Annual Award Recognizes Excellence in Prevention
By Jenifer Goodwin
On a spring morning in San Diego 13 years ago, Lynn Rosecrans-Artz got a call at work that changed her life forever. Nicholas, her 2-year-old son, had wandered from a home day care and fallen into a neighbor's ungated pool. Paramedics were able to get his heart beating again, but he had been under too long. Later that evening, Rosecrans-Artz made the decision to turn off life support. She held her child as he died.
The next months were a blur of grief and pain. Yet Rosecrans-Artz felt compelled to thank the paramedics who tried for 40 minutes to save her son. She wrote a letter thanking them.
The tragic call—and the heartfelt note sent by the heartbroken mother—started this mother and the paramedics from the station who had responded to the call on a mission to protect other children from preventable accidents.
"It was my hope that something positive would come from this, that it would not be a tragedy and nothing more," Rosecrans-Artz said.
In 1998, paramedics Paul Maxwell and Josh Krimston, along with several others, founded EPIC (Eliminating Preventable Injuries in Children) Medics, a nonprofit organization comprised of firefighters, paramedics and EMTs using their knowledge and experience to promote safety in their communities through public education and policy change. One of the organization's first successes was helping to secure passage of AB 3305, now known as the Swimming Pool Safety Act, which requires barriers around all new pool construction in California.
EPIC Medics' volunteers also organize local events, such as bike helmet giveaways and Safety City, a children's traffic safety course. "We partner with any fire department or agency that wants to do injury prevention," Krimston said. "We can provide resources, volunteers and the expertise needed to do it."
Shortly after launching their effort, the paramedics contacted Rosecrans-Artz. They wanted to establish an award to honor those within EMS showing excellence in injury prevention in their communities, and they wanted to name the award after Nicholas.
"That was the greatest tribute my son could have ever received," Rosecrans-Artz said. "I truly believe this was Nicholas' purpose on this earth. He inspired Josh and Paul to do all the wonderful work they have done. "
Each year, the award is presented at EMS Today, JEMS' annual conference in Baltimore. Most years, Rosecrans-Artz, who has since moved to Washingtonville, N.Y., presents the award. She is often joined by her 13-year-old son Noah, with whom she was 9 weeks pregnant when Nicholas died. Rosecrans-Artz also has a 10-year-old daughter, four stepchildren and two grandchildren.
Last year, the winner was the city of Edmonton EMS senior fall-prevention program. Previous winners have included organizations and individuals in EMS working to prevent children being hit by cars, accidents among teen-aged drivers and boating accidents.
"I truly believe it is saving lives," Rosecrans-Artz said. "That does my heart a lot of good."
For more information about EPIC's award-winning programs, visit epicmedics.org.