The EMS for Children State Partnership, Texas, presented Acadian Ambulance Paramedic Heather Waites and EMT Ryan Wilkenfeld with the 2021 Crew of the Year award. The award honors the crew’s life-saving response to a traffic accident they witnessed during the historic ice storm in February 2021.
The presentation was held virtually on May 19 with members of the EMS for Children State Partnership including Program Manager Samuel Vance, members of Acadian Ambulance and the crew’s family members. It was scheduled in conjunction with EMS for Children Day, a focus of National EMS Week.
Dr. Brian Bassham of Texas Children’s Hospital said, “The crew that we’re recognizing today is the perfect example of what EMS and emergency providers can do and how they can positively impact the communities they serve.”
Texas Department of State Health Services State EMS Director Joe Schmider said, “You made such a difference that day. This child is here today because of your actions. This family is celebrating, not mourning, and that is a great thing. Thank you for your dedication to Texas, our country and your company. We are honored to be a part of this celebration. After this, you’ll get back on the truck and get back to work and do what you do every single day.”
Waites and Wilkenfeld were transporting a non-critical patient as 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. They began extrication and successfully rescued four patients before reentering the vehicle to find an infant submerged in the water and 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.
Today, the infant is in good health and has made a full recovery with no deficits.
Acadian Texas Medical Director Dr. Emily Kidd said, “Heather and Ryan, without your quick thinking and action and willingness to put yourselves in harm’s way, this infant would not have had the same outcome. Thank you, not only for the amazing job that you did that day, but the amazing job you do every day.”