About Tri Community South EMS

Awards and Recognition

Stars of Life Awards

In 2007, the Ambulance Association of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania EMS Provider Foundation created the Stars of Life awards, to be presented each year at the Pennsylvania EMS 911 Event in September. The Stars of Life awards are given to EMS providers who particularly exemplify the "efforts and importance of the job our everyday heroes provide to the residents of this Commonwealth."

The Pennsylvania EMS 911 Event was established in 2007 to honor EMS providers who have died in the line of duty, and to establish a foundation to perpetuate the retention and recruitment of paramedics, EMTs and first responders in Pennsylvania. This foundation is now known as the Pennsylvania EMS Provider Foundation.

The Ambulance Association of Pennsylvania (AAP) is the lead organization for the advancement of the needs of its members in the emergency and non-emergency ambulance and medical transportation industry. The AAP advocates the highest quality patient care through ethical and sound business practices, advancing the interests of its members in important legislative, regulatory, educational and reimbursement issues.

Since the establishment of the Stars of Life awards in 2007, thirteen Tri-Community South EMS employees have been honored as recipients. They are:

October, 2013: EMS for Children Master Level Recognition

Tri-Community South EMS has received recognition in the Pennsylvania Department of Health's EMS for Children program. Tri-Community South was awarded recognition at the highest, Master, level. TCS was one of the first 20 EMS agencies in the state to be recognized at this level.

The EMSC program is a multi-level system of recognition for EMS agencies throughout Pennsylvania, with recognition awarded for compliance with basic equipment standards, ChildLine background clearance for all personnel, advanced pediatric education for providers, and community outreach programs.

The EMS for Children Voluntary Recognition Program is a partnership between the Pennsylvania Department of Health's Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and the Pennsylvania Emergency Health Services Council, and is funded by a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The purpose of the program is to assist EMS agencies in improving their capability to treat pediatric patients, and to raise public awareness about the ability of EMS agencies to care for patients of all ages. All of Tri-Community South ambulances have long met or exceeded the equipment requirements, and Tri-Community South's paramedics already maintain certification in Pediatric Advanced Life Support. The system's EMTs completed the requisite pediatric education. All of Tri-Community South's employees have current ChildLine clearances. TCS offers EMS awareness education to local schools through its Junior paramedic program, and offers public CPR classes that include infant and child CPR training.

The application for recognition was submitted to the state in August of 2013. Recognition was awarded after the system's records were reviewed by the Emergency Medical Service Institute (EMSI) and the vehicles were inspected for compliance with the equipment standards in October.

January, 2012: TCS Employees Recognized

In January, 2012, two Tri-Community South employees were recognized for their service by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Among the dozen Police, Fire and EMS providers honored at a dinner on January 12, sponsored by State Representative Rick Saccone, Tri-Community South Supervisor Chuck Bryan and Paramedic Jonathan Madaras received proclamations from the state house honoring their service to the commonwealth.

Chuck Bryan has served with Tri-Community South since its inception. He worked the very first shift for the system, reporting on duty at 11:00 p.m. on December 31, 1977. Jonathan Madaras is one of the system's newest employees, starting as a part-time Paramedic in November of 2011. Jonathan was nominated for the honor for his work at Tri-Community Ambulance Service in Washington County, serving the City of Monongahela, Carroll Township and New Eagle Borough.

January, 2011: Recognition for Research Participation

In January of 2011, Tri-Community South EMS received an incentive award from the Center for Emergency Medicine (CEM) Department of Research. Daniel Patterson, Research Director of the Department of Emergency Medicine, informed Tri-Community South that the TCS team had won the incentive award for the highest rate of participation in the CEM's study on Teamwork and Conflict in EMS. This study focused on means of building teamwork and eliminating conflict while carrying out tasks associated with high levels of stress. This award, which is one of several that Tri-Community South has won, demonstrates the commitment that Tri-Community South's people have to improvement in emergency medical services to meet the demands of the future.

November, 2008: TCS Director Receives Award

Nora Helfrich, Tri-Community South's director, received an award from the Emergency Medical Service Institute (EMSI) at its annual dinner on November 14, 2008. Nora was recognized for her outstanding contributions to EMS in Southwestern Pennsylvania. She was nominated for the award by EMSI board member Mary Ann Scott, who was Tri-Community South's founding director in 1977. Nora succeeded Mary Ann as EMS Director at Tri-Community South in October of 2000. EMSI is the Regional EMS Council serving the Southwestern Pennsylvania counties of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland.

November, 2007: TCS CPR Program Coordinator Receives Award

John Brewer, Tri-Community South's CPR program coordinator, received the Community Educator of the Year award from the Emergency Medical Service Institute. Under Mr. Brewer's leadership, Tri- Community South remains the busiest Community Training Center in the American Heart Association's Northern Atlantic region, and every TCS employee is a CPR instructor. EMSI is the Regional EMS Council serving the Southwestern Pennsylvania counties of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland.

August, 2007: TCS is Pennsylvania Ambulance Service of the Year

Tri-Community South EMS was honored by the Pennsylvania Emergency Health Services Council (PEHSC) as the 2007 Ambulance Service of the Year. The award was presented at the PEHSC annual conference in Lancaster on August 18th. Tri-Community South was recognized for its many accomplishments both in 2006 - 2007 and throughout its 29-year history.

Tri-Community South remains Pennsylvania's most active Community Training Center of the American Heart Association, was the second EMS system in Pennsylvania to be accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS), and has been awarded recognition by the Pittsburgh Critical Incident Stress Management Team, the National Center for Early Defibrillation (now known as the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association) and the Center for Emergency Medicine, among others. The system was recognized for its involvement in professional issues at the local, state and national levels, and for its exceptional level of community involvement.

In presenting the award, PEHSC president J.R. Henry and Pennsylvania EMS Director Joe Schmider noted that Tri-Community South's accomplishments are possible because of the dedication and tireless efforts of the system's staff, from Director Nora Helfrich to every system employee. Tri- Community South's success also speaks well of the citizens and municipal officials of Bethel Park, South Park and Upper St. Clair, who continue to support, and even demand a municipally owned and operated EMS system to ensure the closest possible working relationship between the EMS system and the community.

The PEHSC was founded in 1974 and became the official EMS advisory body to the Pennsylvania Department of Health in 1985 with the passage of Pennsylvania's EMS Act. As an advocate for its diverse member organizations, PEHSC's ultimate purpose is to foster improvements in the quality and delivery of emergency health services throughout the Commonwealth.

June, 2006: TCS Recognized by Allegheny County Council for Lifesaving Efforts

Members of TCS received a Certificate of Achievement in Allegheny County Council Chambers from Councilman Vince Gastgeb in recognition of its participation in saving the life of 11 year old Sam Nicholson who collapsed in cardiac arrest in March of 2006 while playing basketball with his friend.

February, 2006: TCS Recognized for CISM Team Participation

Tri-Community South EMS was recognized by the Pittsburgh Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Team at the recent international CISM conference. CISM is a system to provide emotional and psychological support to emergency personnel who have responded to stressful incidents. The CISM team includes members who are peers of the responders, to give support and an opportunity to debrief from the incident in a safe environment. Tri-Community South has participated in the CISM program for twenty years, assisting as peer responders at many major incidents, including the Flight 93 crash in Shanksville, PA on September 11, 2001.
Tri-Community South was recognized for its dedication to the CISM Team's mission, for in twenty years, Tri-Community South has never failed to respond to a call for CISM assistance, regardless of the circumstance. In 2006, six TCS employees participate as peer reviewers on the Pittsburgh CISM Team.

October, 2003: TCS Receives Award for AED Program

Tri-Community South EMS received national recognition at the National Center for Early Defibrillation (NCED) Conference of Champions in Washington, DC on October 24, 2003. Tri-Community South earned the Achieving Excellence in Defibrillation award. Tri-Community South EMS is the emergency medical service system owned and operated by Upper St. Clair Township, the Municipality of Bethel Park and South Park Township for the benefit of their residents. The NCED is a non-profit information clearinghouse based at the University of Pittsburgh, dedicated to saving lives that would otherwise be lost to sudden cardiac arrest. Tri-Community South was recognized for its outstanding achievements in community awareness and training, and in its efforts to get Automated Emergency Defibrillators (AEDs) placed throughout Upper St. Clair, Bethel Park and South Park. These devices have already saved several lives in these communities, and will undoubtedly save more in the future. There are currently more than 100 AEDs in Tri-Community South's service area in municipal facilities, churches, schools, public places and businesses, in addition to those that have been in service in police patrol cars since 1992.

The AED is a device used to rescue victims of sudden cardiac arrest. In sudden cardiac arrest, a person's heart suddenly stops beating. This is usually caused by a disturbance in the small electrical impulses the heart muscle creates to coordinate the beating. The resulting condition is called Ventricular Fibrillation, or V-Fib. This condition is fatal if it persists untreated for more than a few minutes. In the past, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, was the only treatment the average person could give to a victim of sudden cardiac arrest. By performing CPR, the rescuer provides blood flow to the brain and other vital organs until the beating action of the heart can be restored. The definitive treatment to restore that beating action is electrical defibrillation, which is the delivery of a concentrated electrical shock to the heart muscle.

Until the early 1990s, only medical professionals could provide electrical defibrillation. Defibrillators, the devices used to provide this treatment, were complex, expensive, required constant maintenance, and could only be operated by someone trained in reading and interpreting the machine's display of the heart rhythm. Advancements in computer processing power and the development of lightweight, long lasting batteries in the 1990s permitted the development of the portable, easy to use Automatic External Defibrillator (AED). For the first time, someone other than a medical professional could administer definitive care to a victim of sudden cardiac arrest.

Though early AEDs were easy to use, they remained prohibitively expensive for widespread public use, and Pennsylvania law still reserved their use to medical professionals. In 1992, Tri-Community South EMS joined in a pilot program with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), St. Clair Memorial Hospital, Physio-Control Corporation, and the police and EMS agencies of several South Hills communities to study the effectiveness of early defibrillation by police officers. Police officers were trained to use the AED, and all police units were so equipped. The study results were encouraging. Rapid defibrillation saved lives. The results of the UPMC study, one of the first, were supported by the results of other, similar studies in other settings. As a result, the American Heart Association decided to incorporate the use of the AED into its educational programs. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania approved the use of the AED, not only by police officers, but also by any trained citizen. Tri- Community South offers this training to residents of Upper St. Clair, Bethel Park and South Park, and to any organization or group who serves these communities who has or is planning to get an AED of their own, and needs to have people trained in its use.

August, 1998: Police AED Research Study Award

Presented to Tri-Community South EMS by Dr. Vince Mosesso, MD of the University of Pittsburgh for the work the EMS staff did for the University of Pittsburgh, Police AED Research Study. This study was the pioneering study in the use of automatic defibrillators by non-medical providers. The police officers in Bethel Park, South Park and Upper St. Clair, among other Allegheny County communities, were trained in the use of the AED. The study proved that properly trained non-medical providers could deliver care with an AED successfully. This paved the way for wider public access defibrillation.

June, 1978: Voluntary Ambulance Service Certification "Certificate of Excellence"

Tri-Community South EMS had been in service for less than six months when it received its first recognition. TCS was one of the first EMS systems in the state to receive the "Certificate of Excellence" in the Pennsylvania Department of Health's Voluntary Ambulance Service Certification program (VASC). TCS maintained its VASC certification until that program was superseded by state licensure of EMS systems in 1985.

Award for Pennsylvania EMS Service of the yearStar of Life Award, Nora HelfrichStar of Life Award, Shawn McDermottStar of Life Award, Eric Crist
Star of Life Award, Kevin TrichtingerStar of Life Award, John BowerStar of Life Award, Chris GeraciStar of Life Award, Charles Bryan
Tim Hall, Star of Life Award Recipient at the 2015 9-11 Ceremony in Hershey, PAEMS Pediatrics Voluntary CertificationTri Community South EMS CAAS CertificationMission Life Line Silver award for STEMI patients
Star of Life Award, Randy Eshelman

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