2023 EMS Excellence in Service Awards Winners

Awards, WEMSA Updates,
Wisconsin EMS Association® (WEMSA®) honors 2023 EMS Excellence in Service Awards Winners

Contact: Alan DeYoung, Executive Director Wisconsin EMS Association
26422 Oakridge Dr.
Wind Lake, WI 53185
P: 414-431-8193

Wind Lake, WI — The Wisconsin EMS Association® is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2023 EMS Excellence in Service Awards. The awards will be presented during the Wisconsin EMS Association’s Conference and Expo on Wednesday, January 31, 2024 at the Resch Expo in Green Bay, WI.

"I am deeply inspired by our honorees. Their extraordinary dedication and resilience highlight their capacity to surpass the demands of their roles," expressed Tony Lash, NREMT-P, President of the WEMSA Board of Directors.

"In an era where the spotlight on Emergency Services is more crucial than ever, we are thrilled to honor our award recipients. Their unwavering commitment and exceptional service exemplify their ability to exceed expectations and persevere through challenges. And this is a challenging time for EMS." stated Alan DeYoung, Executive Director of WEMSA.

We congratulate the following recipients and recognize their exceptional contributions to the EMS profession and the communities they serve.

John Frydenlund2023 WEMSA Lifetime Achievement - John Frydenlund - Albany Area EMS

The Wisconsin EMS Association (WEMSA) proudly presents the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award to John Frydenlund, a loyal member of Albany Area EMS since its inception in 1975. With a remarkable career spanning nearly 50 years, John's unwavering dedication and commitment to the field of emergency medical services (EMS) exemplifies the very essence of EMS in small-town communities.

John Frydenlund's journey with Albany Area EMS began in its early days, and he has remained an active and integral member ever since. His commitment goes beyond the call of duty, with John regularly dedicating over 150 hours each month to on-call responsibilities, training sessions, and community events, as well as annual attendance at the WEMSA conference.

Having witnessed the evolution of EMS over the decades, John has embraced change with enthusiasm, often saying, "I am old, and old dogs can learn new tricks." He takes great joy in welcoming newcomers, or as he affectionately calls them, "the new kids," into the service. John serves as a mentor, answering questions, providing guidance, and offering support during challenging calls. He is a dedicated advocate for new EMTs and goes to great lengths to ensure their success.

John Frydenlund embodies the spirit of EMS through representing selflessness, community care, and a positive attitude. He may not speak loudly, but his words hold great value, and his sense of humor brings light to every situation. With almost fifty years of outstanding service, John shows no intention of slowing down and continues to dedicate his life to Albany Area EMS.

John's commitment and journey represent a lifetime of service to his community and to EMS, have earned him the esteemed WEMSA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Susan Blaedow2023 WEMSA Educator of the Year - Susan Blaedow - Lake Country Fire Rescue & Waukesha County Technical College

Susan Blaedow, the lead instructor at Lake Country Training Center for EMS programs, has been awarded the Educator of the Year by the Wisconsin EMS Association (WEMSA) for her exceptional contributions to EMS education. With a career spanning over thirty years in EMS instruction and one year of teaching at Lake Country Training Center, Susan's impact on students and staff alike has been truly inspirational.

During her tenure at Lake Country Training Center, Susan has been a beacon of inspiration for students and staff members alike. Her passion and unwavering dedication to EMS education have left an unforgettable mark on the institution. Despite her relatively short time as an instructor at Lake Country, Susan is well-known to the staff, having established herself as a pillar of EMS education within Waukesha County.

Susan's commitment to her students is evident through her high expectations and determination to ensure that her students become the kind of EMS providers she would trust to care for her own family. Her passion extends not only to teaching EMS but also to nurturing the growth and development of her students. Susan leads by example and collaborates seamlessly with the instructional staff, fostering a culture of mutual respect and excellence within the Training Center.

The impact of Susan's teaching extends beyond the Training Center's walls, as she has made a significant difference in the lives of high school EMT students she taught at Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC). During the recent graduation ceremony of EMT students, Susan received recognition from every single EMT student she mentored. Each student expressed how inspiring she was, the joy of being in her class, and how the EMT course was the most influential experience throughout their high school careers.

Susan's decades of service, coupled with the diverse roles she has undertaken, make her a truly exceptional educator. Her contributions to EMS education have earned her the esteemed title of Educator of the Year.

Patrick Ahlgrim2023 WEMSA Support Person of the Year - Patrick Ahlgrim - Oconto Falls Area Ambulance

Patrick Ahlgrim, a dedicated EMS professional and community leader, has been recognized as the 2023 Support Person of the Year by the Wisconsin EMS Association (WEMSA). This prestigious award highlights Patrick's remarkable journey and outstanding contributions to the field of EMS and his unwavering commitment to his community.

Patrick's journey at the Oconto Falls Area Ambulance Service (OFAAS) began in July 2018 when he returned to his EMS roots, driven by a desire to raise his young family in the same community where he grew up. Shortly after rejoining the EMS squad, he was offered the position of Service Director at OFAAS. Despite facing challenges like minimal staffing, limited resources, low funding, and outdated equipment, Patrick accepted the role. Patrick's wife Angie, also in EMS, joined him to commence strategic planning to keep the doors open and the service running. He continued to respond to EMS calls in addition to working full-time as an Emergency Department Registered Nurse at a small rural critical access hospital.

During the early days of his tenure, the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, adding unprecedented strain to healthcare systems. Patrick, as both a frontline worker in the Emergency Department and an EMS responder, faced long hours, limited resources, and emotionally taxing situations. It was during this time that he made a pivotal decision to upgrade OFAAS from an Advanced EMT level to a Critical Care Paramedic Service.

Patrick's dedication to this mission was unwavering. He initiated networking, planning, and development of an operational plan, conducted meetings with key stakeholders, and secured funding and resources. This effort resulted in OFAAS officially providing Critical Care Paramedic services starting in December of 2021, a significant achievement that benefited the community.

In addition to this achievement, Patrick's leadership and character set him apart. He fosters a sense of unity among his team, always greeting them with a warm "Good Morning" and providing support in their professional and personal lives. He listens to their ideas, encourages staff autonomy, and promotes a "squad family" atmosphere. Beyond his role in EMS, Patrick is deeply involved in community engagement. He is a member of various community organizations, joined the County Dive Rescue Team, and established a Community CPR program. Most recently, he played a pivotal role in building a community garden that donated over 2,000 pounds of vegetables to the local food pantry.

Patrick Ahlgrim's dedication, leadership, and profound impact on both his patients and staff have earned him the title of WEMSA's 2023 Support Person of the Year. His commitment to serving his community, both professionally and personally, makes him a true inspiration.


2023 WEMSA EMT of the Year - Laura Palmer - City of Antigo Fire Department & White Lake Fire Department

 In a heartfelt tribute to a remarkable individual, Laura Palmer has been honored as the 2023 EMT of the Year by the Wisconsin EMS Association (WEMSA). Laura's story is one of unwavering dedication, encouragement, and selflessness, making her an inspiration to her colleagues and the community.

Laura served as the Director at Blanchardville EMS. During her time there, she left a lasting impact on her colleagues, always offering encouragement and motivation to excel. Her mentorship played a pivotal role in the growth and development of those she worked with, instilling in them the belief that they could achieve anything.

Even after moving to the northwoods to pursue her dreams, Laura's influence continued to resonate. She currently balances a demanding schedule, working full-time as a Firefighter/AEMT while pursuing full-time education to obtain her Paramedic license. Despite being hundreds of miles away, Laura continues to support and encourage her colleagues in Blanchardville, exemplifying her commitment to their success.

Laura's dedication extends beyond her EMS work. She actively volunteers as a Firefighter in White Lake, WI, and runs a pediatric cancer foundation in honor of her son, who tragically lost his battle with cancer at the age of two. Through her foundation, Laura provides meals for children's hospitals in Madison and Milwaukee during holidays, as well as organizing toy and blanket drives.

In every spare moment, Laura is dedicated to giving back to her community. She volunteers at the local elementary school, participates in roadside cleanups, and delivers speeches at schools. Her selflessness and integrity shine brightly, making her a rare gem in the community.

Laura Palmer embodies the true spirit of community and service, impacting the lives of those she encounters on a daily basis. Her colleagues and friends are blessed to have her in their lives, and she undoubtedly enriches the EMS world by her presence.

As WEMSA's 2023 EMT of the Year, Laura Palmer's dedication, encouragement, and positivity continue to inspire those around her. Her commitment to being better and doing more is a testament to her character, and her influence is felt by many.

2023 WEMSA EMR of the Year - Bobbie Vossekuil - Waupun Fire & Rescue

Bobbie Vossekuil, a true embodiment of selfless dedication in the field of emergency response, has been honored as the 2023 EMR of the Year by the Wisconsin EMS Association (WEMSA). Bobbie's journey is a testament to her unwavering commitment, professionalism, and exceptional patient care.

With 35 years of emergency medical service, the majority of it spent on an ambulance service, Bobbie embarked on a new challenge with the Fire Chief in the City of Waupun. Together, they initiated the Emergency Medical Responder program, a task not without its challenges. Bobbie consistently faced these challenges head-on with a high degree of professionalism.

Bobbie's dedication knows no bounds. Even in retirement, she dedicates herself to the program, working an astonishing 70-hour work week. She willingly covers weekends and fills in whenever another staff member isn't available. Bobbie conducts regular training sessions and provides guidance to fellow colleagues. Her efforts have been pivotal in expanding the program, recruiting new members, and highlighting the crucial role of First Responders in the city.

Beyond her administrative role, Bobbie's patient care is exemplary. What sets her apart is her unparalleled ability to connect with patients, showing them empathy, compassion, and treating them as if they were her own family. Her calming presence and assurance have a profound impact on those in distress, making them feel well taken care of.

The recognition of WEMSA's 2023 EMR of the Year is a well-deserved honor for Bobbie Vossekuil, and her commitment to her profession and her community continues to inspire all who have the privilege of working alongside her to work harder, do better, and continually seek knowledge.

2023 WEMSA Paramedic of the Year - Jon Frank - City of Madison Fire Department

Jon Frank, a distinguished member of the Madison Fire Department with over two decades of dedicated service, has been recognized as the 2023 Paramedic of the Year by the Wisconsin EMS Association (WEMSA). Jon's remarkable journey is characterized by unwavering commitment, exemplary leadership, and a profound impact on the field of emergency medical services.

Jon's journey as a paramedic, beginning in 2006, has been marked by excellence. Throughout his tenure, Jon has not only provided exceptional paramedic care but has also served as a mentor to numerous paramedic students. His dedication to mentoring has significantly elevated the quality of paramedic care in Madison and left a lasting legacy for the city and Dane County as a whole. Additionally, Jon's role as a CPR Instructor has played a crucial role in raising the standard of pre-hospital care in Dane County.

Beyond his paramedic role, Jon serves as a senior paramedic for the Heavy Urban Rescue Team, where he consistently demonstrates his proficiency in high-pressure situations. Notably, Jon has been a part of Medic 8, one of the city's busiest ambulances, responding to over 4,800 calls annually. His ability to manage critical cases with competence is a testament to his mastery of the paramedic profession.

Jon's exceptional skills were recently put to the test in a life-saving incident within the City of Madison. His advanced interventions and procedures, all within his scope of practice, transformed what could have been a tragic outcome into a second chance at life for a community member. This heroic act highlights the critical role experienced paramedics play on the front lines of emergency responses.

While the achievements of paramedic work rely on the collective efforts of a team, Jon Frank's leadership and unwavering confidence have consistently inspired and motivated his colleagues to reach their fullest potential. He sets a high standard for professionalism and excellence, serving as a role model for all department members.

Jon Frank's recognition as WEMSA's 2023 Paramedic of the Year is a well-deserved honor, reflecting his exceptional contributions to the field of emergency medical services and his unwavering dedication to saving lives.

2023 EMS Service of the Year - Oconto Falls Area Ambulance

The Wisconsin EMS Association (WEMSA) has bestowed the 2023 Service of the Year award upon Oconto Falls Area Ambulance Service (OFAAS) in recognition of their exceptional contributions to the field of EMS.

Before OFAAS's upgrade to a Critical Care Paramedic service, reliance on out-of-area ambulance services for critical patient transport from hospitals in Oconto County resulted in lengthy delays, sometimes lasting hours to days, until an ambulance could become available. Recognizing the pressing need for change became even more critical with the onset of the pandemic.

In the midst of the pandemic's challenges, OFAAS administration initiated the process of service upgrade. This involved extensive networking, communication with hospitals, meetings with town representatives, securing financial backing, contractual commitments, and engagement with DHS.

By October 2021, OFAAS submitted the application for the upgrade and an operational plan with new protocols to DHS. The staffing model at OFAAS is hybrid, featuring EMRs, EMTs, Paramedics, and RNs, allowing flexibility based on patient needs. Their work culture stands out for its emphasis on individual professional growth, collaboration, decision-making latitude, independent thinking, problem-solving, and conflict resolution.

In December of 2021, OFAAS received state approval to provide 911 Paramedic service and Critical Care Paramedic interfacility transfers. The immediate impact of having local Critical Care Paramedic service was evident, with quicker transport times and shortened 911 response times. During the first year of the upgrade, critical cases such as STEMI or stroke candidates met recommended response times, resulting in significant reductions in disability and mortality. Call volume increased substantially from approximately 600 calls per year to 1,414 calls in 2022.

Oconto County's unique features, including a bustling summer season and extensive recreational opportunities, make the presence of a critical care ambulance service paramount. The collaborative effort of a Rescue Task Force is underway, and OFAAS actively participates in community events, safety initiatives, and a fall prevention program. They also established a green, eco-friendly community garden that yielded over 2,000 pounds of fresh produce for the county's food pantry.

The recognition of WEMSA's 2023 Service of the Year is a testament to the dedication, leadership, and community impact of Oconto Falls Area Ambulance Service. Their commitment to excellence in EMS sets a shining example for the field.

2023 Service of the Year

For more information about Wisconsin EMS Association call 414-431-8193 or visit www.wisconsinems.com

The Wisconsin EMS Association is a non-sectarian, non-profit organization open to all. We represent and support the views and interests of our membership by working together as Your Voice for EMS® to promote education, share information, and facilitate legislative action.