BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad's John Staunton has been selected as one of 14 first responders to receive the Overlook Medical Center Excellence in EMS Award.

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, and highlighted the extraordinary accomplishments of members of several local squads in the region at the 21st annual 'Excellence in EMS Awards' dinner.

"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.”

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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.

“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.

In nominating Staunton for the award, the Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad detailed his commitment and many contributions:

"The Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad is proud to nominate John Staunton for the Overlook EMT Excellence Award.  

John joined the Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad in September 1983.   John’s interest in EMS prompted his desire to become an EMT which was accomplished a year after he joined.

Well here he is 33 years later, an EMT and riding a 12 hour shift as the Crew Chief on Monday Nights and responding to back-up calls.

John has been a very active member of the Squad with his volunteer hours exceeding the minimum of 48 hours per month. John has served as Captain, President, and Trustee as well as serving on many committees.  John has served as our Publicity Officer for many years, compiling press releases and responding to public inquires.  I have had the opportunity to respond to emergencies with John, allowing me to observe him provide excellent patient care and comfort not only to the patient but also to family members on scene.

John has been a true asset to the Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad helping to write policies and reshape our bylaws.  He has earned the respect not only of his Monday Night crew, but the Squad as a whole.  John is an accomplished leader who graciously gives of himself to help others and continues to be a vital part of our Organization.  The Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad is proud and privileged to have John as a member and to nominate him for the Overlook EMT Excellence Award."

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. In addition to Staunton, 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

  • 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