Brave, dedicated, willing and reliable - these words describe the 80,000 licensed or certified Emergency Medical Services (EMS) providers in California. They demonstrate these qualities every day by coming to the aid of others when they are most in need and working to ensure that the EMS system operates well. However, each year, due to circumstance or extraordinary effort, certain individuals among us shine.
Sacramento County EMS
Director, Dr. Hernando Garzon was named as the 2020 EMS Medical Director of the Year for his heroic acts and extraordinary contributions to EMS by the California Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) earlier this month.
The EMSA seeks to recognize those individuals through the California Emergency Medical Services Awards Program. The awards program honors special accomplishments, meritorious and heroic acts, innovations or fresh ideas to improve EMS in the state, or other unique and/or significant contributions by EMS personnel, physicians, nurses, EMTs, other medical providers, local officials, members of the law enforcement community, citizens, and first responders.
Dr. Garzon was selected for his tireless efforts and selfless leadership during the COVID-19 response. Through a long career in disaster response, Dr. Garzon learned how to organize a systematic approach and efficiently mitigate a large-scale incident.
During the pandemic, Dr. Garzon assisted the state by building models and predictive theories, enabling local and statewide leaders to be better prepared to respond to the approaching “storm” of patients. He continued leading one of the largest EMS systems in the state, guiding the development of an “Emerging Infectious Disease” policy that provided direction and clarity to the greater EMS community about a sensible approach to preventing transmission of the COVID-19 virus, mitigating the spread of the disease among the workforce, and safe return to work guidelines.
“I most enjoy working on EMS system-wide and quality improvement issues, because I see that as the key to ensuring the highest quality prehospital care for all people in Sacramento County,” said Dr. Garzon. “I also still enjoy Emergency Department shifts and caring for patients.”
When asked what a typical work day might look like for him, Dr. Garzon said “between clinical work, EMS work, and COVID-19 work with EMSA/CDPH in the last year, I don’t really have a “typical’ work day. Of late, they have generally started with multiple conference calls, and a mix of Sacramento and State EMS work, as well as CDPH work for COVID-19. Several times a month I also get to throw in late afternoon Emergency Department shifts to round it out.”
Dr. Garzon’s Notable COVID-19 Projects
- Assisted EMSA with the State EMS COVID guidelines and response
- Developed a template for local EMS tiered response during COVID surge
- Developed a Hospital COVID-19 Burden Score to rank hospital strain with COVID-19
- Lead the effort to write state pandemic crisis care guidelines
- Assisting with development of the Alternate Care Site (ACSs) operations guidelines
- Facilitated patient inter-facility transfers to off-load over-burdened hospitals during COVID-19 patient surges
- Developing a simple growth model to project ICU availability that was used to determine when the State entered and exited the Stay-At-Home-Order.
Sacramento County Department of Health Services has tremendous gratitude and thanks Dr. Garzon for all his important work. Please join us in congratulating him on this achievement.