Category Archives: Access and Functional Needs

15th Annual Emergency Medical Services Awards

The Honorees Are…

Awards season is typically in February when the Oscars and the Grammys are handed out.  You could debate The Life of Pi was more deserving than Argo or why Taylor Swift didn’t get another Record of the Year but there is no debating the value and contributions of San Francisco’s Emergency Medical Services Agency (EMSA).

During the 15th Annual EMSA Awards Ceremony awards were presented to outstanding individuals for their commitment to emergency medical care.  The honorees are:

Jonathan Baxter, EMT-P
EMS Field Provider Award

Jonathan Baxter is recognized for his years of outstanding service, patient advocacy and promotion of new technologies for EMS.  As an eleven year emergency services veteran, Jonathan joined the San Francisco Fire Department in 2000 and dedicated his career to taking on tough assignments.  At Fire Station 18 he served on the Surf Rescue Unit.  Since 2009, Jonathan has volunteered to work out of Fire Station One- one of the busiest in the nation.   At each station he was recognized for his work and received Meritorious Conduct Awards from the Fire Commission. In addition to his service, Jonathan contributed to projects to streamline patient care documentation and improve patient assessment.

Tae-Wol Stanley, MSN, RN, FNP
Shannon Smith-Bernardin, MSN, RN
Community Members of the Year Award

Tae-Wol Stanley and Shannon Smith receive this award for for years of meritorious service to the chronically homeless.  The Department of Public Health’s Sobering Center is a twelve bed facility that provides thousands of homeless and medically frail clients with sobering, detox and medical respite services. Ninety percent of patient encounters in the Sobering Center result in a discharge to self-care or a shelter, which significantly decreases the impact on EMS, emergency departments and jails.

As the Clinic Director, Tae-Wol manages its programs, budget, and 35 employees. Tae-Wol has also overseen the expansion of the center to field clinics during citywide special events.  In her role as Intake and Sobering Coordinator, Shannon transitioned the staff from LVNs to a mix of RNs and MEAs, wrote its clinical practice guidelines, and designed its referral system.

Jonathan D. Garber, MD
EMS System Hospital Provider Award

As the Chief of Emergency at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center since 1997, Dr. Jonathan Garber has grown the department to include more than 40 physicians and 90 residents. He is highly regarded by his colleagues and students and has been awarded the title of Master Clinician.

Dr. Garber has also been instrumental in helping the VA become more prepared.  Under his leadership, the VA has hosted disaster exercises, created the only helipad in the city, and stored a pharmaceutical cache for prophylaxis during a pandemic disease outbreak. Other innovations and improvements include specialty center designation, inter-hospital communications, ACLS courses, and co-sponsoring an EMS fellowship.

Stephen La Plante, EMT
Raymond Lim Excellence in EMS Award

Stephen La Plante receives this award for his steadfast presence and decades of labor to improve and advance public health, EMS and medical disaster preparedness in San Francisco.  Prior to his retirement in February, Steve was San Francisco’s EMS Administrator.  During his term EMSA hired new staff, wrote a five year strategic master plan, created a program for STEMI and cardiac arrest receiving centers, and reinstated the Exclusive Operating Area that defines the quality and nature of 9-1-1 response to EMS calls.

Steve also contributed to San Francisco’s overall resilience by acquiring a tremendous cache of equipment, including disaster trailers, warehoused medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, and a robust communications system for EMS field providers and between hospitals. These items may serve a critical role should the need arise for rapid deployment of field clinics.

The Department of Emergency Management salutes these outstanding men and women and thanks them for their contributions.


Photos of this year’s EMS Awards recipients:

EMS Awards Group ShotGarcia and EMS AwardeeGarcia with awardee 2Steve and Dr BrownEMS Award Group shotWoman accepting EMS award

Prepare to Prosper

Kenzi and his fiancée discussing their preparedness planning

When it comes to disaster preparedness for people with disabilities, thinking about building capacity to prosper is a powerful message. This message is effectively presented in Prepare to Prosper, a video that shares the preparedness stories and planning tips from Bay Area residents with disabilities. The video follows Jim, a man with a physical disability, and his quest for an answer to the question of “how do I get prepared for the next disaster?” He meets Ana-Marie Jones of CARD – Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disasters, and learns that the key to preparedness is not a focus on some distant fear; the key is preparing to prosper every day. Rather than planning on the quickest way to get help to arrive, the message of prepare to prosper encourages all of us to think creatively and resourcefully about our daily living environment. We may find we already have many assets in place to allow us to prosper. In short time, Jim’s lesson in preparedness becomes a lesson in how to be the best he can be in any circumstance. Because we at DEM believe most are more prepared than they think, we say amen this message!

CARD worked with the Center for Independent Living (CIL), SF Independent Living Resource Center (ILRC), and the Community Resources Independent Living (CRIL) to create the video. “It’s an honor to work with the leaders of the Independent Living Centers; and I’m absolutely delighted to have CARD’s Prepare to Prosper approach and curriculum shared across the region. We’re all excited to be part of changing the preparedness paradigm” says Ana-Marie, a passionate advocate for ending America’s disaster victim cycle and building resilient communities, where even the most vulnerable members will survive, thrive and prosper in the face of disasters and emergencies.

The video also shares prepare to prosper tips for personal assistance services’ providers and community-based organizations that support persons with disabilities. The production was funded by a Homeland Security Grant obtained by the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA).

For more information on ways for using video as part of a larger community preparedness effort, please contact one of the agencies highlighted in the video.

1. Yomi Wrong, Center for Independent Living (CIL)
2. Jessie Lorenz, SF Independent Living Resource Center (ILRC)
3. Sheri Burns, Community Resources Independent Living (CRIL)
4. Ana-Marie Jones, CARD – Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disasters

Here’s the video available with subtitles:

Here’s the video available with audio description: