SUMMIT, NJ - Atlantic Health System's Overlook Medical Center had selected the Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad's (SVFAS) Stephen Mortenson to receive a 2019 Excellence in EMS Award, an honor which celebrates the important role of emergency medical services (EMS) first responders in the communities they serve and highlights the accomplishments of standout members from local squads in the region to help mark 'National EMS Week'.

Mortenson received the Award at the Overlook's 23rd annual 'Excellence in EMS Awards Celebration' held on May 23 at Galloping Hill Golf Course. Seventeen EMS personnel were given the Overlook Excellence in EMS Award at the event for their exceptional service, with each Award presented by the individual recipient's' colleagues, who described the winner's accomplishments to the audience.

"The brave men and women of the EMS community are in many cases the first point of contact in the continuum of patient care a person will receive in an emergency," said Sharon Kelly MSN, RN, NEA-BC, director of Overlook's emergency services at its Summit & Union campuses. "The care they provide has a tremendous impact on the care the patient will receive once they arrive to us at the hospital, so we are honored to celebrate the vital role they play and the EMS excellence we see in our own communities."

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Overlook also presented two hospital team members with EMS Council Recognition Awards for their work collaborating with EMS personnel. The two award winners were Sergio Guzman and Diego Morales, both patient care technicians in Overlook’s emergency departments in Summit and Union Township, respectively.

In addition to the awards, the event also offered the first responders who attended an educational presentation by Ingrid Johnson, MSN, RN, nurse manager at Overlook's Union Emergency Department, 'Human Trafficking 101 for RNs and EMTs'. Johnson is an award-winning speaker and advocate for victims of human trafficking, sharing her story of her own daughter’s abduction and recovery.

Mortenson, nominated by SVFAS Chief Kari Phair,  joined the Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad in January 2004 after being told by one of its members that doing so it will be "one of the greatest things you do and it doesn't take up a lot of your time." As Mortenson now says, "The first statement is true, and the second statement is not."

Fifteen years later, Mortenson is a state certified EMT riding a 12-hour shift each Thursday night, providing excellent care and comfort not only to the patient but also to family members on scene.

Mortenson has been a very active member of the Squad, his volunteer hours exceeding the minimum of 48 hours per month. He has served as President, Vice President, Corresponding Secretary and Trustee as well as serving on many committees and also serving as one of the Squad's Legal Advisors, a vital role in today's EMS environment.

Mortenson has also helped write the SVFAS By-Laws and Standard Operating Procedures.

In addition to Mortenson, other 2019 Excellence in EMS Award recipients included:

  • Eric Breidenstein – Fanwood Rescue Squad
  • Kymm Balinth – Garwood First Aid Squad
  • Lisa Scanlon – Long Hill First Aid Squad
  • Lucy Fromtling – Mountainside Rescue Squad
  • Jessica Short – New Providence EMS
  • Rebecca (Becky) Lugara – Scotch Plains Rescue Squad
  • Andrew Shanes – Springfield First Aid Squad
  • Mike Eastman – Clark Volunteer Emergency Squad
  • Alexandra Valdes – Cranford First Aid Squad
  • Michael Maruschak – Elizabeth Fire Department
  • Christine Grobert – Chatham Emergency Squad
  • Allie Deegan – Berkeley Heights Volunteer Rescue Squad
  • Matthew Butterly - Warren Township Rescue Squad
  • Katrina Dumapit – Watchung Rescue Squad
  • Trey Ellis – Westfield Rescue Squad
  • Nicholas Goley – Union Emergency Medical Unit