SF EMS Awardees Recognized for Excellence in Emergency Medical Services

May 21 to May 27 is National Emergency Medical Service Week
May 25, 2023

San Francisco, CA – As part of the annual and national Emergency Medical Service (EMS) week, San Francisco Department of Emergency Management (DEM), Emergency Medical Services Agency (EMSA) hosted the annual EMS Awards ceremony to honor San Francisco’s EMS professional and community members whose outstanding achievement and contribution exemplifies the professionalism and compassion to the San Francisco’s emergency medical services community.

“Today we honor the dedication and commitment of all our San Francisco EMS providers who come to the aid of those most in need every day,” said Mayor London Breed. “From our 911 dispatchers taking the call from someone experiencing a medical emergency, to the first responders stabilizing and transporting them, to the nurses and doctors who provide complex medical care, I am extremely proud of our entire EMS community.”

“San Francisco’s emergency medical system is run by talented 911 dispatchers, EMTs, paramedics, doctors, and nurses committed to doing what’s best for patient care, “said Mary Ellen Carroll, Executive Director, San Francisco Department of Emergency Management. “Each of our EMS heroes plays an essential role in the lifeline of emergency medical care. We salute and honor their incredible work.”

The National Emergency Medical Services Week brings together local communities and medical personnel to honor the dedication of those who provide the day-to-day lifesaving services of medicine's ‘front line.’ This year’s theme is Where emergency care begins. As part of how San Francisco participates in EMS week, the San Francisco EMS Agency hosts the annual EMS Awards to honor outstanding achievement and contribution to the San Francisco EMS System in eight categories: 1. Dispatcher; 2. First Responder; 3. Field Provider; 4. Hospital Provider; 5. Community Participant; 6. The lifetime achievement award called, the Ray Lim Excellence in EMS Award; 7. Mary Magocsy Excellence in EMS and Disaster Leadership Award; and new for this year 8. The inaugural Community Paramedicine and Triage to Alternate Destination Provider of the Year award [Please find details about this year’s award recipients on page 2].

 “The annual San Francisco EMS Awards highlight excellent emergency medical care,” said San Francisco Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson. “Although it is not possible to recognize the many outstanding actions by our EMS providers, these awards provide a small thank you to those individuals who have found themselves in challenging environments and performed exceptionally well under extraordinary difficult circumstances. Thank you for all you do and keep up the great work.”

“The annual EMS Awards program honors and acknowledges EMS system personnel and community members who go above and beyond in service to the City and County of San Francisco’s EMS System,” said Andrew Holcomb, the San Francisco Emergency Medical Services Agency Director. “It is so important to recognize and celebrate our city’s exceptional EMS providers, 911 dispatchers, EMTs, paramedics, first responders, nurses, doctors, and community members that support emergency medical care.”


“For those who may not be familiar with the work of our EMS teams, the rigor of practice, commitment to caring, and generosity of spirit our providers show at the patient’s side with expertise and compassion is remarkable,” said Dr. John Brown, Medical Director for the San Francisco Emergency Medical Services Agency. “From your home to your neighborhood, to your workplace, to places of leisure, to locations suffering from natural and man-made disasters, EMS is there. All the medical resources you can imagine are not accessible unless EMS personnel can care for the patient in need when and where help is needed. 

The San Francisco Emergency Medical Service Agency is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2023 EMS Award Winners, which are as follows:


EMS System Dispatcher Award: Danny Mac, San Francisco Department of Emergency Management On November 29th, 2022, a bystander called 911 and reported a 10-month-old infant was unresponsive in Moscone Park.  The child had been playing on the playground when his caregiver realized the infant was not breathing. 911 Dispatcher Danny Mac received the call, and within 40 seconds, he was able to pinpoint the infant's exact location in the park, entered a code 3 EMS call for service with the comment, "baby is not awake or breathing", making it possible for the Hot Seat to dispatch units on scene within two minutes. While medics were en-route, Danny immediately instructed the caller to start infant CPR. Danny remained calm and in control throughout. It is difficult for a 911 dispatcher to remotely handle a need for CPR because the dispatcher is unable to see or touch the patient. Yet, Danny acted without hesitation, and gave the necessary CPR instructions that contributed, along with the efforts of our EMS and Hospital partners, to saving the infant’s life. His actions that day says a lot about his dedication to service, adherence to training and strong CPR skills.  

EMS System First Responder Award: Ranger Jhoeare Mariano, San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department–Ranger Jhoeare Mariano is commended for reversing a near fatal overdose in the Victoria Manolo Draves park where he encountered a woman who had ingested fentanyl and was unconscious and barely breathing. Ranger Mariano immediately administered Narcan, of which the first dose did not work, and without administered a second dose, which was effective. Thanks to Ranger Mariano's quick thinking and actions were instrumental in saving this young woman's life.


EMS System Field Provider Award: Chih Ren Nicholas Koo, EMT-P, San Francisco Fire Department–Paramedic Koo is commended for his dedication making emergency medical services a more equitable system by breaking down language barriers. He published a quick translation book with pictograms and developed a hands only CPR instructional video for Cantonese and Mandarin speaking communities. Currently, Paramedic Koo is developing easy access information cards containing patient’s relevant medical history and medications so that first responders can more readily render care in emergency situations. Paramedic Koo also is commended for saving a woman who was hit by a car and suffered significant facial trauma and airway obstruction. Paramedic Koo promptly and correctly used the rarely needed and difficult procedure: Needle Cricothyrotomy with Jet Insufflation to keep the patient from asphyxiating while being transported to the hospital. His actions saved this patient’s life while validating how vital pre-hospital ALS interventions are.


EMS System Hospital Provider Award: Curtis Geier, PharmD, BCCCP Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital–Dr. Geier is commended to ensuring EMS initiatives, protocols, and medications are accurate and evidence based and for developing protocol changes related to medication shortages and formulary changes. Most recently, he helped develop a major overhaul of EMS epinephrine protocols, and helped EMS navigate shortages of both epinephrine and midazolam, two essential medications used in EMS response.

EMS System Community Award: Students and Instructors of Mission High School Fire/EMS PathwayThe Mission High School Fire/EMS program is commended for teaching students the skills needed to be a firefighter and EMT.

Participating students take elective dual enrollment classes, built into the normal school day, through SF City College where they get high school and college credit at the same time. Chosen for their outstanding academic commitment, Mission High School students Amaya Jarzombek, Aidan Riordan, Mutee Al Gahfaar Juan Ornelas, Brie Hernandez, and Natalia Marshall received the award on behalf of the program.


EMS System Raymond Lim Excellence in EMS Award: Scott Wagness, EMT-P, San Francisco Fire Department– Paramedic Scott Wagness is commended for his extraordinary collaboration in the professional community and for bridging the gap between EMT/paramedic and the hospital clinician. Recognizing the infrequent nature of pediatric encounters in San Francisco may make providers hesitant in their treatments, Paramedic Wagness created a pediatric drug reference guide. Having such an approachable tool at the paramedics’ fingertips makes what are already intense encounters that much smoother.

EMS System Mary Magocsy Excellence in EMS and Disaster Leadership Award: Chief Michael Mason San Francisco Fire Department–Chief Michael Mason is commended for his commitment to community paramedicine. His contributions to community paramedicine include developing the overdose and street crisis response teams, Buprenorphine implementation, and Quality Improvement implementation. Chief Mason is a mentor for all who work with him and does anything he can to help anyone in the department and beyond.

Community Paramedicine Provider of the Year Award: San Francisco Fire Department Captain Chris Couch–Captain Chris Couch is commended for being a stellar Community Paramedicine Provider and for his advocacy to help the most socially and medically complex patients in the EMS System. She demonstrates empathy, superb communication, and excellent teamwork skills in both the clinical environment and during EMS6 case conferences. Captain Couch is known for meeting her clients where they are, whether in emergency rooms to advocate for better care, visiting vulnerable patients in their homes, connecting with them on the streets, and encouraging them to call her directly, she always exhibits a calm warm, and empathetic demeaner with her clients so they can feel heard, seen, and accepted.

About DEM and EMSA:

The Department of Emergency Management provides various emergency management functions and consists of the Division of Emergency Communications (911); the Division of Emergency Services (DES); and the Emergency Medical Services Agency (EMSA). DEC is responsible for receiving 911 calls and dispatching police, fire, and EMS services. DES is responsible for developing citywide emergency plans, activating the City’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and preparing citizens for all-hazards events (such as earthquakes, terrorism, and tsunamis). EMSA provides oversight for the Emergency Medical Services System in San Francisco.

Since 1989, EMSA directs, monitors, and evaluates the San Francisco Emergency Medical Services System in collaboration with 911 Call Center, public, private, hospitals, and community members. EMS Agency provides the best possible emergency care to the residents and visitors of the City and County of San Francisco. The Emergency Medical Services Agency also serves as the Medical Health Operational Area Coordinator (MHOAC) is responsible for coordinating mutual aid resource requests, facilitating the development of Medical/Health response plans, and implementing the Medical/Health plans during a disaster response.