EMS instructor awarded


Jordyn Toscano

EMT students practice how to put someone on a gurney with a neck and back brace.

Katie Loughran and Krys Shahin

This year’s California Emergency Medical Services Awards Program will be honoring Los Medanos College and Contra Costa College educator, Gretchen Medel, at a ceremony in San Francisco, Dec. 4 2019. 

According to Jennifer Lim, Deputy Director of Legislative, Regulatory and External Affairs at CEMSA, the EMS Awards Program, initiated in 2007,  “honors and recognizes exceptional acts and service by individuals working or volunteering in California’s emergency medical system.”

Medel will be receiving the EMS Educator of the Year award “for inspiring her students and teaching them to exemplify the principles of respect, integrity, and humility,” according to CEMSA. “She has proven that she genuinely cares about educating her students when deciding to continue teaching while also going through chemotherapy treatments. Gretchen’s impact has been far-reaching as she has touched and inspired those around her.”

“It’s fantastic and a good recognition for the work that she’s done,” said President of LMC Bob Kratochvil. 

One of Medel’s colleagues Mike Grillo, a Fire Technology department instructor at LMC, was also excited for Medel and her accomplishment.

“She’s real reliable and a valuable employee and is always there to take on additional workload … Her expertise allows her to relate a lot to our student EMS,” said Grillo.

Medel, who’s been teaching at LMC for more than eight years, is a part of the Emergency Medical Services programs at the LMC and CCC campuses. These programs help prepare students for careers in the emergency medical field by teaching them everything from first-aid and CPR to operating the latest life-saving technologies. EMS classes also help streamline student career searches by keeping them connected with the newest job openings in the Emergency Medical Technician field, such as local firefighters and paramedics.

The announcement of her nomination came as no surprise to Renzo Quitlong, a former student of Medel’s during the spring 2019 semester at LMC. Quitlong described the teacher as “Passionate, straight-forward, persistent, very reliable and very approachable.”

“Even though she was going through life challenges, she was always present at all times, most importantly even [after class], in the middle of the night or early in the morning. She showed no weakness and had unwavering support for the program and the candidates. We are all very thankful for that,” said Quitlong. “She truly deserves this award.”

Besides Medel’s history as an Emergency Medical Technician and as an educator, her tremendous efforts and contributions to the field as a whole made her a clear candidate to be nominated for the award. 

Andy Holifield, another former student of the instructor, also spoke highly of Medel.

“Gretchen Medel was a really wonderful instructor. She really tried her best to make sure we understood the material and constantly went above and beyond for us. I really enjoyed how much she cared about emergency medicine” said Holifield. “When she talked about her experiences as an EMT in Oakland, you can see how much it meant to her.”

The EMSA is accepting nominations for consideration for the 2020 California EMS Awards Program.

To nominate an EMS Hero for 2020, visit California Emergency Medical Services Authority’s website and search for “Statewide CA EMS Awards Nominations.”

The EMS Awards will take place at the Marines’ Memorial Club & Hotel in San Francisco, CA from 12 p.m. to  3 p.m., Wednesday Dec. 4, 2019.