2006 EMSC National Heroes Awards Recipients


Steven R. Karl, MD
2006 EMSC Provider Leadership Award

The Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) Provider Leadership Award recognizes a clinically-based health professional who has dedicated his or her time, talent, and energy to achieve the highest level of care for children in the community. This individual has helped assure the best possible care for ill and injured kids, and provides leadership in addressing priority EMSC issues.

Stephen R. Karl, MD’s passion for providing the highest level of care is evident in the personal commitment and sacrifice he makes for his patients. From 1992 to 2004, he was South Dakota’s only pediatric surgeon. Despite the hectic schedule of being on call at all times, he always was willing to donate the time needed to provide pediatric education for pre-hospital providers, nurses, and physicians. He has traveled the state, the region, and beyond to offer his pediatric expertise to others.

Dr. Karl has devoted countless hours to the American Academy of Pediatrics, serving as a representative to its Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the EMS Professions, as a representative to its Advanced Pediatric Life Support Steering Committee, and as chair for the South Dakota’s American Academy of Pediatrics Chapter Committee on Pediatric Emergency Medicine.

In addition, he is a member of the State Trauma/EMS Stakeholders Group, and currently serves as the medical director for the Avera McKennan School of EMS, South Dakota’s only accredited paramedic education program.

Dr. Karl has served as the principal investigator for the New Hampshire and South Dakota EMSC programs. He was instrumental in the development of the Heartland EMS for Children Council. Currently, he is working with American Samoa as a mentor to their EMSC program and has provided technical assistance to HRSA and the federal EMSC program on many, many issues.

John Tilford, PhD
2006 Outstanding EMSC Research Project Award

“Hospitalizations for critically ill children with traumatic brain injuries: a longitudinal analysis”

The Outstanding EMSC Research Project Award highlights an individual or project team who has completed a significant EMSC-related research study that confirms current practice or has the potential to impact the provision of pediatric emergency care at a national or international level. The project’s research findings must also have been published within the past 15 months.

Published in the September 2005 issue of Critical Care Medicine , this study is a rare demonstration of the effect of aggressive critical care, an important component of the EMSC continuum of care, on the mortality from one of the leading causes of death in infants and children, traumatic brain injury.

Using sophisticated database analysis, the investigators demonstrated that aggressive treatment of critically ill children with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) appears to contribute to reduced hospital mortality rates between 1988 and 1999, and saved thousands of lives. The study further demonstrates a disparity of care between children who have insurance and uninsured children. Uninsured children had three times the mortality risk of privately-insured children.

The study also found that the incidence of critically ill children and adolescents with traumatic brain injury is not only rising, but it is doing so at an alarming rate. TBI hospitalization rates increased 20 percent per year during an 11-year period.

This is not the first time Dr. Tilford, or “Mick” as he is known by many, has contributed to EMSC with scholarly work. In 2001, he was published for a study demonstrating differences in mortality from head trauma between hospitals with variable standards of care.

Dr. Tilford is a recognized expert in health economics and has contributed to the EMSC program for more than 10 years by participating in grant reviews, grantee meetings, and stakeholder meetings.

Linda Savoie
2006 Family Member Volunteer of the Year

This award is given to a family member who has provided exemplary service that has made a significant positive impact on addressing the emergency medical needs of the children in his or her community. This year, the EMSC Program honored family representatives from two states. The first award was given to Linda Savoie of Lockport, LA.

As a single parent to two beautiful girls, one with special needs, Linda Savoie knows all too well how a sluggish and ill-informed public health care system impacts the care that children with special health care needs receive. For years, she worked the phones and asked the hard questions to ensure that her child and other “differently-abled” children receive the best care possible.

When a need went unmet, she filled it. As such, Linda now is one of only two Louisiana child car seat technicians certified in the requirements of children with special needs. Because of her concerns about the needs of these special children within the regional Native American tribe, she built friendships that enabled her to help this community receive child car seat safety inspections and other services.

But, it was her ebullient personality that led her to her most personally rewarding and successful endeavor. After graduating from the EMS-sponsored Clown School, Linda became funny-face “Lulu the Clown.” Through her bubbly personality, Lulu teaches children about fire safety, dog bite prevention, and how to use 9-1-1. Her cheerful and lively presentation puts children at ease and brings about both joy and change. Linda put her skills in working with children to good use during a hurricane evacuation by organizing games and story-telling to help keep children entertained and calm.

Two years ago, Linda discovered a new way to channel her boundless energy and passion for children. She became an active volunteer for EMSC. She currently serves as the family representative to the Governor’s EMSC Advisory Board. In addition to being the Board’s past vice-chairman, Linda is a member of its Disaster Preparedness and Response Committee and chair of its Public Education and Advocacy Committee.

Melody Mesmer
2006 Family Member Volunteer of the Year Award

From Frisco, CO, Melody Mesmer has served as the parent representative for Colorado’s EMSC State Partnership Grant since 2003. She is currently a registered paramedic, a volunteer for a busy fire protection service, a coordinator for the Regional Emergency Medical and Trauma Advisory Council, an instructor for EMT-Basic and EMT-Intermediate courses, and a certified teacher for some of the most sought after programs in pediatric pre-hospital education, including Pediatric Advanced Life Support and Pediatric Education for Pre-hospital Professionals. One topic of discussion that enters into every course she teaches and every speech she presents is the important role of, and the tremendous need for, family-centered care.

Her passion for pediatric care goes beyond being a healthcare provider, educator, and advocate. Melody also aids the community directly through her work as a child car seat technician. According to fellow 911 responder Timothy Beglen, “Melody will never be satisfied just doing a job, she will always be in a leadership role, looking for processes to fix, people to educate, and barriers to tear down.” She is a member of several pediatric boards, councils, and committees, and has successfully lobbied legislators for appropriate funding for education in EMSC.

Melody has filled an important role in educating other family representatives through presentations at EMSC Grantee Meetings, the National Congress on Childhood Emergencies, and an EMSC webcast. She actively mentors other family representatives in the Intermountain Region, helping them become better prepared to promote family-centered care in EMS and to advocate for needed services for children.

Oconomowoc, Wisconsin Junior Woman’s Club
2006 Community Partnership of Excellence Award

The EMSC Community Partnership of Excellence Award recognizes an organization that has taken a leadership role in, and made significant contribution to improving, emergency care for children and their families. In addition, the recipient of this award must demonstrate an ability to work collaboratively with a state EMSC program to improve pediatric emergency care in one or more states.

In 2001, members of the Oconomowoc, Wisconsin Junior Woman’s Club attended an international conference where EMSC hosted an informational booth for attendees. It was during that conference that the club first heard about EMSC efforts to distribute lists of recommended pediatric supplies for both basic and advanced life support ambulances. The club immediately took action.

While distributing the lists to local volunteer fire departments, the club discovered that the supply most often requested was the Broselow-Luten tape. It was at this point that the Oconomowoc Junior Woman’s Club shifted its focus from simply distributing information to raising funds for the purchase and distribution of Broselow-Luten tapes to all 32 fire departments in Waukesha County.

As the club’s relationship with their local fire departments grew, a new need was identified in 2004: development of a prototype color-coded pediatric bag, one for basic life support ambulances and one for advanced life support ambulances. The primary purpose of the bags was to house all pediatric equipment in one place. By January 2005, more than half of the fire departments had at least one set of the pediatric bags. By December of that year, all Waukesha County ambulances had the pediatric bags thanks to a $24,000 grant the Oconomowoc Junior Woman’s Club received from a private foundation.

Alex Felde, president of the Waukesha County Fire Chiefs’ Association had this to say about the club: “It is rare to see a group so committed to the quality of prehospital care for children. They are based in Oconomowoc, but did not limit the scope of their project to their local firehouse. Instead, they took a macro view of the problem, and chose to tackle the issue from a countywide perspective.”

Their success at the county level has lead to a national endeavor. Today, Junior Women’s Clubs in more than 30 states have expressed interest in pursuing similar pediatric color-coded bag projects.

Lata Allen
2006 EMSC Project Coordinator of Distinction Award

The EMSC Project Coordinator of Distinction Award honors a person that has a comprehensive understanding of his or her state’s or territory’s EMSC-related issues, and has successfully integrated EMSC into the state or territory EMS programs for the long term. In addition, the recipient of this award must have excelled at collaborating with other organizations and developed an EMSC program or product that serves as a model for the nation.

For the past three years, Lata Allen has served as the EMSC project coordinator for American Samoa. Under her leadership, the program has partnered with local EMTs to provide bystander first aid to all 240 childcare providers on the island. They have conducted Risk Watch and bystander first aid workshops for all private and public school staff, and offered first aid training to teachers and bus drivers that work with children with special health care needs.

In addition to her work with school personnel, Lata has focused much of her energy and resources on provider education. She secured pediatric education for all ambulance personnel, and invited pediatricians to the island to present the Pediatric Advanced Life Support course to physicians and other hospital health care personnel.

Her good deeds continue with the high schools’ Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program. Last summer, during its one-week camp, Lata made it possible for ROTC cadets to receive bystander first aid and injury prevention safety training. American Samoa’s EMSC program also works with the territory’s Department of Highway Safety to promote proper seat belt and child car safety seat use.

Lata’s ability to find creative ways to overcome barriers to educating Islanders about EMSC issues led to one of her more well known endeavors, the EMSC program’s partnership with McDonalds to translate an injury prevention and first aide booklet into Samoan for distribution to families. Only in American Samoa can you see the golden arches and the blue EMSC bear on the same billboard. Lata has also worked with the Nebraska Poison Center to provide the first-ever poison help line for American Samoa.

Thanks to her hard work, the territory’s EMSC advisory committee is diverse and well-respected. It includes the Governor and a member of the local Fono.

Gary Brown
2006 Policymaker of Distinction Award

The State EMSC Policymaker of Distinction Award honors an individual who has been a state public official within the past five years; has advanced state legislation promoting EMSC programs or related measures; and has a statewide, regional, or national reputation for safeguarding the health and well-being of children.

For more than 25 years, Gary Brown has served the Commonwealth of Virginia as a state health department employee. In 1997, he was named Director of the Virginia Office of EMS. In that role, Gary’s support, guidance, and political savvy have ensured a place for EMSC at every level within the state. For example, Gary added an EMSC representative to the EMS Funding Task Force, to the Virginia Emergency Management Committee, and to the annual EMS Symposium Planning Committee.

He was instrumental in securing representation from the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics on the State EMS Advisory Board. In addition, he worked tirelessly to establish the EMSC Committee as a standing committee of the State EMS Advisory Board.

During the 2005 Virginia General Assembly session Gary spearheaded an initiative to get EMSC added as an objective in the State Emergency Medical Services Plan. This opened the door for EMSC to receive state funds for the first time in 2005.

Gary’s goal is to ensure that all states have EMSC as well-integrated and institutionalized as Virginia. Gary attends national EMSC Grantee Meetings, regional meetings, NEDARC-sponsored training, and has served as an EMSC grant reviewer on more than one occasion.

Enthusiasm, professionalism, and unparalleled personal integrity are just a few of the characteristics you can constantly expect from Gary Brown. However, he is a leader who never seeks the personal spotlight but has quietly persevered to increase public attention and awareness for EMSC programs and to ensure that state-of-the-art emergency medical care is available to children and adolescents throughout the state and the nation.