Boston EMS Hosts Annual Awards Banquet During National EMS Week

BOSTON – May 25, 2023 – Boston EMS held its annual awards banquet in-person for the first time since 2019 at the Venezia Restaurant in Dorchester last evening. Over one hundred Boston EMS personnel were honored for their bravery, dedication, and lifesaving care, between the years of 2019 through 2022. Additionally, 44 former members were celebrated for their retirement, and another 75 for years of service milestones.

Mayor Michelle Wu joined Chief of Department James Hooley, Boston EMS Medical Director, Dr. Sophia Dyer, and Boston Public Health Commission Executive Director, Dr. Bisola Ojikutu to present awards for the heroic actions associated with two notable incidents, including Medal of Honor recipient Captain Anthony O'Brien and Medal of Valor awardees MacKenzie Mills and Cassandra Cohen. These awards are given to members who, at the risk of their own lives, go above and beyond the call of duty.

"Our Boston EMTs embody what it means to be public servants through their dedication to providing lifesaving services and compassionate care whenever they get a call, said Mayor Michelle Wu. "I'm so grateful and proud to celebrate all of our awardees honored this National EMS Week."

The program was emceed by John Tobin, former Boston City Councilor and current Northeastern University Vice President of City and Community Affairs, who led the audience through stories of personnel caring for those who were entrapped at construction sites, rescuing patients off window ledges, de-escalating volatile scenes, evacuating families from a burning building, and saving drowning swimmers.

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Members of Boston EMS answered the call for over 134,000 clinical incidents in 2022, they vaccinated over 2,000 individuals in 2021, and they cared for more than 10,000 confirmed positive COVID-19 patients since 2020. Personnel have gone above and beyond, rising to the challenge and performing their duties with unwavering commitment.

"After the last four years, serving the rising needs of our community, it was a momentous evening focused on honoring our own," remarked Chief of Department Jim Hooley.

Boston EMS personnel have also adapted to the evolving role of Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics over the years, with the department piloting a 9-1-1 call transfer to a telehealth emergency physician in 2020 at the onset of the pandemic, operating over 40 community vaccination clinics and, after being the first EMS in the state to secure approval for Mobile Integrated Health Care Emergency Department Avoidance (MIH), has deployed two new service models. In October of 2022, Boston EMS launched the option for eligible and interested 9-1-1 behavioral health incident callers to be transferred directly to a behavioral health clinician for phone-based consultation and referral services. This new service is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week. This summer, Boston EMS plans to launch a new response unit jointly staffed with a Boston EMS EMT and Boston Emergency Services Team (BEST) behavioral health clinician.

In addition to honoring EMS personnel, last night's awards banquet served as an opportunity to recognize some notable partners, including four individuals from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), led by Justin Steil, Associate Professor of Law and Urban Planning, who advanced Boston EMS' analytic capacity through the establishment of a research fellowship in 2020. Also recognized was David Carabin, Director of the Boston Regional Intelligence Center, for supporting personnel safety and medical preparedness.

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This year's awards banquet coincides with National EMS Week (May 21-27), which recognizes the important work EMS personnel do in safeguarding the health, safety, and wellbeing of their communities. Several iconic buildings and landmarks in Boston, including Boston City Hall, the John Hancock Building, the Tobin Bridge, and Zakim Bridge, as well as Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, were lit up last night in orange and blue to pay tribute to the work of Boston EMS and EMS providers across New England.

The Boston Public Health Commission and the City of Boston are proud to recognize and honor Boston EMS.

"The work of Boston EMS personnel is central to advancing health equity across the city of Boston," said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. "As first responders, they are often people's gateway into our health care system. The compassion and attention they provide to patients in their most dire moments is a testament to their importance to our city."

The banquet concluded with four Chief of Department awards, given to Lieutenants Michael Hurley and Terry Mentele, and EMTs Nashira Williams and Celestina Harewood. Chief Jim Hooley selected these members for their positive approach to the challenging work, their willingness to adapt to evolving patient needs and forms of care, and their commitment to supporting and advancing other members of the department. Chief Hooley concluded the evening acknowledging those covering field and dispatch operations, ensuring all awardees who wished to attend were able to get the night off.

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