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EMS honors paramedics with yearly awards

Winners of Lincoln County Emergency Services peer awards, from left, Rookie of the Year Jonathan Richard, Paramedic of the Year James Smith and EMT of the Year Ethan Bivens.

MICHELLE T. BERNARD
Staff Writer

Local Emergency Medical Services men and women often work behind the scenes doing their jobs, and usually those jobs are done without recognition or applause. Yearly, peer recognition awards are given out to a rookie, an EMT, a medic and call chosen by EMS staff.

“These nominations are made by the nominee’s co-workers,” Lincoln County EMS training coordinator Chad Parlier said. “These winners are not selected by administration, but by their peers. This says a lot about how the employees feel regarding who deserves recognition for their performance throughout the year.”

This year, Jonathan Richard was named Rookie of the Year. Richard has been with Lincoln County EMS for just a year and attended Gaston College for his EMT training and also graduated with a two-year degree in fire science. He started out as a firefighter but liked emergency medical services more and changed professions.

“I like being able to help people,” he said. “EMS seems more rewarding than the fire side.”

Richard is currently undergoing paramedic training.

“Jonathan is very young and green but he’s learning daily,” supervising paramedic and operations supervisor Carol Mecimore, who has been with Lincoln County EMS for over 20 years, said. “He’s put with different partners daily and everybody has had very good feedback.”

Like Richard, Ethan Bivens, who was named the EMT of the Year, started out as a fireman and still serves as a volunteer firefighter for the North 321 Station. He’s been with Lincoln County EMS for three years.

“I wanted to help and just decided to go get it,” he said. “I always wanted to be a fireman but you had to be an EMT as well and I fell in love with that. It isn’t just about helping people, it’s meeting them. You may be stuck in the base all day but some days you’re out and about all day.”

Bivens said he wouldn’t have been named EMT of the Year if everyone he’s worked with over the past three years hadn’t taught him all that he knows today. He has no plans to attend paramedic school at the time.

“I’m happy where I’m at and I want a little more experience as an EMT first,” he said. “Every call is different and there’s always a challenge.”

Mecimore admitted that she holds Bivens close to her heart because she’s watched him grow up in the department.

“It seems like the fire service and our department go hand in hand,” she said. “Either they like the fire service or they like EMS. I’m married to one of those firemen and it’s in my house all the time. There’s always that battle between the two. Ethan is a huge asset to this service.”

James Smith was named Paramedic of the Year. He served four years as a police officer in Winston-Salem before turning to his current position as a paramedic, which he’s served in for three years.

“My father’s in the military and my mother’s a nurse and I feel like I’ve always tried to do things to use their influence to some good,” he said. “The police thing was to suit my father and the EMS has been more to suit my mother. I’ve always been interested in medical work because she talks about it being a nurse. I think EMS was a good combination of both. The differences are small – but essentially they center around someone calling 911 and you going to solve the problem whether it’s medical or criminal.”

As a paramedic, Smith is usually the head person on the ambulance. Each ambulance has to have one paramedic on board. He said that he always tries to lead by example rather than telling people what to do and to take a soft approach and be patient, which was something he struggled with in the beginning. The technical training came easy for him, but the interpersonal skills needed in his job were more difficult to develop.

Smith likes the tangible results that he sees in this job.

“If someone can’t breathe and you give them medicine and then they can, I see that I’ve helped,” he said. “With other jobs like police work, you never know what happens. With treating people medically, you get to see the benefit right in front of you.”

In Smith’s first year at Lincoln County EMS he won the Rookie of the Year award.

“James is very reserved and quiet and not very sociable but he has really progressed,” Mecimore said. “He’s very confident and takes his job very seriously. EMS technicians are all type-A personalities and a little loud but James is a little different I think because of the background that he comes from. It’s so nice to watch these young people come in and progress the way they do and become leaders. It’s very rewarding.”

The Call of the Year award went to Paula Williams and Tony Waters.

Image courtesy of Michelle T. Bernard

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