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Paramedic Coco Wham receives her Employee of the Year Award from Chief Gary Bryskiewicz, Deputy Chief of Operations Brent Stevenson, and event co-chair Christian P. Anschutz at the 5th Annual Paramedics Awards Celebration

5th Annual Denver Health Paramedics Awards Celebration Hosted by Denver Health Foundation Honors Community Heroes

May 26, 2023

Event Raises More Than $200,000 to Support Denver Health Paramedic Division

Denver Health Foundation hosted the fifth annual Paramedics Awards Celebration on Wednesday, May 24, at The Cable Center. More than 200 people attended to honor and celebrate the Denver Health Paramedic Division for their heroic work. 

NBC 9NEWS weekday morning anchor Corey Rose emceed the event; the Denver Police Department Pipes and Drums performed while the DPD Honor Guard presented the colors; Denver vocalist Beth Avedis sang the national anthem; and Denver Health chaplain Tami Terpstra delivered the invocation. Colorado Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera, Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock; Denver Health CEO Donna Lynne, DrPh; Chief Paramedic Gary Bryskiewicz; Paramedic Division Interim Medical Director Dr. Jacob Nacht; and Denver Health Foundation Executive Director Crystal Potter Rivera 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 more than $200,000, which will directly support Denver Health Paramedic Division scholarships and training equipment for the EMS Education Institute. 

Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera began her remarks by praising Denver Health’s “dynamic, compassionate, and essential paramedics.” She recounted her own few ambulance experiences, recalling that the paramedics and first responders on the scene let her know she “was in good hands—they gave me comfort and steadiness in challenging moments.”  

“Paramedics are asked to deal with a lot on a day-to-day basis. Few jobs ask you to aid people on some of the most difficult days of their lives,” said Primavera. “And then ask you to do it over and over and over again.” 

Mayor Michael B. Hancock proclaimed the week of May 21-27 “EMS Week” in honor of our frontline workers and presented Chief Bryskiewicz and the Paramedic Division with an official City of Denver gold coin, which he awards to individuals or organizations who have contributed to Denver. 

Hancock departed from prepared remarks and spoke about the compassion of Denver Health paramedics who transported his recently departed, chronically ill mother to the hospital on more than one occasion. He praised “the tenderness, the expert focused care that each paramedic gave her” at the end of her life. 

Hancock was emphatic: “The paramedics made a difference.” 

Chief Bryskiewicz thanked the program speakers, Denver Health and Hospital Authority and Denver Health Foundation leadership, as well as event supporters like Dependable Cleaners and The Christian P. Anschutz Foundation. 

Bryskiewicz reflected on Denver Health’s 163-year history and how pre-hospital care has evolved, from horse-drawn carriages to modified Cadillacs to ambulances that are now, “essentially, a mobile emergency room.” 

“Our ambulances, our knowledge, and our skills have advanced,” he said. “We have the capability of providing the severely sick and injured a chance to live through an extension of the ER that we bring to the field.” 

Before presenting the awards, Bryskiewicz closed his remarks by emphasizing the theme of systemic evolution: “We are invested in the professional growth and career pathing of our people to create a division that better represents the communities we serve by creating a structure and culture that attracts young adults and provides a pipeline for them to become EMTs and paramedics.” 

The first award was the Denver Health Foundation Spirit of Philanthropy Award, presented by Denver Health Foundation Executive Director Crystal Potter Rivera to a couple who turned their lifesaving trip to Denver Health into philanthropic action.  

Jessica Barclay is a grateful patient whose life was saved by Denver Health Paramedics in September 2021. Last year, she and her husband Colin raised $100,000 from friends and family to help Denver Health Foundation unlock a challenge grant posed by The Anschutz Foundation to purchase two new ambulances for the Denver Health Paramedic Division. Additionally, Jessica and Colin were generous supporters of Denver Health Foundation’s 2022 NightShine Gala and this year’s 5th Annual Paramedics Awards Celebration. The Barclays generosity extends beyond financial contributions. In 2022, Colin joined Denver Health Foundation’s board of directors out of deep gratitude for Denver Health’s lifesaving care. Colin has been a vocal advocate for the Denver Health Paramedic Division and the hospital’s mission to serve the entire Denver community at every step of life’s journey. The Barclays are inspiring champions of Denver Health, and they continue to connect others in their network to our mission.  

Following the philanthropy award Chief Bryskiewicz, Deputy Chief Brent Stevenson and Christian P. Anshutz presented peer-nominated and peer-selected awards to six paramedics and two dispatchers whose actions went above and beyond their normal call of duty to care for our community. 

Community Service Awards were presented to Paramedics Daylynn Royer, Robert Moffitt, and Christian Moxley, and Dispatchers Brandon Wade and Sara Wheeland. The Community Service Award is given to DHPD members who contribute positively to community relations.  

The Paramedicine Award was given to Paramedic Nikole Baxter for her compassion, solid clinical judgment, and professionalism.  

The Field Trainer of the Year Award was given to Paramedic Keri Reiner for her commitment to Denver and the Paramedic Division and her standing among her peers and trainees.  

The Employee of the Year Award was given to Paramedic Coco Wham, honoring her for being a dynamic and inspiring model for her peers. 

Closing the celebration, Denver Health Foundation board chair Josh Hanfling thanked everyone in attendance and asked them to go into the community and talk about the work being done by Denver Health and the Paramedic Division. “It means a lot to me for you all to be here to support the hospital and support all the great work the paramedics do,” he said. 

Dependable Cleaners, a longstanding supporter of the Paramedic Division, generously donated $30,000 toward scholarships, and their challenge to raise an additional $30,000 to fund a total of six paramedic scholarships was matched during the celebration. 

Dependable Cleaners and The Christian P. Anschutz Foundation were the presenting sponsors of the 2023 Denver Health Foundation Paramedics Awards Celebration; the media sponsor was NBC 9News; and James and Pamela Crowe, MDC/Richmond American Homes Foundation and Sewald Hanfling Public Affairs were the frontline sponsors. Additional individuals and organizations supported the event through guardian and first responder sponsorships, as well as through individual donations at the event. 

Event co-chairs were Josh Hanfling, chair of the Denver Health Foundation Board of Directors, and Christian P. Anschutz, President of The Christian P. Anschutz Foundation. Community leaders Rose Andom, Christian P. Anschutz, Sheriff Elias Diggins, Drs. Patricia and Hal Gabow, Dr. Nancy Gary, Brooke and Tom Gordon, Josh Hanfling, Dick Monfort, and Jay Moskowitz all served as Champions of the Paramedics. 

The Denver Health Paramedic Division is the sole provider of emergency medical services for the City and County of Denver, as well as residents of Glendale, Sheridan, Englewood, and the Skyline Fire Protection District. Their mission is to provide professional, compassionate, and clinically excellent care to every patient, with every encounter, through a culture of integrity and continuous improvement. As first responders, Denver Health Paramedics put their lives and more on the line every day. Their commitment to community is evident in the care they provide on the scene. The Division, with support from mutual aid partners, responds to over 128,000 calls annually and more than 80,000 patients are treated and transported by our EMS providers and partner agencies. 

5th Annual Denver Health Paramedics Awards Celebration – YouTube 

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