Trumbull EMS earns Governor’s Award for second time in three years
A dynasty is brewing in Trumbull.
The town, known for its New England charm, excellent schools, and commercial real estate, can now add best-in-the-state Emergency Medical Services to its résumé.
For the second time in three years, Trumbull EMS took home the coveted Governor’s Award at a ceremony in Hartford, on Monday, May 16 — a recognition that it is indeed the state’s leading organization in providing emergency services.
“We’re a leader among Connecticut agencies because of the town’s commitment to our service and what our department can do for residents in town,” said Trumbull EMS Chief Joe Laucella. “There’s a continued focus on our team — from the police department, from the fire departments, from our commissions — and we couldn’t do it without our team. …
“I’m just really proud to work with such wonderful and dedicated people and I’m really grateful for all their participation and their tireless work ethic — they really deserve it,” he added. “Our volunteers work over 1,000 hours a year to ensure public safety, and our staff members put in even more time. These are people who work two to three jobs, who work away from their family at nights and volunteer their weekends to provide Trumbull with the best level of service possible, and I think the award is a worthy celebration of their endless commitment to this community.”
Every agency in the state can be nominated for the Governor’s Award — Trumbull EMS was nominated by the first selectman’s office in Town Hall, which means the competition is open to more than 100 emergency medical service organizations across the state.
To have won the award twice in a three-year window puts Trumbull in some rarefied air in the EMS field — a role that Laucella is excited to take charge of going forward.
“There are a lot of wonderful agencies out there, so being an example like this for others, it’s definitely something to be proud of,” he said.
“We have two plaques now so we’ve got to start thinking about building a display case because right now all we have is a shelf for the awards,” he joked. “We want to keep getting better at what we do and work with others around the state and hopefully we’ll get more in the future.”
It’s been a week of many highlights for Trumbull EMS.
Coinciding with National EMS Week, the Governor's Award ceremony in Hartford kicked off what has been a very busy couple of days for staff members and volunteers alike.
First there was the organization’s return to Trumbull middle schools with hands-on CPR training for eighth grade students at Madison Middle School that kicked off yesterday — Wednesday, May 18. Hillcrest Middle School, which will receive a two-day session for its eighth graders at the end of next week, is on deck for the department’s community education program.
“Our members work tirelessly to teach the public CPR and first aid training,” said Laucella. “We want to thank the school’s nurses and physical education departments for coordinating this event for a second straight year as part of EMS Week here in town. We’re very happy to be doing it again and it wouldn’t be possible without the dedication from the education community.”
If that wasn’t enough, the department was set to receive a new ambulance Wednesday — Trumbull EMS’s fourth new vehicle in three years, thanks to donations from residents and state grants.
“We’re so grateful for everything that we have received over the last couple of years,” the EMS chief said. “Being able to replace all our old equipment is what enables us to provide top-quality service; whether it’s new stretchers or cardiac monitors or intubation cameras or the Lucas CPR devices, we have some of the best resources available in the state.”
In particular, Trumbull EMS is the first agency with the new state-of-the-art intubation cameras that allow first responders to see down a patient’s airway.
In addition to the community education and the new ambulance, the department will be kicking off a new bike program this week as well as celebrating EMS Week with a picnic at Twins Brook Park.
Laucella emphasized the importance of being part of a team — and how the award Monday represented a collaboration of different agencies working together in harmony.
“I can’t express enough gratitude to our police department,” he said. “They are the first responders on the scene for every medical call, and without their constant collaboration and assistance, the work we do wouldn’t be possible.
“We have a fantastic police department that prepares the scene before the ambulance arrives,” he added.
“We look at it is as a team and our relationship with our local police department and fire departments is what makes our community have such an exceptional first responder service — they’re fantastic teammates.”
Beyond the borders of Trumbull, the department continues to teach as well as learn from other organizations at state expos like the one being hosted in Hartford in June that will focus on mass preparedness protocol for tragedies involving mass casualties.
More locally, Trumbull EMS has leaned on Stratford’s agency to help it with the creation and training of the EMS Honor Guard, which covers duties such as flag carrying and ceremony processions for funerals and parades.
“Regional EMS in southwestern Connecticut is another example of how our services can be viewed as part of a whole,” Laucella said. “We need to keep learning about these strategies and tactics and implementing them here in Trumbull.”
40 years of service
Trumbull EMS has been around since the bicentennial in 1976. The agency will celebrate its 40th year in operation in December or January 2017.
Among its staff and volunteers, Laucella said, there are at least 15 members who have dedicated more than 20 years.
Most notable is Trumbull resident Vi Watson, an EMT volunteer who has been a part of the town’s department since its beginning. Last year, she was awarded the state’s Volunteer of the Year award.
“With our participation now and then, we’ve had thousands of volunteers over the years,” Laucella said. “Just last week, a gentleman came in who used to volunteer here and was talking about what it used to be like back in the day.”
With an established alumni base and a bright future, it’s hard to believe there’s a bigger accomplishment than the most recent Governor’s Award for Excellence.
“People often ask why we do it and the answer is simple: to help people,” Laucella explained. “We’re an organization that is built on neighbors helping neighbors, and to see residents who we have helped save walk through our doors is the best reward you can get in this job. …
“Our members are often putting in time doing work that nobody sees, and to be able to help a person in their time of greatest need and to hear that we got them through one of the worst days of their lives — there’s nothing better,” he said. “This is why we do this.”
Trumbull EMS is hosting its Explorer Program for 14- to-18-year-olds in the area as well as EMT classes that begin on June 27. For more information, call 203-452-5146.