Paramedic of the Year Savannah Welch and EMT of the Year Samantha Blackwell with Chief Medical Officer Dr. Charles Burnell and Texas Medical Director Dr. Emily Kidd

Acadian Ambulance honored its Paramedic of the Year, Savannah Welch, and EMT of the Year, Samantha Blackwell, during its annual luncheon at the Cajundome in Lafayette, LA, on Tuesday, May 7, 2024. They were selected from 32 paramedics and EMTs who represent each of the company’s service areas, as well as Acadian Air Med and Safety Management Systems. All honorees were nominated and voted upon by their peers to be selected as their region’s Paramedic or EMT of the Year.

The luncheon also recognized the company’s entire medical team who display exemplary attitudes, tireless work ethic and dedication, and provide excellent patient care. 

Welch represents Acadian’s North Louisiana service area and Blackwell represents its South-Central Texas service area.

Welch joined Acadian Ambulance in 2019. After earning a degree in Kinesiology from Louisiana Tech in 2016, she embarked on an EMT course. She earned her paramedic and Critical Care Transport (CCT) paramedic certifications and currently works as a CCT Paramedic in Ouachita Parish. She has very recently earned the role of Paramedic Field Supervisor.

Beyond her core duties, Welch is esteemed as a mentor and field training officer. She garners respect from her colleagues, patients, and the local community. In late 2022, she and her EMT partner earned Meritorious Service Awards for going above and beyond in rescuing a patient from a submerged vehicle, proving that EMS is both rescue and healthcare service.

In pursuit of professional growth, Welch aims to acquire her Registered Nurse (RN) license and hold dual licensure.

Blackwell has been a hardworking team member with Acadian Ambulance since 2021. She currently works in Bexar County. She is always ready to help out with any task, whether it is cleaning the offices, checking the units, or assisting someone in need. She is skilled and knowledgeable, and someone her team trusts and respects.

It was through her grandmother’s influence that Blackwell developed a strong interest in EMS. Blackwell survived a severe car accident when she was 17 years old, where she suffered an aortic dissection, a fractured wrist, and broken ankles. 

Through it all, she has remained a positive person and it shows in the work she does. Blackwell brightens the halls with her laughter and smile, and she collaborates well with her peers and leadership. In early 2024, she was the recipient of Acadian’s President’s Performance Award.

She is a recent graduate of the National EMS Academy’s paramedic program and is now working as a paramedic.

Fred Mills Jr. was the celebration’s master of ceremonies, Louisiana State Senator Gerald Boudreaux recited the Pledge of Allegiance, Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel led the invocation, and National EMS Academy Education Coordinator Jennifer Melancon sang the national anthem.

The keynote speech was given by Matthew Kelly, an internationally acclaimed speaker and bestselling author. He spoke on the importance of gratitude and finding intrinsic meaning in the work we do. He shared that the secret to life is wanting the right things, and that life is a problem-solving activity.

Prior to the luncheon, Kelly spoke to more than 700 students at St. Thomas More High School to share his message of inspiration and faith.

In his closing remarks, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Blaise Zuschlag reflected on all those who support the company and its team, including first responders, elected officials, civic leaders, sponsors and guests. “I especially want to impart my gratitude to all of the Acadian team members and their families who are here today,” Zuschlag said.

Louisiana’s regional Paramedic and EMT of the Year honorees are:

Alli Hardy, Paramedic, Air Med
Brent Pellegrin, Paramedic, Bayou
Michele Jones, EMT, Bayou
KD Dunn, Paramedic, Capital
TJ Taylor, EMT, Capital
Jacob Fitzgerald, Paramedic, Central LA
Aaron Alger, EMT, Central LA
Sarah Arabie, Paramedic, Hub City
Brad LaPointe, EMT, Hub City
Savannah Welch, Paramedic, North LA
Sonya Norman, EMT, North LA
Lee Bingham, Paramedic, Northshore
Kole Bavaret, EMT, Northshore
Nikolaas van Hennekeler, Paramedic, Orleans
Lauren Perque, EMT, Orleans
Jon Anderson, Paramedic, SMS
Hollie Evans, Paramedic, Southwest LA
Martyna Hicks, EMT, Southwest LA

Mississippi’s regional Paramedic and EMT of the Year regional honorees are:

Kayleigh Dunham, Paramedic, Jackson County
Caroline Cash, EMT, Jackson County

Tennessee’s regional Paramedic and EMT of the Year regional honorees are: 

Patrick Garner, Paramedic, Tennessee
Michael Sweeney, EMT, Tennessee

Texas’ regional Paramedic and EMT of the Year regional honorees are: 

Sammie Herrera, Paramedic, Central Texas
Amber Guilbeau, EMT, Central Texas
Clayton Williams, Paramedic, Houston
Abraham Rios, EMT, Houston
Precious Duru, Paramedic, North Texas
Shawn Wells, EMT, North Texas
Garrett Ritter, Paramedic, South-Central Texas
Samantha Blackwell, EMT, South-Central Texas
Viviana Biehle, Paramedic, Southeast Texas
Shelby McCabe, EMT, Southeast Texas

Read more on each honoree.

Acadian Ambulance is one of the largest ambulance services in the nation, offering emergency and non-emergency transportation to areas in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Tennessee.

 Since 1971, Acadian Companies has been dedicated to providing the highest level of emergency medical care and transportation possible. The company has expanded to include a diverse suite of services designed to offer the very best support and education in health, safety, security, education and transportation.

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