Tooele County’s first responders were recognized for their contributions at a First Responder Appreciation Lunch on Wednesday, hosted by Mountain West Medical Center.
Jonny Thatcher, Tooele County Emergency Medical Services Council chairman, presented the awards, which ranged the entirety of emergency medical response, from dispatchers through emergency medical technicians. The lunch was held outside the medical center near the emergency room.
Tooele County Sheriff’s Sgt. Heather Prescott received the Tooele County EMS Dispatcher of the Year award, in recognition of her 13 years of service and two lifesaving awards she received this year.
Tooele County EMT of the Year was awarded to Joshua Karabatsos, a firefighter and EMT with Tooele Army Depot for the past three years.
“He helped instruct all of his peers and he responds to medicals not only on base, but off base,” Thatcher said.
Mountain West Ambulance’s Joseph Aune was recognized as Advanced EMT of the Year. Aune has been with the agency for about two years, according to Thatcher.
“He continually maintains not only a professional, but just an all-around good attitude, on and off call,” Thatcher said.
The Tooele County Paramedic of the Year was presented to Jared Wright with Mountain West Ambulance, in part due to his 13 years of service in the county. Wright has also recently begun teaching numerous EMT and Advanced EMT classes with a high success rate, according to Thatcher.
“His knowledge of the area and of what to do on calls is impressive,” Thatcher said.
Five agencies received the Tooele County Event of the Year: Mountain West Ambulance, Air Med, Tooele County Sheriff’s Office, North Tooele Fire District and Utah Highway Patrol.
The event occurred last September, when a red Jeep Liberty traveling southbound on state Route 36 struck another vehicle while attempting a lane change. The vehicle lost control, crossed into the northbound lanes and struck a Honda Civic head-on.
The driver and passenger of the Jeep were airlifted to a Salt Lake-area hospital and the driver of the Honda suffered fatal injuries.
The crash, which occurred in Lake Point, temporarily closed both directions of travel on SR-36 at the ramps to Exit 99.
“That was a huge thing in our county and it involved a lot of players,” Thatcher said. “And for as bad as the situation was, it could have been a lot worse.”