MANATEE -- While Manatee County Emergency Medical Services is formally recognized for its accomplishments one day a year, the emergency workers stand united the other 364 days, paramedic Kristin Kray said Wednesday at the EMS Awards Ceremony.
"Today, we celebrate us as a family," said Kray, who received the Special Teams Award for her work in the EMS Honor Guard. "We are a tight-knit group."
Kray was one of more than 40 individuals recognized in the ceremony at the county Public Safety Building. Winners were selected by an Awards Committee made up of EMS members.
The ceremony during the 41st National EMS week honored men and women in the following categories: years of service, unit citation, special teams, military service and employee dedication.
Individual honors include: Lifesaving Award, Phoenix Award, Genesis Award, Rookie of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, EMT of the Year, Paramedic of the Year and Chief's Commendation.
Jeremy Peterson, a county emergency medical technician for 12 years, was named EMT of the Year.
"It's an honor," said Peterson, who was joined at the ceremony by his wife and daughter. "There are a lot of really good people we work with."
Angie Hadlock, named Paramedic of the Year, said she was surprised at receiving the honor and by her mother's appearance at the ceremony.
"It's just kind of shocking and an honor," said Hadlock, a paramedic in Manatee County for more than nine years.
Rookie of the Year Jesse Stine, who also received the Genesis Award for delivering a baby, said he was not expecting the recognition.
"It was a shock," Stine said. "It's cool to be recognized. I'm just here because I like being here."
Mark Regis, who received the Employee Dedication Award, said professionalism, dedication, compassion, commitment and sense of community have stayed the same in Manatee County EMS over the years.
"We are a family," Regis said. "We love and care deeply for what we do. ... Remember, we all do make a difference."
EMS Chief Stephen Krivjanik said the week "honors the dedication of those that provide the day-to-day lifesaving services of medicine's frontline."
As Manatee County grows, EMS also is growing, Krivjanik said. In 2015, it is projected EMS will respond to more than 48,000 calls.
"It is a simple reality that we must recognize the impact on all EMS and health care partners and become more flexible and creative when treating the increasingly large number of patients," he said.
Bob Smith, county Public Safety Department director, said he appreciates the professionalism and dedication shown by the county workers.
"I ask you to continue on the job that you are doing," Smith said. "There are great things on the horizon for EMS in this county. It is a great time to be part of Manatee County EMS."
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024 or at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.