BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – As the nation marked National EMS Week, Overlook Medical Center, part of Atlantic Health System, celebrated the important role of EMS first responders in the communities they serve.  The event highlighted the extraordinary accomplishments of members of several local squads in the region at the 21st Annual Excellence in EMS Awards Dinner, on May 24.

"For many of our patients, the care process begins with you,” Overlook president Alan Lieber told the audience of EMS providers and their families who attended the event. “Your dedication is the first line of care, and tonight we want to show our appreciation for the important part you play in our work of building healthier communities.”

John Hanna, M.D., a stroke neurologist at Overlook’s Comprehensive Stroke Center, noted that the collaboration between local EMS squads and Overlook health care providers, combined with advances in care, have improved outcomes for patients at the hospital.

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“The knowledge of our EMS providers is critical when it comes to treatment of stroke,” Hanna said. “Their understanding of everything, from stroke signs and symptoms to patient history, to the criteria for TPA clot-busting medication – all before the patient reaches the emergency department – greatly aides rapid communication with stroke neurologists that advances treatment in crucial minutes. This allows for a safe and effective treatment plan and really helps improve the chances of a good outcome."

Hanna highlighted Overlook’s recent achievement of a 12-minute door-to-needle-time (the time it takes for a patient to receive clot-busting medication from when he or she enters the emergency department) to treat a stroke patient earlier in the month, topping its previous best of 13 minutes in 2015 – already well below the national door-to-needle guideline from the American Stroke Association of less than an hour.

Fourteen EMS personnel were given awards at the event for exceptional service. The awards were presented by colleagues, who described the winners’ accomplishments to the audience. The award winners included:

Jim Cline – Berkeley Heights Volunteer Rescue Squad
Richard Crater – Chatham Emergency Squad
Bill Weslosky – Clark Volunteer Rescue Squad
Brian Siwek – Cranford First Aid Squad
Karolyn Buckridee – Fanwood Rescue Squad
Mikaela Teixeira – Long Hill First Aid Squad
Julius Korn – Mountainside Rescue Squad
Teresa Nell – New Providence Rescue Squad
Susan Baldani – Scotch Plains Rescue Squad
Marla Napurano – Spríngfield First Aid Squad
John Staunton – Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad
Cindy Catao – Union Emergency Medical Unit
Nick Grieco – Watchung Rescue Squad
Sergio Guzman – Westfield Rescue Squad

Additionally, Overlook also recognized two members of its emergency department staff at the event for their accomplishments:

Jessica Delgado-Days, a patient care technician at the emergency department at Overlook’s main campus in Summit.

Jennifer Carillo, a patient care technician at the Overlook Medical Center Union Campus’s emergency department.