Acadian Companies held its annual luncheon at the Cajundome on Thursday, May 3, 2018, to recognize its paramedics and EMTs who display exemplary attitudes, tireless work ethic and dedication, and provide excellent patient care. From across the company’s Louisiana and Mississippi service areas, 18 finalists were nominated by their peers.

Paramedic Jerret Dunlap and EMT Taylor Walden have been selected as the 2018 medics of the year. Both honorees represent Acadian Ambulance’s Central Louisiana service area.

Jerret Dunlap found his passion for patient care when he joined the United States Navy, serving as a hospital corpsman and field medic in Iraq. After leaving the Navy, Dunlap wanted to remain in the medical field and went to work at Christus St. Frances Cabrini Hospital. Looking for a change, he decided to enroll in the EMT program at the National EMS Academy in Alexandria.

He began working at Acadian Ambulance as an EMT, then obtained his paramedic certification. He was promoted to Paramedic Field Supervisor and became a Critical Care Transport paramedic.

Dunlap’s peers say he is always there to help and has a true passion for patient care. He is also a great mentor to other medics, serving as a preceptor.

In his acceptance speech, Dunlap honored his colleagues and first responders in Alexandria, saying, “I accept this award today as Paramedic of the Year, but I accept it on behalf of the entire Central Louisiana community. During our nomination interviews, I was asked what separates me from everyone else nominated. I didn’t know how to answer that question. We are all made of flesh and bone. We all are paramedics. When I answered, I could only account for what has made me different as an individual—my life experiences and the awesome team that I work with on a day to day basis. From the communities that I grew up in, my partners on the unit, and the first responders, fire department and police I work with day to day.”

Mamou, Louisiana, native Taylor Walden was raised with strong family values. He began a career in the oil and gas industry, but followed a career change so he could spend more time with his wife and children.

Walden was nominated due to his drive, passion and striving to be better tomorrow than he is today. Family, faith and hard work are the foundations of his life, and these traits are very evident in his work at Acadian. He is currently enrolled at the National EMS Academy to become a paramedic.

Walden thanked the company and his wife, parents and paramedic partner in his acceptance speech. He looked to the future of Acadian, saying, “Through due diligence, the strength, stability and longevity of Acadian can be sustained and continue to succeed. As a younger employee, I encourage my fellow younger employees to become familiar with the sacrifices older long-term employees have made to build Acadian Ambulance into the company it is today.  Taking those actions into consideration, we can take the company to the next level.”

Regional honorees included Capital District Paramedic Justin Crochet and EMT John Dunbar; Northshore Paramedic Joseph Sanchez and Aaron Brock; Orleans Paramedic Christian Wild and EMT Shakeela Polite; Bayou Region Paramedic Carlo Gagliano and EMT Ranada Staples; Hub City Paramedic Michael Burley and EMT Macie Guillotte; Southwest Louisiana Paramedic Jared Dennis and EMT Adam Leger; Acadian Air Med Paramedic Sherri Wells; and Safety Management Systems Remote Paramedic Jason Hawkshead.

Senator Fred Mills Jr. served again this year as master of ceremonies and David Brown, retired Dallas chief of police, was the keynote speaker. Diocese of Lafayette Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel offered the invocation.

Acadian Companies Chairman & CEO Richard Zuschlag shared his appreciation for everyone involved in the luncheon and in Acadian’s success, from long-time employees and community supporters to the spouses, partners and families of employees. “Our employee-owners continue to help us grow throughout all of our diverse divisions. I want to thank all of the Acadian employees for their hard work, dedication, professionalism and loyalty. Their loved ones also play an important role in supporting their efforts,” he said.

Acadian Ambulance is one of the largest ambulance services in the nation, offering emergency and non-emergency transportation to areas in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi.

Since 1971, Acadian Companies has been dedicated to providing the highest level of emergency medical care and transportation possible. The company has expanded to include a diverse suite of services designed to offer the very best support and education in health, safety, security, education and transportation.