Brunswick County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Training Coordinator Richard Burns has been selected as the state’s EMS Officer of the Year by the North Carolina American Legion. Burns, a 23-year veteran with Brunswick County Emergency Services, is a paramedic and the certified paramedic instructor for the county.
“Frankly, I was surprised and amazed when I heard that I had been selected,” Burns said. “Especially in this year when there are so many EMS people across the state working very hard due to COVID-19.”
He said a lot of recognition should go out to those individuals for their efforts over the difficult past year.
“EMS people have been working up to this over the years, but 2020 (was) a very tangible marker as to how we measure effectiveness of the system,” said Burns, adding, “So I am very honored and humbled to receive this recognition.”
Burns was nominated for the statewide honor by George Freeman, Commander of American Legion post 543 in St. James.
“I know Rich personally and have had the opportunity to work at his side in EMS,” Freeman noted. “He is responsible for the quality of first responder medical care offered by more than 500 emergency medical technicians across Brunswick County. No matter how demanding the task, Rich consistently yields exceptional results.”
As a level two paramedic instructor, Burns has been serving in a dual role: in addition to being the county’s paramedic training head, he also serves as instructor for the paramedic training program at Brunswick Community College. Most recently, he was instrumental in establishing community education programs such as hands-only CPR and “stop the bleed” training.
Brunswick County Emergency Services works with churches, schools and other community organizations to provide this training. The county’s hands-only CPR program, for example, has trained thousands of county residents, resulting in a significant statistical decrease in deaths due to cardiac arrest.
The American Legion is the largest wartime veterans service organization with nearly two million members and more than 12,000 posts throughout America, including 301 posts in North Carolina. Established by an act of Congress in 1919, The American Legion was instrumental in getting the original GI Bill through Congress and in creation of the Department of Veterans Affairs.