Rowan County EMS pair judged to be N.C.'s top paramedic team for 2014

Greensboro, N.C.

For a pair of Rowan County paramedics, their third try yielded the top performance during a judged competition with five other teams at this week's North Carolina Paramedic Championship.

Daniel Medina and Aaron Thurston carried top honors home with them following the 24th Annual Paramedic Competition, held at the Koury Center during the Emergency Medicine Today Conference.

They out-performed two-time defending champions from Leland Fire and Rescue, Michael Herbert and Chris Watford, and four other pairs of champions selected following regional competitions in July from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center Air Care, Mecklenburg EMS, Surry County Emergency Services, and Pender County EMS and Fire. The championship competition is co-sponsored by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and the N.C. College of Emergency Physicians and participating community colleges.

Regina Godette-Crawford, chief of the N.C. Office of Emergency Medical Services, announced the winners to whoops, hollers and applause from a banquet hall bursting with hundreds of paramedics, EMTs and county emergency services medical directors. "All these contenders are the best of the best, and our congratulations go to all the winners," she said as she called out the Rowan County team.

Teams were sequestered and drew lots to determine their order as each was called out to face a room full of peers while confronting the medical situation of a runner down with no pulse at the finish line of a marathon.

In the scenario, event staff are providing life-sustaining support to the runner when the competing teams arrive. Not long after, there's an alert broadcast to the team about a gas leak at a nearby food truck. Moments later a loud explosion rips through the competition area, followed by simulated smoke from a fogger. Suddenly two patients are brought to the finish line, one burned and confused with hearing loss, but talking; the other unconscious with part of his lower left leg severed in the explosion. The teams had 14 minutes to assess, treat and stabilize the victims. The teams use the event staff to assist while they render the most critical care.

The competition provides a training opportunity not only for the competitors, but also for the paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians who closely observe each team's analysis and reaction to the scenario from bleachers that flank the finish line. Large video screens display close-up views of procedures as teams administer care. Teams are judged on professionalism, communication, patient rapport, conduct, attitude, appearance and attire.

Through the Office of Emergency Medical Services, the Department of Health and Human Services works to foster emergency medical systems, trauma systems and credentialed EMS personnel to improve in providing responses to emergencies and disasters.