Four Priority Ambulance EMS personnel receive Star of Life Award from Children’s Emergency Care Alliance of Tennessee

May 16, 2019

Four Priority Ambulance EMTs and paramedics in Loudon County, Tennessee, were recently honored for their lifesaving efforts with the Pediatric Call of the Year for the east region at the Children’s Emergency Care Alliance of Tennessee (CECATN) Star of Life Awards in Nashville on May 15.

EMS Director Travis Estes, Paramedic Duncan Bennett, Critical Care Paramedic Edwin Paul Suarez and Advanced EMT James Jenkins attended the ceremony with their families to receive the award. At the ceremony, they were reunited with Morgan Newman, the 17-year-old patient whose life they saved in coordination with their East Tennessee first response and health care partners.

“CECATN is proud to recognize the Priority Ambulance Loudon County team with one of ten Star of Life Awards given for providing exemplary care to adults and pediatric patients in Tennessee,” said CECATN Executive Director Natasha Kurth. “The Star of Life Award not only recognizes the EMS personnel whose lifesaving effort often go unrecognized, but it also reunites the patients with the EMS caregivers who treated them.”

Priority Ambulance’s Loudon County team received the Star of Life award for the East Tennessee region in recognition of a 2018 response to a 17-year-old patient drowning in Loudon County. During a school swim party, the girl went under the water and never emerged. Bystanders called 9-1-1 and pulled her from the pool to begin CPR with direction from the Loudon County E-911 Center.

EMS Director Travis Estes was off-duty, but in the area with a quick response vehicle equipped with advance life support medical supplies. He arrived on scene ahead of the ambulance and took over CPR from the bystanders.

“The timely recognition of the event and the immediate intervention by bystander made a huge difference in this instance,” said Estes. “These bystanders were not only knew how to administer correct CPR, but were also willing to initiate it in a critical moment. CPR is critical and can double or triple the chance of survival in a cardiac arrest, particularly if administered immediately after cardiac arrest. That’s why CPR training is so important.”

When Critical Care Paramedic Edwin Paul Suarez and AEMT James Jenkins arrived on scene with the ambulance, the patient was connected to the ECG cardiac monitor and administered a shock and a dose of epinephrine to attempt to restore heart rhythm. As they placed her on the stretcher to move her to the ambulance, the EMS personnel were able to restore heart rhythm.

While the crews were working on scene, Paramedic Duncan Bennett was also off-duty and hear the call nearby on the scanner. Knowing that the call was critical and in a remote area, he drove his personal vehicle to the scene and while the team treated the patient by the side of the pool, he began to prep the ambulance, setting up IVs and medications and provided an extra pair of hands in the ambulance while riding in to the Fort Loudoun Medical Center emergency department.

“Duncan’s willingness to go above and beyond to care for our patients exemplifies what sets the Priority Ambulance’s Loudon County team apart,” said Estes. “This is our community – our friends, family and neighbors. When the call comes in, it’s ‘all hands on deck’ whether on-duty or off-duty to ensure that the patient receive the best care as quickly as possible.”

After being stabilized at Fort Loudoun, the patient was transferred to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. Newman had a congenital heart defect, a hole in her heart which was the ultimate cause of her arrest at the pool. The exertion of swimming the pool triggered a cardiac arrhythmia either in the pool or outside of the pool.  

Later, the patient was transferred to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital for successful open-heart surgery to correct the heart defect. She has since made a full recovery and was in attendance at the event on May 15 to thank those who helped save her life.

Priority Ambulance was a North Star sponsor of the CECATN Star of Life Awards, which honored the crews from Loudon County and other outstanding EMS professionals from across the state.

About Priority Ambulance

Based in Knoxville, Tenn., Priority Ambulance provides the highest level of clinical excellence in emergency and nonemergency medical care to the communities it serves. Throughout its national service area, approximately 2,800 highly trained paramedics and EMTs staff a fleet of approximately 540 state-of-the-art vehicles with the latest medical equipment and technology.

Priority Ambulance’s family of companies operates under trusted local brands providing medical transport options in nine states. The Priority Ambulance company partners include Shoals Ambulance in Alabama; Maricopa Ambulance in Arizona; Puckett EMS in Georgia and Southeast Tennessee; Central EMS in Georgia; Seals Ambulance in Indiana; Kunkel Ambulance in Upstate New York; Trans Am Ambulance in western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania; Medshore Ambulance in South Carolina; and Priority Ambulance in East Tennessee. Priority Ambulance also serves Baptist Memorial Health Care facilities in West Tennessee and Mississippi under the Baptist brand.