Acadian Ambulance honored its 2021 Paramedic and EMT of the Year and celebrated its 50th anniversary in a virtual event on Thursday, November 18. The keynote address was presented by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards.
The program was scheduled to be held in person on September 1, the company’s 50th anniversary, but due to the August spike in COVID-19 cases and the landfall of Hurricane Ida, the event was postponed.
The company recognized 2021 Paramedic of the Year, Thomas Sumrall of Lafayette, LA, and EMT of the Year, Jonathan Cody Sides of Memphis, TN.
Sumrall, a native of New Iberia, Louisiana, has been with Acadian Ambulance for six years. He currently serves as a Critical Care Paramedic and is stationed in Lafayette, Louisiana. He earned his EMT certification in 2014, his paramedic certification in 2016 and his Critical Care Transport certification in 2017. He is a field training officer for new hires. He has served on Acadian’s Safety Wellness Awareness Team and uniform committee.
Even with all the hats that he wears, Sumrall does an amazing job. He volunteers for extra shifts, as well as extended deployments to other areas to assist with acquisitions, disasters, strike teams and staffing needs.
Sumrall is a solid paramedic and strong advocate for his patients and coworkers. He has a positive attitude and remarkable work ethic, works honestly and is compassionate.
Outside of Acadian, Sumrall has served in the Air Force Reserve as a medic since 2018, in which he has completed a tour and received multiple awards. He is also working toward his bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Management.
Sides is a native of Memphis, Tennessee, and joined Acadian Ambulance in 2020 as an A-EMT. He exhibits great patient care and a professional bedside manner. He always has a contagiously positive attitude and is never without a smile on his face or a kind word. He demonstrates remarkable skills as a leader, medic, employee and mentor.
Sides never hesitates to pick up extra shifts or responsibilities and consistently seeks out opportunities to learn more about medicine and EMS to better benefit his patients. He has provided personnel support to Acadian’s Houston service area and provided transport for many children to St. Jude Children’s Hospital from places all over the country.
Growing up, Sides was a Boy Scout and Eagle Scout, which led him to volunteer to serve as one of Acadian’s Explorer post advisors in Memphis. He has also served in the United States Navy, where he earned numerous awards, certifications and service medals. He earned an AAS degree in Paramedicine earlier this year.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards presented the keynote speech, reflecting on Acadian’s history and impact on its communities.
“Acadian’s story is one of perseverance, combined with compassion, diversity, innovation and dedication. This combination has led to unprecedented growth and success of which you should all be very proud. Since 1971, you’ve never shut your doors, dimmed the lights or unplugged the phone, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That’s a story, that’s a legacy, that’s Acadian,” Edwards said.
Edwards also recognized Acadian’s support and logistical teams working behind the scenes to make the entire company successful.
As part of the company’s 50th anniversary, the webcast featured clips of keynote speakers from previous years, including former Presidents George HW Bush and George W Bush, NFL star Peyton Manning, Journalist Bob Arnot and former US Navy Seal Rob O’Neill, among others.
Chairman & CEO Richard Zuschlag said, “Acadian is so much more than one person, our three founders or our thousands of employees over the years. Acadian is the result of many people coming together for the cause of caring for their neighbors. The support we had over the years from thousands of government, civic and healthcare leaders – coupled with the dedication, hard work and commitment of our employee-owners, built Acadian.”