Selfless Act Leads to Medal

MESA, Ariz. — He didn’t know anyone was watching.

In a touching tribute to a friend, Southwest Ambulance Paramedic Francisco “Cisco” Preciado placed his own “Star of Life” medal inside the casket of his friend and co-worker, Emergency Medical Technician Mark Vernick, 32. Vernick was killed on January 8, 2010 in a motorcycle collision that occurred on his way home from working a shift.

But someone was watching.

“It was possibly the most selfless act I’ve ever seen in EMS,” said Ken Daughtery, Market General Manager for Southwest Ambulance in Pinal County, Arizona.
The “Star of Life” is a national award to recognize the country’s most outstanding Paramedics and EMTs. Cisco was one of only three in Arizona to receive the award in 2009.

“In the world of EMS, it’s not a casual award, it’s THE award,” Daughtery added. “For Cisco to so quietly and unassumingly leave his medal to lay with Mark forever was one of the most powerful things I’ve ever witnessed.”

Unbeknownst to Cisco, Southwest Ambulance contacted the American Ambulance Association who agreed to send a replacement medal to be re-presented.

In separate events, the medal was re-presented to Cisco in front of his family, peers and co-workers. Congresswoman Kirkpatrick met with Cisco at Casa Grande Regional Medical Center on Memorial Day, May 31 to re-present the medal. A few days later on Thursday June 3, Congressman Harry Mitchell re-presented the Star of Life medal during a special ceremony at Southwest Ambulance’s headquarters campus.

Southwest Ambulance is in Congressman Mitchell’s congressional district. Also, when Cisco received the award in Washington DC, Congressman Mitchell took the time to meet with him as part of an EMS Day on the Hill program. Congresswoman Kirkpatrick’s district includes Casa Grande, where Cisco lives and works, as did Mark Vernick.

Video of both presentations is posted on Southwest Ambulance’s YouTube page at: Photos are also available upon request.

Francisco “Cisco” Preciado lives and works in Casa Grande, Arizona. He joined Southwest Ambulance as a Paramedic in 2005 after eight years with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coastguard. He began his EMS career in the State of Washington as a Firefighter/ EMT. Cisco was initially nominated to receive this prestigious award because he truly epitomizes Southwest Ambulance’s “Tradition of Caring” in his attitude and in every aspect of his daily performance. His selflessness displayed at Mark Vernick’s funeral only further shows Cisco’s character and why he is so worthy of this national, lifetime achievement award.

Southwest Ambulance Paramedics Andria Carter and Russ Yeskin also received Star of Life medals in 2009.

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