4th Annual Paramedics Awards Celebration Honors Community Heroes, Raises $140,000 to Support Denver Health Paramedic Division
May 12, 2022
The Denver Health Foundation hosted the fourth annual Paramedics Awards Celebration on Tuesday, May 10, at the Denver Center for Performing Arts’ Seawell Ballroom. More than 200 people attended to recognize and celebrate every member of the Denver Health Paramedic Division for their heroic work.
Denver7 Morning Anchor Nicole Brady emceed the event; the Denver Police Department Pipes and Drums performed while the DPD Honor Guard presented the colors; and the acclaimed vintage touring act The Beverly Belles sang the national anthem. Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock; Denver Health CEO Robin Wittenstein, Ed.D., FACHE; Chief Paramedic Gary Bryskiewicz; and Paramedic Division Medical Director Dr. Kevin McVaney all delivered remarks highlighting the accomplishments of the Paramedics and their impact on the greater Denver community.
Guests were treated to a catered lunch and the event raised $140,000, which will directly support the Denver Health Paramedic Division, including programs to promote employees’ mental and physical health as well as capital expenses.
Proclaiming May 10 “Denver Health Paramedics Day,” Mayor Hancock told the crowd of honorees and supporters, “There’s not a person here in this room or across the community who doesn’t recognize the enormity of the challenges all our paramedics, our first responders and our medical professionals faced over the last two years.”
Mayor Hancock presented Chief Bryskiewicz and the Paramedic Division with an official city gold coin, which he awards to individuals or organizations who have contributed to Denver, highlighting the sacrifices Denver Health Paramedics make daily, but especially during the height of COVID-19.
“This pandemic pushed our health care system to the brink,” Mayor Hancock said. “There are no words, no thanks yous, big enough to truly express the magnitude of the gratitude we have for our paramedics […and] all the men and women who are on the front lines when others are moving back. In some of our darkest times, you were our measure of perseverance and fortitude.”
Chief Bryskiewicz took a moment to recognize the entire Paramedic Division and the enormity of their duties.
“While we are not the largest organization in EMS in the state, we are the busiest,” he said. “The number of patients we will transport [annually] is more than a sold-out crowd at Mile High Stadium.”
Before presenting the awards, Chief Bryskiewicz thanked Denver Health and Hospital Authority and Denver Health Foundation leadership, as well as supporters like The Anschutz Foundation and Dependable Cleaners, and closed his remarks by acknowledging his colleagues and how proud he is to be a Denver Health Paramedic.
“To the members of the Paramedic Division,” said Chief Bryskiewicz, “every day, I get to come to work and put on this uniform that I’m so very proud to wear, and it’s because it represents you and the amazing things that you do for our community every day.”
Awards were presented to a nonprofit foundation, a paramedic scholar, 11 paramedics, and two members of the Denver Police Department whose actions went above and beyond their normal call of duty to care for our community.
The Spirit of Philanthropy Award went to The Anschutz Foundation for its longstanding commitment to Denver Health, including a recent $300,000 challenge grant to cover the cost of a new ambulance. Denver Health will add four new ambulances to the Paramedics’ fleet this year, and thanks to community support matching The Anschutz Foundation’s generosity, two of these four ambulances will be made possible by philanthropy.
The Jack D. Gabow Scholarship was awarded to Emergency Medical Technician Margaux Wegeng to support her pursuit to advance her career and become a paramedic.
The Legion of Merit Award was presented to Denver Police Department Officer Bobi Limon and Corporal Brandon Reyes—both of whom applied lifesaving tourniquets to patients with critical injuries prior to Denver Health Paramedics arriving on those scenes.
The Medal of Honor was awarded to Paramedic Field Training Officers Jesse Wright and Justin Bell for their swift actions in treating and transporting a critically wounded police officer to the hospital after Corporal Reyes applied a tourniquet to his gunshot wound—with an armed suspect still on the loose in the vicinity.
Community Service Awards were presented to Paramedics Senior Operations Support Specialist Juana Brown, and Paramedics Candice Noel and Jordan Flessner for their positive contributions to community relations.
The Field Trainer of the Year Award was given to Jesse Wright—earning him two accolades at the event.
The Distinguished Service Cross was presented to Paramedic Field Training Officer Julia Drahn and Paramedic Laura Gehm for intervening on behalf of a patient they believed to be a victim of human trafficking. This award was highlighted in a Denver7 news story that also featured the human trafficking training provided to Denver Health employees by Denver Health SANE Nurse Michelle Metz.
The Employee of the Year Award was given to EMT Dustin Keltie, honoring him for being a model for his peers to aspire toward.
The Paramedicine Award was given to Paramedic Imani Thomas for her vast knowledge base, strong commitment to education, sound technical skill, and clinical acumen.
The Medal of Valor was awarded to Paramedic Matthew Ludtke for his courageous, heroic actions in saving the life of a teenager who was threatening to jump from atop a multistory parking structure.
As the sole providers of emergency services to the Denver-metro area, Denver Health Paramedics deliver compassionate, clinically excellent care, often under high-stress situations. Every day, Denver Health Paramedics put their lives on the line serving our community, but the past two years have presented challenges of epic proportions—a global pandemic, social justice protests, historic wildfires, and a distinct increase in the number of overdoses, car accidents, violent acts and more. The Division responds to over 128,000 calls annually and more than 80,000 patients are treated and transported by Denver Health Paramedics each year, and demand has been steadily increasing.
Denver Health Foundation Executive Director Crystal Potter Rivera closed the celebration by acknowledging the difficult and outstanding work the Paramedic Division does and how wonderful it is to have “an opportunity to recognize and to channel the recognition of our community for our Denver Health Paramedics who are there to save your life.”
“They’re here for our community and it means the world to them to be able to do that,” she added, “and it means to the world to us to be able to support them with your help.”
Dependable Cleaners was the Presenting Sponsor of the 2022 Denver Health Foundation Paramedics Awards Celebration, the Media Sponsor was Denver7, and the Christian P. Anschutz Foundation was the Frontline Sponsor. Christie and Walter Isenberg and Denver Health Trauma Services were the Guardian Sponsors. The event’s First Responder Sponsors were Richard and Pam Bard; Life Line Emergency Vehicles; Bill Saslow; Kris Gaw; Denver Police Foundation; CCS Fundraising; Steve Rosdal; Denver Health Medical Plan; Osage Initiatives; Colorado Rockies Baseball Club; and HealthONE. Additional individuals supported the event through ticket purchases and donations.
Event co-chairs were Josh Hanfling, chair of the Denver Health Foundation Board of Directors; and Steven Toltz, owner of Dependable Cleaners. Community leaders who pledged their support as Champions of the Paramedics include Rose Andom; Colin and Jessica Barclay; Pam and Richard Bard; Sheriff Elias Diggins; Brooke and Tom Gordon; Evi and Evan Makovsky; Kevin McVaney, M.D.; Dick Monfort; MJ and Paul Powers; Dean Prina, M.D.; and Steve Rosdal.
Watch the event recording: