Kunkel EMT awarded basic life support provider of the year
Kunkel Ambulance and Mohawk Valley Ambulance Corps have received regional recognition for their lifesaving response to a mass shooting incident in Herkimer County in 2013.
The 2013 St. Elizabeth Trauma Center’s Life-Saving Award was announced during the Midstate Regional Emergency Medical Services Council’s annual awards ceremony. Kunkel Ambulance and Mohawk Valley Ambulance Corps (MOVAC) were recognized for their response to the shooting in March 2013 that left four people dead and two critically injured.
“The incident highlighted Kunkel Ambulance and MOVAC’s expertise as an ambulance service to get the patients to the right hospital at the right time. This directly related to lives saved,” said Paul Campbell, trauma program manager for St. Elizabeth’s Trauma Center. “For someone with a serious injury, it’s not just about getting to the closest hospital. A trauma patient is 25 percent less likely to die at a trauma center than at a regular emergency department.”
MOVAC serves Herkimer County and the villages of Herkimer and Mohawk in Herkimer County. Kunkel Ambulance provides emergency services to the city of Utica and Oneida County, as well as mutual aid service to a large portion of Herkimer County. In March 2013, Kunkel Ambulance paramedics responded to Herkimer County for extra assistance during an emergency situation involving an armed gunman.
On the morning of March 13 in the village of Mohawk, Kurt Meyers set fire to his apartment, walked into a barber shop and opened fire, killing two customers and wounding the shop’s owner and another customer. He then drove to Gaffey’s Fast Lube in Herkimer, New York, and fatally shot two people. During the incident, Kunkel Ambulance paramedics William Dye and Brian Crolius and MOVAC employees Anthony Testa, Tammy Wheelock and Theodore Hilts triaged patients on the scene and transported victims to the hospital.
“Communication with paramedics on the scene is crucial,” Campbell said. “In this situation, we were able to understand what injuries the patients had before arrival. By the time the patients got here, we were ready for them.”
St. Elizabeth Trauma Center staff selected Kunkel Ambulance and MOVAC for the Life-Saving Award after reviewing high-level trauma cases from throughout 2013. Though the incident resulted in loss of life, the emergency response was seamless, and the two gunshot victims treated at St. Elizabeth made a full recovery.
“This was an example of one of the highest level trauma activations that can come through our facility,” Campbell said. “We deal with trauma every day, but this did not just deal with trauma. The information that came across about the situation increased our security levels at our facility. It became an emergency preparedness event.”
The two survivors from the barber shop, John Seymour and Dan Haslauer, attended the ceremony and presented the award to the paramedics who helped save their lives.
“Kunkel Ambulance is proud to be honored by the St. Elizabeth Trauma Center and the Midstate Regional EMS Council,” said Kunkel Ambulance CEO Cathy Kunkel. “The Herkimer shootings shocked and changed our community forever. I am proud of William, Brian and the whole Kunkel and MOVAC teams who responded quickly and professionally to this tragedy.”
EMS professionals nominate their peers for the Midstate Regional EMS Council’s annual recognition and appreciation awards. At the ceremony, Kunkel Ambulance EMT Armin Racic was honored as the Basic Life Support (BLS) Provider of Year for extraordinary patient care. Racic is 19 years old and received his EMT certification in March 2013. He was hired full time by Kunkel Ambulance in February 2014.
“I can’t say enough good things about Armin,” said Randy Sutherland, director of operations for Kunkel Ambulance. “He deserves this award because he is willing to step up and go above and beyond what is required to provide excellent patient care.”
Racic also serves as an EMT with the Central Oneida County Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
Other award winners included:
- EMS Youth Provider of the Year – Sean Krun, Frankfort Ambulance
- Harriet Weber Leadership Award – Bob Sturdevant, Madison County, Midstate REMSCO
- ALS Provider of the Year – John Walter, Prospect Ambulance
- EMS Agency of the Year – Frankfort Fire Department Ambulance
- Safety and Quality Award – Cazenovia Fire Department
- EMS Educator of the Year – Leslie Myers
- Communications Specialist of the Year – Ryan Ammann
- EMS RN of Distinction – Stephanie Oldick
- EMS Physician of Excellence – John Rubin
- Commissioner of Health Award – W.J. Taylor
- Hart Award – Herkimer County Emergency Services
About Kunkel Ambulance Since 1939, Kunkel Ambulance has provided excellent emergency and nonemergency ambulance services in the City of Utica and Oneida County in the Mohawk Valley of Upstate New York and provides mutual aid service to a large portion of Oneida and Herkimer counties. Every Kunkel ambulance is staffed with highly skilled, certified paramedics and EMTs who are trained in the latest lifesaving technology and emergency protocols. Kunkel Ambulance is a part of Priority Ambulance, a national ambulance company headquartered in East Tennessee. Priority Ambulance’s more than 300 paramedics, EMTs and telecommunicators serve communities in Tennessee, Alabama and New York.