Several emergency responders were awarded for outstanding service to their communities at The Colonnade in Ringgold, Georgia on March 16th during the 2017 Northwest Georgia Region 1 Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Council Awards Banquet.


The banquet is held each year to honor Emergency Medical Services providers and stakeholders from Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Dade, Fannin, Floyd, Gilmer, Gordon, Haralson, Murray, Paulding, Pickens, Polk, Walker and Whitfield Counties for excellence in pre-hospital care, education, pioneering and special achievements.


The 2017 Northwest Georgia Region 1 EMS Awards were presented as follows:


  • Special Recognition: Air Medical Personnel


  • EMS Region 1 Person of the Year – “The ONE”: Lana Duff, Operations Manager at Angel EMS


  • David Loftin Pediatric Call of the Year: Aaron Gaddis and Eric Mantooth of Hamilton EMS, Whitfield County


  • Tommy Gayler Medical Call of the Year: Josh Everett and James Morris of Metro Atlanta Ambulance Service, Paulding County


  • Richard A Gray Excellence in Trauma Award: Andrew Burnette, Cathy Green and Aaron Freeman of Gilmer County Fire and Rescue


  • James H Creel, JR. Pioneer of the Year: Tony Cooper of Floyd EMS, based in Rome, Georgia


  • Virginia Hamilton Special Achievement Award: Dr. Rashi Gupta of Kennestone Medical Center and Dennis Kelly of Puckett EMS, North Georgia Division


  • Mike Miller EMS Educator of the Year: Claudio Leyssens of Georgia Northwestern Technical College


  • Stanley Payne EMS Leadership Award: Carlton Firestone of AMBUCARE EMS, Haralson County


  • EMS Region 1 EMT of the Year: Samantha Kimball of AMBUCARE EMS, Haralson County


  • Danny Hall Memorial Paramedic of Year: Tracy Turner of Bartow County EMS


  • Region 1 EMS Service of the Year: Floyd EMS, based in Rome, Georgia


  • Paul Nassour Lifetime Achievement Award: Don Taylor of Region 1 Honor Guard, Floyd EMS, based in Rome, Georgia


Many council members, loved ones, friends and associates were on hand to offer support to the award recipients for their achievements and well-deserved recognition.


Congratulations to all award recipients for their outstanding service to their communities.





description and criteria for each award:


Dr. James H Creel, JR. Pioneer of the Year – Dr. James Creel was instrumental in creating the Georgia EMS System in Northwest Georgia and has served as a regional medical director for Region 1 and Hutcheson Medical Center during his distinguished career.


Dr. Virginia Hamilton Special Achievement Award – Dr. Hamilton was the health director for District 1-1of the Georgia Department of Public Health during the early years of EMS, and she helped shape the EMS role within public health and the community.


David Loftin Pediatric Call of the Year – David Loftin served at the Region 1 Office of EMS for 30 years, starting as a grant writer, who wrote the federal grants to create the system. Loftin retired in 2010 as the regional director. He was instrumental in creating both Safe Kids and EMS for children’s groups around the region and was a pioneer in getting care seat programs established to serve families in securing  babies properly for travel in vehicles.


Dr. Richard A Gray excellence in trauma award – Dr. Gray was the first trauma surgeon in the first trauma center designated in Georgia –Floyd Medical Center in Rome. He was hired by the Regional EMS Project to establish a region wide trauma system, and in doing so, he oversaw the development of a network of three trauma centers in the region and the establishment of rapid air ambulance services to transport the more complicated cases to trauma centers in Chattanooga and Atlanta. Taken from this life in 2010, Dr. Gray was a great surgeon and an even better human being.


Tommy Gayler Medical Call of the Year – Tommy Gayler was a paramedic, firefighter, flight nurse, educator and emergency department nurse. He was as an educator, training EMS services on 12-lead EKGs and tPAs (tissue plasminogen activators), enabling them to save heart muscle in patients with heart attacks.  This concept eventually

evolved into the race to cardiac catheterization labs called the STEMI program. He was involved in this transition, which has led to many lives being saved and to a better quality of life for heart attack patients. Gayler passed away in 2014, but he is remembered for his many contributions to EMS.


Danny Hall Memorial Paramedic of Year – Danny Hall excelled as a firefighter and a paramedic, having served in both Murray and Floyd Counties. He endlessly taught cardiac, trauma and pediatric courses throughout the entire region in order to pass his knowledge to others. He was recognized and admired by the people he supervised everywhere he worked. He always set the bar high and everyone was eager to follow his example. Hall was devoted to rendering the highest level of care to all of his patients and had a will of iron but a heart of gold. He served on the EMS council for years and was unfortunately taken early in death.


Mike Miller EMS Educator of the Year – Mike Miller was a paramedic for Floyd Medical Center EMS and Polk County EMS, but he is best known as the first paramedic instructor at Coosa Valley Technical School, now Georgia Northwestern Technical College. He trained most of the paramedics who were the first paramedics for their services in the southern part of Region 1. He served in the Region 1 Office of EMS & Trauma as a regional training coordinator and addressed the problem of low pass rates for Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) courses in the region. His students said that he was the single best instructor they had ever experienced. Miller passed away in 1993 but will always be remembered.


Stanley Payne EMS Leadership Award – Stanley Payne was one of the first three employees of Floyd Hospital Ambulance Service in 1966 after having worked for years at a local funeral home answering ambulance calls. He rose to become the director of the service and under his leadership advanced life support was established; Payne had a talent at improving the design of ambulances and some of his improvements were adopted by ambulance manufacturers which continued to use to this day. His leadership talents were recognized state-wide and he served multiple terms as the Chairman of the Region 1 EMS Council and Georgia’s EMS advisory council. He was known for his benevolence to his employees and the poor of Floyd County – especially children. Payne passed away in 2004.


Dr. Paul Nassour Lifetime Achievement Award – Dr. Paul “Nasty” Nassour was one of the founding fathers of EMS in Region 1. He was the medical director for many EMS, Fire and Police agencies, including Bartow County EMS and Hutcheson Medical Center EMS. He also served several years as the Region 1 Office of EMS & Trauma Medical Director. He put himself through medical school by working the oil rigs in Louisiana during the summers. He received help from no one. He worked long hours at many of the emergency departments around the region during his career, where his compassionate care and skilled hands cared for the people of those communities. He did all these things out of his lifelong desire to help people. Not only was he a physician, but he was also a mentor and educator to many EMS personnel, region wide. However, he is best remembered as the guardian angel of health for public safety personnel, as he always took care of them and their families when they were sick. Dr. Nassour passed away in March of 2015 and the Region 1 Lifetime Achievement Award was renamed in his honor.


Other awards Presented:


EMT of the Year – This award is presented to an Emergency Medical Technician who displays above average skills, attitude, servitude and leadership, as well as other criteria.


EMS Service of the Year – This is presented to the EMS Agency whose nomination scores highest on 11 criteria that includes standards, protocols, violations, innovation and community service, to name a few.


Special Recognition – Each year a special group of providers are collectively recognized for their service. Past recipients have been the Dinosaurs of EMS (30+ yrs of service), Pioneering Women of EMS (20+ yrs of service) and the Region 1 EMS Honor Guard.


EMS Person of the Year – “The ONE” – Selected by the Region 1 Office of EMS & Trauma Regional Director, the recipient of this award is the person who has been the most instrumental in assisting with regional projects during the past year.