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NAEMT Announces National Award Winners

Oct 01, 2009

NAEMT is pleased to announce its national award winners: Chris M. Honda, 2009 NAEMT Paramedic of the Year, and Linda Smith, 2009 NAEMT EMT of the Year.

Honda, of Hilo, Hawaii, and Smith, of Philip, South Dakota, are being honored through NAEMT's national awards program. The EMT of the Year Award is sponsored by Braun Industries, and the Paramedic of the Year Award is sponsored by Laerdal.

2009 NAEMT Paramedic of the Year

Chris M. Honda works for the Hawaii Fire Department as a fire fighter and mobile intensive care technician. He was nominated by Ralph M. Yawata, Battalion Chief, EMS Bureau of the Hawaii Fire Department, to recognize Honda’s role in maintaining its EMT training program when it was going to be severely delayed by a lack of EMT instructors available through the community college.


Honda took on the challenge of instructing the department’s 36th Recruit Class despite the commitment required, and for the next six months devoted hundreds of hours, including much personal time, to assure that his students received comprehensive instruction. This involved taking a loss in pay due to coming off the 24-hour fire line as well as temporarily foregoing what he loves best in his fire department career — providing advanced life support care for patients. In his nomination of Honda, Fire Chief Darryl Oliveira recognized him for making personal sacrifices to assure that the future of the department and the recruit training schedule wouldn’t be jeopardized.


Captain Lance Uchida, Honda’s company officer, notes that Honda is a dedicated and hard-working employee who continually demonstrates a genuine interest in his profession and is constantly improving his knowledge of medical advancements and advancing his skills by attending classes and cross training in other disciplines. “Chris is always willing to go above and beyond the call of duty and takes great pride in his profession. He has an excellent work attitude which radiates to his fellow employees and colleagues,” Uchida says.


Honda is a member of various committees and is actively involved in community service. He was instrumental in conceiving, coordinating and implementing an extremely successful Mother’s Day rose project that has raised more than $13,000 to date for the American Cancer Society. He is active in the department’s annual EMS Week and volunteers for Fire Prevention Week events, serves as a community first aid and CPR instructor, and speaks to students on fire and summer safety. “Chris is an asset to his team, department, county and the community in which he proudly serves,” says Uchida. “His desire to serve without any expectation of honors or recognition clearly demonstrates his unselfish commitment to public safety and community service and illustrates that he has embodied the Hawaii Fire Department’s mission statement, ‘…dedicated to serve with pride, honor and compassion.’ He is truly deserving of this award.”


“I am extremely honored to be the recipient of this award,” says Honda. “I consider myself fortunate to have selected a career that I enjoy and still find exciting even after over 15 years of service. Being recognized by my peers and receiving such a prestigious award is more than I ever could have hoped for.”

2009 NAEMT EMT of the Year

Linda Smith has worked as an EMT for 24 years and currently serves as an EMT-Intermediate and Service Training Officer for Kadoka Ambulance. Offices she has held include Philip Ambulance Director, Kadoka Ambulance Training Officer, District 5 Vice President and South Dakota EMT Association Historian. Smith was nominated by colleague Stacy Grace, South Dakota State Training Officer.

Smith was awarded 2008 EMT of the Year from the South Dakota EMT Association, for which she currently serves as EMT Historian and CPR Instructor. She is a member of the Central SD Critical Incidence Stress Management Team and has instructed various trauma and medical classes and has served as coordinator of EMT classes hosted by her department. Smith has been active in teaching for the state and has taught CPR for various communities. She also is a member of the State Test Team for Student EMTs. She has been active in attending state EMS conventions for the past 20 years as well as national conventions. For Philip Health Service, she handled a wide variety of responsibilities, including coordination of their Bioterrorism and Pandemic Awareness programs.

Additionally, Smith has been active in volunteering as an EMT at the Sturgis Bike Rally for three years, the South Dakota State Fair, the Central States Fair, at an annual July Mount Rushmore event, and for the Oahe Speedway, WWII Veterans Memorial and Vietnam Veterans Memorial. She also volunteers in her church, the area Red Cross and Cornerstone Mission.

Kadoka Ambulance Service President Jackie Stilwell notes that Smith has contributed countless hours to her community as a volunteer EMT for the past two-plus decades. “Linda is very active as an EMT and strives to keep her skills sharp by attending numerous trainings,” Stilwell says. “She is a very compassionate person who cares for patients as if they were her own family, with compassion and professionalism. I cannot think of a more deserving person for this award.”


“To be recognized like this among my peers is an extreme honor and also very humbling,” says Smith.


National award winners receive a $1,000 award stipend, free travel, lodging for three nights and registration for EMS EXPO 2009, where the award will be presented at the NAEMT General Membership Meeting on October 27 and at the opening ceremony of EMS EXPO on October 28.