Each year the Oklahoma Ambulance Association (OKAMA) honors the ambulance professionals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in service to their communities or the EMS profession at their annual Stars of Life Banquet. This year, two LifeNet employees were recognized for their accomplishments in EMS during the banquet held at the Oklahoma History Center on May 22.
LifeNet Medical Director Patrick Cody, D.O. was presented with the H. Stephen Williamson Excellence in EMS Award.
“This is not going to be an annual award. This will only be when we recognize somebody who has done something extraordinary within the emergency medical service field,” said Greg Reid, President Elect of OKAMA, as he presented the award. “I think he does two things that are excellence in EMS. He inspires a culture of wanting to learn and improve what they know, and he inspires physicians to want to be engaged with their ambulance service.”
In addition to being the medical director for LifeNet EMS in Payne County, Dr. Cody also serves as the medical director for three other EMS services, several fire departments, a communication center, and multiple special teams. He also created a residency program at Norman Regional Hospital.
“One of the things the board thinks is very special about that is in his residency program he is working with these future emergency medicine physicians to teach them the importance of being engaged with their EMS,” said Reid.
The award came as a surprise to Dr. Cody, who held back tears of appreciation while giving his acceptance speech at the podium.
“It is truly an honor, truly a surprise,” said Patrick Cody, D.O. upon learning he had received the award. “For a variety of reasons, maybe because I grew up with an ambulance in my driveway, EMS has always been near and dear to me. To be honest, there are days I am sitting in the ER wishing I could go outside and play with my colleagues. For those of you who work every day in the streets, everything I do EMS related is for all of you. I really appreciate it.”
LifeNet EMT Hunter Poston was also honored during the OKAMA banquet for being selected as the 2019 Star of Life for LifeNet EMS in Payne County, Oklahoma.
A 2013 graduate of Perkins-Tryon High School, Poston always knew he wanted to do something in emergency medicine, but it was not until college that he realized a career in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) was a possibility.
“I didn’t really think of EMS as an option in high school. I took a pre-nursing course called Health Careers during my junior and senior years in high school at Meridian Technology Center,” Poston said. “I went to Northern Oklahoma College and got my associate degree in health services technology. I was originally going to go into nursing with thoughts of becoming an ER nurse. After completing my courses at Meridian Technology Center, I decided nursing wasn’t for me.”
During his last semester of college, Hunter enrolled in an EMT class and fell in love with EMS.
“I loved the class and going on the clinicals with EMSA,” he said. “I really enjoyed being out in the community and seeing different people of different walks of life. It was really interesting, so I stuck with it.”
A native of Stillwater, Oklahoma, Poston hoped to get a job with LifeNet EMS after he earned his EMT certification, but the company was not hiring at the time. So he took a job offer with Life EMS in Enid, Oklahoma, where he kicked off his career. Three months later, when LifeNet did their next round of hiring, Hunter took a full-time role working in his hometown while continuing to work part-time for Life EMS.
Poston started paramedic school in 2018 and will graduate in July 2019. He was awarded the Spring 2018 Oklahoma Rural Scholarship to use towards his education at Kiamichi Tech Centers – Poteau. In return, he has agreed to work for at least two years in a rural or under-served area of Oklahoma.
Poston was nominated by his peers to be LifeNet EMS’s 2019 Star of Life in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
“Hunter is extremely dedicated to caring for his community and gives his heart and soul to this,” a colleague wrote in a nomination letter. “He is in the process of completing paramedic school while still working full time to further provide the best care he can to those in need and is in the top of his class.”
After receiving the nomination, Poston was then selected for the award by former Stars of Life and the management team at LifeNet. In June, he will travel to Washington D.C. to represent LifeNet EMS during the American Ambulance Stars of Life Celebration.