self-advocate for the resources EMS responders themselves need.”

EMSAC Award for Valor
Aaron Zinser, Eagle County Paramedics and Vail Mountain Rescue Group
Region 5/Central Mountains RETAC

On August 13, 2022, Vail Mountain Rescue (VMR) and a Colorado Army National Guard’s High Altitude Aviation Training Site (HAATS) flight crew were called to assist with helicopter hoist rescue of two hikers trapped on Snowmass Mountain near Aspen. A hiker and companion were ascending a summit attempt on the ridgeline when a rock gave way, precipitating incapacitating injuries to one hiker who slid 300 feet down a 60-degree pitch of loose scree and cliff bands at 13,500 ft.

Care Flight Air Medical Services was unable to make the patient pickoff due to impossible landing and wind conditions in the austere environment. VMR and HAATS detachment were deployed via Blackhawk for hoist rescue of a multisystem trauma patient in and out of consciousness, unable to self-rescue after SOS and 911 activation.

Aaron Zinser, a search and rescue (SAR) paramedic with Eagle County Paramedics and VMR, who is also one of a handful of hoist-certified paramedics in the state, was deployed with HAATS to provide stabilizing medical care and extract the hikers. VMR member Christian Wasziak was in the field with Zinser; Kate Van Schaack, also with VMR, assisted. HAATS team members (all with Colorado National Guard) were Pilot in Command, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Craig Wenkheimer; Pilot, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Patrick Gates; Crew Chief, Staff Sergeant Jeremy Hubbard; Crew Chief, Sergeant Daniel Carnahan.
When the hikers were found and identified, Zinser was flown via Blackhawk helicopter to the hikers’ location, precariously perched on a loose rock cliff band that precluded helicopter landing. Zinser descended the aerial hoist to a low-stability environment with only inches of room to work with. Upon reaching the patient, Zinser realized that his own stability was threatened but persevered to provide necessary medical services while hanging onto a rock for his own security. One-handed on a cliff band with extreme exposure, Zinser not only educated and trained the climbing partner in assisting with patient hemorrhage control, but commanded his entire crew to stabilize, start IVs, vacuum splint, package and hoist the patient and hiking partner to safety in the Blackhawk.

The primary patient sustained severe head, chest, back and extremity injuries and required immediate rendezvous with a Care Flight Critical Care Flight team to the nearest Level 1 trauma center. Though search and rescue groups like Vail Mountain Rescue run a variety of high mountain rescue calls throughout the year, this situation was an outlier. Zinser has trained extensively and executed numerous high alpine and helicopter hoist rescues, but this particular event was more extreme with higher stakes than most. He truly demonstrated unwavering gallantry and bravery, commanding the impossible while providing life-saving care and logistics for both his patient and the hiker’s partner all at a clear risk of his own personal safety. When Zinser handed off the patient to the Critical Care flight service with all members of his team safe and accounted for, his only comment on the call was, “I wish I could have done more.”

C.J. Shanaberger Award for Lifetime Achievement
Randy Lesher, Thompson Valley EMS Chief-retired
Region 1/NE RETAC

Chief Randy Lesher is a pioneer of EMS in Colorado. Very few, if any, share Randy’s perspective on and experience in EMS. A native of Canon City, Colorado, Randy has spent a career in service to others and has had an impact far beyond his Colorado roots.

Randy’s EMS story begins in a funeral home in Canon City, where he had a job as a gravedigger in junior high school. He can personally recall the time when, prior to organized EMS as we know it today, the ambulance service was run out of funeral homes and gas stations, among other places.

Growing up in the community he served has shaped Randy’s view on providing EMS care-- every patient matters and in that community, he personally knew many of the patients he encountered. He has never lost his focus on patients, as a provider or leader in EMS. Randy freely provides his job description as the Chief to anyone who asks about what he does: “I have two jobs: to take care of the people who call for help and to take care of the people who take care of the people who call for help.” His leadership demonstrates his focus on these two jobs every day.

A career public servant, Chief Lesher has always been involved in his community. He served as a sheriff’s deputy, a city councilman for Canon City, mayor pro-tem and interim mayor. He has served on numerous boards and committees and his colleagues have selected him for leadership roles in them, including Chairman of the Canon City Fire District Authority Board and the Fremont County 911 Authority Board for which he still serves as chairman. He served as Vice Chair of the State of Colorado Emergency Medical and Trauma Advisory Council and is still the Chairman of the Larimer County Emergency Telephone Authority Board.

Randy has been active in shaping Colorado EMS systems from his involvement in the implementation of the 911 phone system as the Fremont County Public Safety Answering Point Coordinator to being appointed to the SEMTAC for several terms by three different state governors. He has given a voice to EMS as a discipline as a federal evaluator for toxic chemical programs, for federal transportation rail safety and in every venue, he has been involved in as an EMS leader, including the Governor’s Homeland Security and All-Hazards Senior Advisory Committee, and as the President of the Emergency Medical Services Association of Colorado (EMSAC).

Randy Kuykendall, Former Director of the Health Facilities & EMS Division, CDPHE, says of Randy, “Over the arc of his career, Chief Randy Lesher has always shown up. He has dedicated himself to his two jobs-- taking care of patients and the people who take care of patients-- in his service area and beyond.
He is a pioneer in Colorado EMS and his efforts and contributions to prehospital care have been consistent and long-lasting, representing a lifetime of outstanding service to the profession and the public.

I can’t begin to recall the hundreds of hours that Chief Lesher has spent teaching, testing skills, providing vital technical information and supporting so many new EMS professionals, healthcare system leaders and state-level policymakers. His commonsense wisdom has served many and certainly factored into many of my own decisions/policies on behalf of the Colorado EMS and trauma system during my own tenure.

I can honestly say that Chief Randy Lesher is ‘the real deal’ servant leader who is one of the giants of our pre-hospital care system across Colorado.”

EMSAC President’s Award - posthumously
Leo Lloyd, III, Durango Fire Protection District, La Plata County SAR, San Juan County SAR
Region 9/SW RETAC

Not only was Leo Lloyd III active in multiple responder roles dating back to the early 1980s, he was also instrumental in helping develop multiple new programs and organizations, while passionately training and mentoring hundreds of others throughout his career.

After growing up in Montana, Leo moved to Durango to attend Fort Lewis College in 1980. His grandfather, Leo Lloyd I, was a general surgeon at the old Mercy Hospital and the family had frequently visited Durango, which later drew Leo to the town and the San Juan Mountains. He joined the newly-formed La Plata County Search and Rescue as an FLC student and actively recruited other students. His passion for conducting and training technical rope rescue only accelerated from that point on. In 1985, Leo started working for the hospital-based Mercy Ambulance as an EMT, then attended the Swedish Paramedic Program in Englewood, Colorado in 1988. While at Mercy, Leo started the Mountain Response Team (MRT) which creatively embedded paramedics into backcountry rescue missions, predating the helicopter EMS programs of today. He also flew with Mercy Air Care as a fixed-wing flight medic, igniting his passion for flight medicine.

In 1992, San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington started the first helicopter flight program in the region and Leo jumped at the chance to be part of the new SJRMC Air Care. In 1995, while working as a flight medic, Leo completed nursing school, further advancing his critical care skills. In 2000, he transitioned to the new Animas Surgical Center on Main Avenue, again a developing new upstart organization, where he gained experience in post-surgical care.

In 2002, three fire departments and the Mercy Paramedics consolidated into the Durango Fire and Rescue Authority, which later became the Durango Fire Protection District. Leo was once again recruited to help develop a new program and was the original C Shift EMS Captain. He quickly established solid firefighting skills which became the new standard for all front-line staff. During his time at D.F.P.D., Leo additionally served as EMS Training Captain and led the Tech Rescue Team. In 2018, Leo saw another need and offered to help train and mentor new EMTs and paramedics with the new Interfacility Program where he served as IFT EMS Captain.

While full-time at D.F.P.D., Leo was also an instructor with Rigging for Rescue for two decades, teaching tech rescue for numerous organizations around the U.S. and internationally. In 2017, he accepted an offer to help train Nepali high-altitude Sherpas at the Khumbu Climbing Center and spend a cold winter month in Phortse, Nepal helping them gain valuable technical skills. He also recently completed two climbing ranger rotations on Denali, in Alaska, performing high-altitude rescues on both tours. In his spare time… Leo worked for Silverton EMS and was active on San Juan County’s SAR through that program. Days before he died, Leo did his last SAR mission, climbing all three Trinity Peaks as part of a search.

On behalf of the Durango Fire Protection District, we offer our condolences to all who knew Leo, were trained by him, or were impacted in their careers. His focus on education and training will leave a legacy in the fire, EMS, S&R and rope rescue worlds.

EMSAC State Legislators of the Year Award – Colorado Senate
Honorable Senator Chris Hansen

The 2022 legislative session was the most significant session for EMS in years! Not only were we successful in passing SB22-225, we also approved SB22-226, Programs to Support Healthcare Workforce, and Senator Hansen was a key supporter and co-sponsor of the Bill. The Bill creates and funds the healthcare workforce resilience and retention program using existing initiatives to ensure that Colorado’s healthcare workforce, including and highlighting EMS in the Bill, is supported to meet the healthcare demands of Coloradans.

More importantly, as vice chair of the Joint Budget Committee, Senator Hansen was pivotal in approving the most significant Medicaid rate increase for EMS in state history! Early in the legislative session, EMSAC members approached Senator Hansen with our request to raise the state Medicaid rates paid to EMS to 80% of the Medicare allowable rates. EMSAC members explained why the increase was needed, explained the negative impacts of the low rates currently being paid for ambulance services, and he was 100% in support. He immediately included our request and incorporated it into the state budgeting process. He remained steadfast in his support and insistence that this increase remain a funding priority in the state budget, even in the face of pressure to reduce our request in favor of other funding requests. Senator Hansen’s budget request for EMS was approved, and EMS is grateful for his continued support of EMS and the citizens we serve.

Honorable Senator Larry Liston

“Always watching out for EMS.” That’s the introduction we need to say about Senator Larry Liston! Throughout his years in the legislature, Senator Liston has supported many of our efforts to improve EMS. Senator Liston has been essential in obtaining multiple incremental Medicaid rate increases for EMS.

Senator Liston was watching out for EMS on two primary bills this year. First, he worked with EMSAC to address our cost and compliance concerns around EMS reporting for fentanyl cases. During the senate floor debate, Senator Liston successfully added and passed a second reading amendment HB22-1326 (Fentanyl Accountability). His amendment moved the language from a mandated requirement to make EMS participation optional.

Then, at the last minute of the legislative session, Senator Liston partnered with Senator Zenzinger as a co-prime sponsor of a late bill – SB22-225, the Ambulance Service Sustainability and State Licensing bill. Senator Zenzinger on the day of our legislative reception, was successful in obtaining late bill status and introduced the Bill; however, we needed bi-partisan support to get the Bill passed. That evening, EMSAC approached Senator Liston during our reception and asked him to be our senate co-sponsor. Of course, he agreed! Since the Bill was introduced late in the session, the challenge was a race against the clock. If both chambers did not approve the Bill before the session ended, it would fail. The Senate approved the Bill. However, approval in the House included amendments; therefore, the Bill needed to be re-approved by the Senate. During the waning hours of the last day of the legislative session, Senator Liston was in the Senate, watching out for EMS, and got our Bill across the finish line!

Thank you, Senators Hansen and Liston, for your ongoing dedication and support of EMS. Congratulations on being the EMSAC Legislators of the Year -Senate!

EMSAC State Legislators of the Year – Colorado House of Representatives
Honorable Representatives Dylan Roberts and Mark Baisley

Representative Dylan Roberts is a reliable supporter and friend of EMS in the legislature. He sponsored, co-sponsored or supported many bills to improve EMS and fire-related services around the state.
This year, he was the key sponsor of HB22-1251, Cardiac Arrest Management, which created the only cardiac arrest management office in the nation. With an emphasis on using data to improve cardiac arrest management in the field, it also enhances patient outcomes by promoting public access to defibrillators and raising public awareness and response regarding sudden cardiac arrest.

Representative Mark Baisley is a rising star in his legislative support of EMS! Before this year’s legislative session, he devoted a significant amount of his time sitting in the back of an ambulance to gain more insight into EMS issues, including our strengths and weakness, funding shortfalls, and recruitment and retention problems. With this background, it’s no wonder that both Representatives Roberts and Baisley served as prime co-sponsors of the most significant legislation to impact EMS in years!

Without hesitation, Representatives Roberts and Baisley joined Senators Liston and Zenzinger in pushing SB22-225, the Ambulance Service Sustainability and State Licensing bill, through the legislature. It would pose a significant challenge as it was introduced late in the session, and the Senate had to pass it before their work began. However, with only a few days remaining of the legislative session, the representatives successfully navigated the Bill through the House. Because of their skill as legislators and dedication to EMS, it passed just in the nick of time!

Finally, this legislation, along with his desire to enhance EMS, Representative Baisley also volunteered to serve as the Colorado House of Representatives Representative to the EMS Sustainability Taskforce.
Thank you, Representatives Roberts and Baisley, for your ongoing dedication and support of EMS. Congratulations on being EMSAC State Legislators of the Year – House of Representatives!

EMSAC Golden Ambulance Award
Honorable Senator Rachel Zenzinger

The Golden Ambulance Award is a special award given to a legislator who exhibited exceptional support of EMS. For the second time in a row, and only the second time this award has been bestowed, this award goes to the Honorable Senator Rachel Zenzinger.

At approximately mid-legislative session earlier in 2022, Senator Zenzinger was re-appointed to the Joint Budget Committee (JBC). While working with fellow JBC committee members to craft the subsequent year’s budget, she joined Senator Hansen in becoming a steadfast supporter of the Medicaid rate increase for EMS. Even when fellow JBC members worked to reduce the rate increase, she remained resolute in keeping our rate increase in the state budget. Senators Hansen and Zenzinger made our rate increase a reality, and the rate increase became effective in July of this year. But that’s not all…

Then EMSAC proposed a bill that needed a sponsor, a sponsor dedicated and strong enough to acquire late bill status approval from senate leadership to get the bill off the ground. With little time before the end of the session, EMSAC needed a senator with the fortitude to build a legislative coalition to support the bill and navigate it through the various committees and floor votes. For this bill to pass, nothing could go wrong.

Senator Zenzinger was the senator! On the day of EMSAC’s ‘EMS Day at the Capitol' and legislative reception, she paraded out of the Senate President's office with late bill status in hand. She formed a winning bi-partisan team of senate and house EMS all-stars (Senator Liston and Representatives Baisley and Roberts) to co-sponsor her bill, and together, they crafted a strategy and went to work for EMS. Under her leadership, the legislative all-star team came through for us in the waning hours of the last two days of the 2022 session, and SB22-225, the Ambulance Service Sustainability and State Licensing Act, was passed. Then …

After working hard to pass SB22-225, she volunteered and requested to be the senate representative and chair of the Statewide Ambulance Sustainability Taskforce.

Thank you Senator Zenzinger, for your enduring support, time, dedication and commitment to EMS. EMSAC is proud to award you with the Golden Ambulance Award!