The California Ambulance Association presented Stars of Life awards to 41 emergency medical service professionals from across the state to recognize their lifesaving actions and professional achievements.
Among those awarded during Tuesday’s ceremony were paramedic Joshua Acker and emergency medical dispatcher Ashley Mattos of Riggs Ambulance Service in Merced.
The award recipients traveled to Sacramento, where they were given Star of Life medals and invited to share their stories with members of the California Senate and Assembly.
Acker was honored for saving the life of a patient in cardiac arrest in November. Acker attended to a critical chest pain patient who was involved in a minor car accident. Acker externally paced the patient’s heart and managed the patient’s airway for 20 minutes before reaching the nearest chest pain facility. According to Acker, the best thing about this case was the patient was able to return home with his family in time for Thanksgiving.
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“It’s definitely a great honor to be recognized for my performance in the field,” said Acker, a Merced native and an active paramedic for five years. “It’s just exciting to be able to give someone another chance at life.”
Acker said the most challenging part of his job is the long hours, but receiving recognition makes it all worthwhile.
Mattos, who has been an emergency medical dispatcher for Riggs Ambulance Service for three years, was also awarded for her dedication to excellence. According to the California Ambulance Association, Mattos is deserving of recognition for sustaining a professional and positive attitude with every call, patient and co-worker. In the past year, Mattos has taken a role in seven “code saves” by administering CPR over the phone, and in her three years of service, Mattos has helped in the delivery of two babies.
“I can’t even explain how amazing it feels to be recognized,” Mattos said. “You go to work every day because that’s what you chose to do, and you don’t really expect a recognition for doing your job, so when you’re awarded, it’s amazing. This whole experience was very humbling.”