Valina Ramsey was named EMT of the Year and Chris Gudaitis was named Paramedic of the Year by the State of Georgia EMS division after being nominated by the director of Georgia operations for Pucket EMS, Jake Lonus.
Lonus operates out of the Pucket EMS headquarters in Austell alongside both Ramsey and Gudaitis.
Puckett EMS is a provider of ambulance services. Lonus said Georgia is divided into 10 EMS regions. Region III covers metro Atlanta, including Cobb, and receives more calls than any other region.
The awards are given yearly to recognize professionals who have demonstrated “exemplary performance,” Lonus said.
“I was very humbled and flattered to receive the award not only for myself and Puckett EMS, but also for all my colleagues that are doing the same thing day in and day out,” Ramsey said.
Lonus said Ramsey, who has been with Puckett EMS for about three years, is not only knowledgeable in her skill set, but goes out into the community to teach CPR and deliver food with Meals On Wheels.
“The stuff that she does outside the normal daily activity, really sets her apart,” Lonus said.
Ramsey was first exposed to emergency medicine while serving on medical mission trips around the world. Less than a week after accepting the honor, Ramsey was flying to Tanzania for a charity climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Gudaitis, who has been with Puckett EMS for four years, set an example for commitment to patient care on a call where he had to adapt to a crisis, Lonus said.
Gudaitis and his partner were transporting a patient in active cardiac arrest — meaning a heart attack was in progress — when the ambulance failed and stopped over 500 yards from the hospital.
The paramedics jumped out of the ambulance at the bottom of a hill with full gear and carried the patient on the stretcher uphill in the sun to the emergency department.
Once they arrived in the emergency department, the patient’s heart stopped beating and Gudaitis stayed with the emergency room staff and brought the patient back to life.
“It is easy to see why he was selected this year,” Lonus said. “For all he does to make sure he is ready to perform at his best every time he puts on his uniform, people can’t help but notice his dedication.”
Lonus said Gudaitis was able to use critical thinking to make a “command decision” in a high-pressured situation.
“When you have a critical patient, you know time is of the essence,” Lonus said, but he admits the paramedics could have waited for another unit to arrive.
“That is just Chris: taking care of others, thinking outside the box,” Lonus said.