SVAA Awards

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The Suffield Volunteer Ambulance Association Awards Banquet was held on March 23, 2024. Chief John Spencer recognized several guests, including Chief Scott Cunningham of the Suffield Fire Department, highlighting the ever-increasing cooperation between the organizations, as well as the Board of Trustees, the crucial fundraising arm of the organization which taps into the generosity of the townspeople to support the SVAA.

The chief noted the medical advances being made, including the expansion of the potentially lifesaving ultrasounds program. He noted that the group continues to be visible in the community during events, CPR training, and maintaining the AEDs throughout the town. And, with deserved pride he noted that the organization’s patient experience surveys reflected an extraordinary rolling rating of 97.81, 4.3 points higher than the national average.

The event then turned to selecting some members for particular recognition, starting with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The organization’s highest level of honor, this award is reserved for a member who has shown a tireless desire to regularly go above and beyond. This year’s recipient, Barbara Daley, has been a constant presence since 2007. Generally working behind the scenes ,she spends countless hours as a Board Member and Volunteer Treasurer, keeping the books balanced and the bills paid, and overseeing investments to fiscally protect the organization’s future.

The Years of Service recognitions honored those with 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and even 30 years (Diane Seger) of service. Turning to the named awards, the Christopher Schmeck Award honoring an individual for consistent performance to enhance the SVAA organization went to Scott Waddell. With the organization for just under 20 years, Waddell has been involved with the explorer organization, groomed EMT’s, and frequently volunteered to have rides and mentor new providers. He worked on the patient advocate team and is frequently present during large events and neighborhood open houses.

The Perreault Award, presented to a member for service beyond the ordinary went to Jaclyn Ellis. With the association since 2020, Ellis displays boundless energy and is supremely dependable despite a hectic work schedule on a full-time job. She has worked on the organization’s membership engagement committee, suggesting new and exciting ideas to keep the membership engaged. She is a constant presence at community events, always with a smile on her face.

Zak Award – The Zak Award is given to any member who demonstrates service to the public beyond the ordinary. They must be a member in good standing and should demonstrate exemplary service both to the town and SVAA. Paul Muska, the honoree, has been with the Association since 2019, starting as an EMR and quickly progressing to EMT. Muska is consistently willing to cover shifts in addition to his own weekly evening shift. He has advanced to the level of an FTO for the Association, taking pride in helping new members get acclimated. He is a member and past president of the Suffield Rotary Club and helped obtain a grant for climate-controlled AED cabinets to be installed in the community.

Directors’ Award – This award is given by the Board of Directors to a member who has advanced the goals of the organization. It is intended to honor service within the area of outreach to the membership or community. This year’s awardee, Mark Arbogast, was chosen for his dedication helping to ensure the success of our summer EMT program. Also, this past summer Arbogast volunteered his time and helped teach over 25% of the course on his own, and assisted further as needed.

Officers’ Award – This award is given to a member who, in the opinion of the Operations Officers of the Association, has contributed to the welfare of the organization in standard activities. The recipient is an active member during the previous 12-month period, who exemplifies the ideals of the SVAA, and contributes to the attainment of the SVAA’s mission and vision. This year’s awardee was chosen for her unwavering commitment to advancing the Association and being a constant advocate for her fellow providers. A member since 2020, Jaclyn Ellis, is always willing to pick up hours despite her full-time commitments and has recently become an FTO and a driving instructor.

Greatest Number of Volunteer Hours – Each year we recognize the volunteer who resides in town, and the volunteer who resides outside of town with the greatest number of volunteer hours. In 2023 these two volunteers contributed a combined 1,910 hours to the Association. And those hours are based solely on time on “the truck” and don’t take into account the many hours performing critical ancillary duties. Jacob Audet was recognized as the out-of-town with the greatest number of hours while the in-town volunteer with the greatest number of hours is Donald Miner.

Rising Star Award – This award signifies and highlights the achievements of a new member who is quickly rising among the ranks and stands out among their peers. This year’s Rising Star was Don Delage.

Chiefs Citations. This recognized two extraordinary calls. The first involved a significant motor vehicle accident with a burning tractor trailer on fire and a person requiring extrication. Working with the SFD, the responding members, Jacob Audet and Cameron Wood rapidly extricated the patient who was suffering from life threatening injuries. Unable to cross the bridge due to the accident, knowing that the patient required immediate paramedic intervention, they improvised, travelling south to Hartford Hospital while requesting a paramedic intercept from Windsor Locks Ambulance. Due to their quick actions and thinking the patient made a full recovery.

In July, this crew responded to West Suffield following a report of a patient experiencing chest pain. When the crew arrived, the patient indicated that the pain was subsiding, and he was contemplating refusing care. Recognizing that the patient remained at risk, they continued to persuade the patient to be evaluated, due to his medical history. The patient was then extricated via a stair chair despite the patient’s desire to walk. Once in the ambulance the patient again began experiencing a sudden onset of chest pain which again subsided. The crew arrived at the hospital with the Cath Lab team awaiting them, but while enroute upstairs the patient suffered sudden cardiac arrest. Fortunately, the patient underwent a successful device placement within 28 minutes of arrival at the hospital, and within 85 minutes after initial patient contact. The patient enjoyed a successful recovery and was soon discharged. The crew, Jaclyn Ellis, Andrew Romaniuk and Robert Edmonds were applauded for their efforts on this call.

Photo by Jacqueline Guzzi
L-R Jacob Audet. Chief Spencer, Cameron Wood
Photo by Jacqueline Guzzi
L-R Jacklynn Ellis with Chief Specer
Photo by Amy Reay
L-R Don Miner with Chief Spencer
Photo by Rebeca Spencer
L-R Chief John Spencer, Barbara Daley, Tim Daley [Husband], Jacqueline Guzzi

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