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Hall Ambulance recognizes employee excellence at annual Hall EMT Awards

Hall CEO Johnathan Surface says the 20 employees recognized at the Hall EMT Awards represent the best of the best.
hall ambulance awards 2023
Posted at 5:51 PM, May 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-25 22:31:31-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — It's National EMS Week, and Kern County's Hall Ambulance showed their gratitude for their outstanding employees who they say have gone above and beyond this year. From picking up extra shifts to learning extra skills and more, Hall Ambulance recognized the dedication and service of their EMTs with an awards ceremony on Thursday, May 25.

Organizers of the awards event referred to the awardees as humble, which is exactly the kind of demeanor they showed at the ceremony.

Chief Operating Officer for Hall Ambulance Johnathon Surface says the 20 employees recognized at Thursday's ceremony are the best of the best and stand out amongst others.

Family and friends of awardees were also at the ceremony, cheering on their loved ones as they received their awards.

Surface acknowledged how down-to-earth each employee is while on the job.

"A quality that Rod and Shrey and Felipe all have in common is they're all 3 incredibly humble," said Surface.

Felipe Hernandez won the award for EMT of the Year, and although he says he is grateful for the recognition, Hernandez says his team deserves the credit.

"I don't think I'm that deserving of this award because there's lots of people," said Hernandez. "There's 400 of us, and they're more deserving. I feel they're more deserving than I am."

Hernandez has been a part of Hall Ambulance for 21 years and has picked up an additional 60 shifts in the last year alone. Hernandez was surprised by the award, and said he was just doing his job.

"When I come here, I just come here to do my job, try to do it the best that I can, and I never thought it would be enough to get me an award. I just thought that I was doing my job," said Hernandez.

The award for Paramedic of the Year was given to Shrey Patel. Patel joined Hall Ambulance with no prior knowledge about the job. He was recognized for his drive to improve his skillset, recently taking on additional training to become a relief supervisor.

Patel had previous jobs, but he says being a paramedic feels like his first real job. He has picked up an extra 26 shifts, and says what he finds most rewarding about the job probably isn't what most people would assume.

"It's not even what most people think of. It's mainly when I'm able to comfort a patient," said Patel. "They're having, obviously, the worst time of their life at that point. If I'm able to comfort them, their family, and just make them feel a little more relaxed."

Patel says working as an EMT isn't just a job, but also brings him a feeling of family.

Julianne Solano, who was awarded Dispatcher of the Year, started at Hall Ambulance in 2018. She left briefly, returning again in 2021. She says the reason for her return is because she missed the feeling of family she had at Hall.

"Honestly, I love the people that I work with and I love working for Hall Ambulance," said Solano. "I left and then I came back 'cause I just wasn't comfortable. I wanted to go back to something that I knew that I loved, and that was working here."

Solano maintains a high performance record, fielding almost 8,500 calls in the last year alone. She also trained two new hires that year.

This year's Hall Ambulance Awards was also an opportunity to recognize the long-term contributions of recently retired EMT Les Hutchison, awarding him the Employee Excellence Award.


Les Hutchinson: Something new every day for 50 years

Hutchison has been a part of Hall Ambulance for 50 years and is the second employee to receive the Employee Excellence Award. As Lavonne Hall herself presented the award, Hutchison expressed his gratitude to the Halls, saying that Hall Ambulance is his second family.

"It's a small enough company that it's a family environment. It's perfect," said Hutchison. "In addition to that, Mr. Hall has taken care of me for literally decades."

Lavonne Hall recalled the first day she worked with Hutchison almost 39 years ago, remembering the lessons he taught her and how compassionate he is with patients.

The building Hall Ambulance occupies was built in 1978, and during the construction, Harvey Hall, along with Hutchison and other early Hall paramedics, signed a 2-by-4 to commemorate the history being made.

Hutchison worked alongside Mr. Hall in the early years of his career. He says his most common question asked is why he's stayed so long. He says the answer is quite simple.

"Every day was something new and different and exciting, and it was never boring," said Hutchison. "I think that being able to do something new and different every day really kept my interest."

Along with furthering his expertise over the years, Hutchison is also known for helping teach 2 major safety programs when it comes to driving. He is also responsible for the development of the low-force driving technique, which caters to patients during transports.

Because of his passion for his career and teaching, Hall Ambulance estimates that Hutchison has trained more than 1,500 EMTs during his career.

As he moves on to retirement, Hutchison says he is ready to start taking it easy. He's looking forward to taking care of his cat and spending more time with his grandkids.

Hutchison ended his award acceptance speech with many thank yous, while also reflecting on his time with Hall Ambulance.

"I've had a lot of fun, and so why not stay through for that 50 years? Why would I want to give that up? It's fantastic!"