Tuesday evening, April 12, 2016, the American Ambulance Association honored 103 EMS providers at the annual Stars of Life banquet in the Grand Ballroom at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, D.C.
AAA president Mike Hall introduced the evening’s keynote speaker, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.) to the attendees, noting that the Senator has an established reputation as a tireless fighter for New York, and that he visits all 62 counties in the state every year to talk to constituents in every corner of the state.
Schumer, recognizing the aging American population and the increasing demands for ambulance service to assist the elderly, pledged his continued support for legislation and assistance to EMS to cope with the costs associated with that increased demand and other ambulance service needs.
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) addresses the 2016 Stars of Life recipients.
After Schumer’s address, a fast-paced presentation/recap of the week’s events had the audience laughing, clapping and cheering, especially as photos of Monday’s ice-breaker event were shown, in which the 103 Stars pitted against each other in a light-hearted contest to design the EMS uniform of the future with candy, beads, garbage bags and duct tape. The creativity displayed was incredible, but the clear winner was a shoulder-mounted double-pillow device designed to help crews relax during long shifts. The audience cheered for their favorites, and even made some more noise with the red, white and blue confetti poppers and horns placed on each table by AAA staff.
The U.S. Military Honor Guard opened the 2016 Stars of Life banquet.
The banquet took on a serious and emotionally charged mood when Hall reviewed the many achievements made by this year’s attendees in all aspects of EMS. Hall praised the recipients for their dedication, innovation and willingness to cope with increasing changes and demands of the health care environment. He also thanked the award winners for their selfless devotion to patients in need of their services, noting that one recipient, Michael Tharp, a paramedic with Pafford Medical Service in Arkansas, was called upon to assist a passenger on his flight to Washington, D.C. who went into respiratory arrest. Tharp’s resuscitative efforts were successful, an effort that earned him a stating ovation from the audience.
Hall then asked future AAA President Mark Postma to assist him as he presented each recipient with a beautiful wood frame with an inscribed plaque and duplicate of the gold medal they each received at Monday’s luncheon, recognizing them for their outstanding achievements in in EMS.
The 2016 Stars of Life recipients enjoying the banquet held by AAA in their honor.
The banquet closed day two of a busy three-day event for the EMS personnel. On Wednesday, award winners and their sponsors will continue visits to the office of their Congress members to discuss their awards and issues of importance to EMS.
The Stars of Life winners are nominated by their agencies and supported in their travel and accommodations to attend the prestigious event in our nation’s capital. If nominating organizations cannot afford to send their award recipient to the event, the AAA has a grant program available to assist award winners. Each award winner is accompanied either by a representative from their service’s management team or a designated sponsor when they attend meetings with their state’s Congressional representatives.