Recognizing an exceptional paramedic on EMS Week (May 19-25)

May 20, 2019


After 20 years as a paramedic, you would think Steve Lee with American Ambulance in Hanford, has seen it all. But to this day, he still arrives to scenes that surprise him.

“Just recently, I was called to the scene of an accident involving several vehicles and three cows on Highway 99. That’s not something you see every day,” he says.

Lee is a well-known and well-respected paramedic in the Adventist Health Hanford Emergency Department (ED), where he transports many patients.

Since this is National Emergency Medical Services Week (May 19-25), we asked the Adventist Health ED team to name an exceptional paramedic, and Lee was top of mind:

“If I needed a paramedic to come to my door, he would be the one I would want to treat me,” says Elvia Hamner, care coordinator.

“Steve is an astounding guy and a wonderful paramedic. I would trust him with my own life, any day, especially because he’s a Dodgers fan,” says Amanda Augustus, monitor technician.

“Steve is always pleasant and professional when dropping off patients,” says Suzanne Downing, RN. “He remains calm no matter how chaotic his day is…”

“Steve is very thorough and takes excellent care of his patients, making them feel safe and cared for,” says Lieslle Sprague, RN.

These comments are among dozens that mirror the same sentiments.

Humbled by these kind words, Lee says he values the relationships he’s formed with the Adventist Health ED staff and his own co-workers.

“There’s a trust factor,” he says. “You rely on each other and trust that they’re going to do the best job in taking care of the patient.”

As a paramedic, Lee’s job is to check vital signs and assess the person on scene. He then determines whether the person needs to be resuscitated, medicated or shocked with a defibrillator. Once he arrives to the hospital, he works closely with the ED staff to share his knowledge of the patient’s condition.

Over the years, Lee has seen improvements in his field because of advancements in technology. Instead of picking up a gurney with the patient, equipment that’s installed in the ambulance helps load the gurney, which keeps the patient and paramedic safe from injury. He also no longer writes his reports by hand. Instead, he enters them into digital devices.

The medical field wasn’t Lee’s first career choice. As a young student at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, he thought he was destined to be in law enforcement. But one of his friends convinced Lee to enter the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) program. After a few ride-a-longs with a local ambulance company, the rest was history.

“I remember watching the paramedics and how well they worked together,” Lee says. “I wanted to be a part of that camaraderie.”

Right after receiving his certification, Lee was hired to work in his hometown of Visalia in 1996. He remembers his first day on the job. “I had just completed my evaluation to get released into the field,” he says. “Right after picking up my EMS card, I was placed into an ambulance to respond to a pediatric cardiac arrest and a shooting on the same day. That was definitely the ‘Oh, wow’ moment.”

Even after 20 years on the job, Lee still has ‘Oh, wow’ moments.

He tells the students he trains that no matter how much they think they’ll be ready for this role, they won’t be.

“They just have to make the best decisions they can based on their training,” he says. “I’m still learning new things, to this day, but I take pride in the time that I’ve had.”

Thank you for all you do for our patients and communities.