Acadian Ambulance Service presented Paramedic Heather Waites and EMT Ryan Wilkenfeld with the Distinguished Service Award for their heroic efforts on February 17, 2021, in Port Arthur, Texas. The award, which has been awarded less than a dozen times in Acadian’s 49-year history, recognizes medics who perform actions considered above and beyond the call of duty.
Waites and Wilkenfeld received the award for their life-saving response to a traffic accident they witnessed during a medical transport during the historic February ice storm.
While transporting a non-critical patient, a vehicle passed their ambulance. The vehicle’s driver lost control on the icy highway, flipped and landed overturned in the median filled with ice and freezing water. The crew pulled off the road to render aid and summoned for additional units to respond. Wilkenfeld recalls his response, stating, “I reacted by instinct and knew that Heather had my back.”
While awaiting backup, Waites and Wilkenfeld began extrication and successfully rescued four patients. The crew then re-entered the vehicle to find an infant submerged in the water, unresponsive. Waites immediately began providing resuscitation efforts while Wilkenfeld continued to assess and provide care for the other four patients. In a short period of time, the infant began breathing and regained a pulse.
Due to harsh weather and icy road conditions, the crew made the decision to transport all patients involved to the Medical Center of Southeast Texas, which was less than two miles from the accident. The child was stabilized and later transferred to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. Due to the Acadian medic’s actions, the child is in good health and expected to make a full recovery with no deficits.
“I am honored to stand and work alongside all first responders and am accepting this award on their behalf for the courageous work they do on a daily basis.” stated Waiters when presented with the Distinguished Service Award.