CLEARWATER — May 19-25 is Emergency Medical Services Week, and in advance of the annual event, Pinellas County Commissioners took time to thank the 1,900 EMS personnel in the county’s system.

Commissioners also recognized this year’s EMS Professionals of the Year during the May 7 meeting.

The 2019 Emergency Dispatcher is Kathy Boucher, a 911 quality assurance specialist at the county’s Regional 911 Center. Boucher is a 12-year county employee.

Kyle Turner is the Emergency Medical Technician of the Year. He has worked for Sunstar for two years.

Maya Daniels, field training officer and paramedic at Sunstar, is the Paramedic of the Year. Daniels is a seven-year employee of Sunstar.

Daniels’ unique style of patient care and compassion during stressful times is why she was selected as paramedic of the year, according to a video about the award winners. Daniels says whenever she responds to a call, she thinks of her late grandmother, who she cared for while in EMT school.

“I always think this could be a family member. This could be someone I know and I love,” Daniels said in the video.

She says you have to show care and compassion to every single person “because you never know what they’re going through or who loves them because they’re loved by someone.”

Daniels received praise for remaining calm in high-stress situations and for passing on her philosophy to the medics she trains.

“Just remember the reason that we’re there,” she tells her trainees. “They call 911 because they need someone and right now, you’re that someone.”

In the video, Turner says he loves the unpredictability of his job. He says he has to think fast in unfamiliar situations and remain calm when a transport escalates. He was recognized for his actions taken when a patient being transported to a hospital in Tampa became unstable and had a seizure.

It was a routine transport out of county, traveling over the bridge to Tampa during rush hour traffic, he said. Turner began caring for the patient immediately and directed the driver to head to the nearest hospital.

“She really didn’t wake up until we got to the hospital,” he said. “Then by time I left, it was great because she was able to talk to me and have a conversation with me. It was a great to see and a good outcome.”

Turner might not have become an EMT if not for a snakebite when he was in the sixth grade. A friend’s father from Seminole Fire Rescue treated him and Turner then knew what he wanted to do when he grew up.

“It’s a great feeling when you know the people that are working on you,” he said. “This county is unbelievable. Everybody is top notch.”

Turner’s family has lived in Clearwater since the 1880s. The Turner Bungalow is currently undergoing preparations to open at Heritage Village.

Boucher was recognized for helping save a patient’s life during a 911 call involving chest pain. The caller became unresponsive, stopped breathing and his pulse stopped. Boucher talked his friend through how to do CPR while they waited for help to arrive.

“Listen carefully. I’m going to tell you how to do chest compressions,” Boucher is heard saying during the video.

“Me and my caller did everything that we could with what we were given,” Boucher said. “I couldn’t have done it without my caller. There’s no way. If I had any pushback, anything like that, the outcome wouldn’t be the same. Then after that — St. Petersburg Fire Rescue, Sunstar, all the staff at the hospital — it should be an award for everybody.”

The honorees received an unspecified monetary reward from the Pinellas Federal Credit Union, which has supported the annual EMS Professionals of the Year Awards for 29 years.

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at sporter@tbnweekly.com.