Rowan EMS workers earn first place distinction

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Two workers with Rowan County Emergency Services have captured a state championship, and it's not the first major recognition for this team.

Rowan EMS Director Frank Thomason provided WBTV with his remarks presented at the Rowan County Commission meeting acknowledging the accomplishments of Aaron Thurston and Daniel Medina:

The North Carolina Paramedic Competition was first held in 1991. Sponsored by the North Carolina Office of EMS and the NC College of Emergency Physicians, the competition is designed to identify the "Best" Paramedic team in the State. I am pleased to officially share with you that Rowan County's team for 2014 has been awarded this distinction.

The path to being named Champions begins with regional competitions. No more than 50 teams are considered for the regional rounds. The teams must be comprised of 2 members (paramedics) that are employed by the same agency. These teams are divided into five groups and assigned a specific preliminary competition site. There is no correlation between the home base of the teams and the site choice. Each team is judged in three areas at the preliminary site: Professionalism, Knowledge (didactic) and Knowledge (Performance).

A winner and alternate are selected from each site with the winner advancing to the Competition and the alternate serving in a stand by role in the event the winning team cannot attend.

The Competition is held annually in conjunction with the NC Office of EMS sponsored Emergency Medicine Today Conference, usually on the first weekend in October. Emergency Medicine Today is regarded as the statewide training and administration event attended by all levels of EMS providers statewide. The Paramedic Competition is traditionally held on the Sunday before the official opening of the conference on Monday. Results are announced on Tuesday evening at the annual banquet.

The previous year's champions are granted an automatic bid to the final competition and added to the 5 preliminary winners. The order of competition for the six teams is decided by random drawing. The returning champions have the choice to be the first team or participate in the drawing. The teams are sequestered prior to the beginning of the competition and remain so until they have finished their performance based scenario. This final competition is based on the performance in that scenario and perceived professionalism.

The competition judges all have backgrounds in Emergency Medicine and are not affiliated with any NC agency.

Rowan County Emergency Services EMS Division team members are Aaron Thurston and Daniel Medina. Paramedic Thurston holds a credential from the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians at the Paramedic level and serves the EMS Division as a Field Training Officer. Paramedic Medina is also credentialed by the National Registry and works part time for the Division. Aaron is a veteran of the Paramedic Competition having competed in local and regional events since 2005. With a different teammate, Aaron was previously named as an alternate twice before. Dan got his first experience in competition when he and Aaron teamed up in 2012.

In their first preliminary round appearance as a team they were assigned to compete in Region 4 at Wake Technical Community College. They emerged victorious as the 2012 Region 4 Champions and advanced to Greensboro. However, they were not successful in capturing the championship. In 2013, the team of Thurston and Medina competed in Region 2 at Surry Community College again being named Regional Champions. Although they had an impressive performance in Greensboro they were again unsuccessful in capturing the title.

For 2014 they were assigned Region 3 and the site of Fayetteville Technical Community College for the preliminary round, again emerging victorious as Regional Champions and advancing to the finals in Greensboro.

On Tuesday evening each team and an administrator from their respective agency was called to a stage in front of a crowd exceeding 1000 of their peers. Each participant and the agency received a plaque commemorating their participation in the Regional Competition.

After each team was introduced and properly recognized, with much fanfare, Aaron Thurston and Dan Medina, representing Rowan County Emergency Services EMS Division were named 2014 State Champions. Each team member and the agency will receive additional individual plaques noting the status of "2014 State Champion".

In addition, the agency received a large plaque to display for the Championship year. That plaque contains the names of the previous 23 winning teams as well as the 2014 Champions. The plaque is now full and will be retired at the end of the current Championship year. The team's goal is to be the last name on the current plaque and the first name on the new one.