LAFAYETTE, La.-- Acadian Ambulance's choice among its own for Paramedic of the Year ministers to both people in need of ambulance service, and to fellow paramedics.
The Lafayette-based ambulance service company on Friday recognized 14-year veteran and Houma resident Glenn Naquin for his work with the company.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.; and Joseph Savoie, the state commissioner of higher education and soon-to-be president of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, were part of the ceremony to honor Naquin, as was LSU football coach Les Miles, the keynote speaker.
Naquin serves not only as a flight paramedic in his hometown, but also as a pastor with Acadian's Critical Incident Stress Committee.
He said that group's mission is to help Acadian's own emergency responders when the job they do really gets to them.
"We respond to medics that worked a really bad call," Naquin said. "We are normal people subjected to an abnormal job."
Naquin, an ordained Pentecostal minister, said that he is able to speak to his colleagues in need both from his studies in the faith, but also from his experience doing the same job they do.
"I think I can relate to both realms. It would be easy for a pastor to give spiritual advice, but they could say you don't do this job, you don't know," he said.
Naquin said different circumstances trigger strong reactions in some paramedics.
"For some people, it's a really bad call with a child. Some people might have lost a family member, and a call might remind them of that," he said.
Naquin said that he is also often called upon to demonstrate another facet of his skill set, his relatively recently acquired fluency in Spanish.
He said dispatchers often use him to help bridge the language gap on emergency calls from Spanish-speaking people.
The catch there is that he did not speak a word of Spanish before 2004.
Naquin said that he became involved with a Spanish-speaking church a few years back, helping a friend who was the pastor there.
He said he began to work as a pastor there after his friend left, working through an interpreter.
"I didn't know much more (Spanish) than 'Where's the bathroom?' when I started," Naquin said.
He said that visits to Spanish-immersion schools in Guatemala in 2004 and 2005 raised him from conversational to fluent in the language.
Naquin said his callings to the church and to being a paramedic are both born in a desire to help people in need.
Miles, in his comments, noted that the calling to serve was something that impressed him not only about Naquin's winning of the award, but about the entire company.
He particularly noted Acadian's role in helping people during and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Landrieu lauded Acadian both for the work it does every day, but also for bringing representatives from LSU and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette - Miles and Savoie respectively - onto the same stage peacefully.
"You notice no biscuits are flying across the table," she said.
Savoie, however could not resist challenging Miles, offering the coach known for his preference for ball caps a UL-Lafayette ball cap marked "Cajuns."
Miles took the hat, but did not wear it and quickly tucked it out of sight.
Savoie, on a more serious note, also thanked Miles for his joining the opposition many representatives of high education had to a recently defeated state legislative proposal allowing students to carry guns on college campuses.
"That may be good for your business, Richard (Zuchslag, president of Acadian Ambulance), but it's not good for our business," Savoie said.
Savoie said Miles showed courage to publicly oppose the bill and that Miles' opposition was important in stopping the measure.
Miles said keeping guns off campus and out of the stadiums was common sense for a coach who tries to convert fourth down plays as often as he does.