Greg Harwood, EMT-P, is the ultimate healthcare professional. His career embodies what it means to serve others. On October 10, 2012, the Missouri Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) honored Greg and his storied healthcare career by naming him ‘Person of the Year.’ It’s one of the highest honors the organization gives out each year.
“Greg is incredibly deserving of this recognition,” says Helen Sandkuhl, past president and member of the Missouri ENA. “He is an outstanding paramedic and leader in his field. Greg has always put his patients first and worked respectfully with his peers and area medical staff. He truly deserves to be commended for his contributions to emergency medicine and the St. Louis community.”
For more than 33 years, Greg has worked as a licensed paramedic in the St. Louis region, treating and caring for patients and training more than 500 paramedics and EMTs. After graduating from Forest Park Community College, Greg began his career with the City of St. Louis EMS. He then worked as an EMS liaison for MARC (Medical Air Rescue Corporation) which is now ARCH Air Medical Service. In fact, Greg was the first paramedic to fly on emergency transport missions. He also helped train emergency nurses for helicopter missions and instructed other paramedics through a program at Saint Louis University Hospital.
“SLU Hospital was one of the only hospitals in the region to use a helicopter for transport missions,” says Greg. “I was thrilled to be among the first group of licensed paramedics to participate in these missions. It’s been really rewarding to see how the program has evolved from its earliest days.”
Eventually, Greg joined the Mehlville Fire District, where he worked as a paramedic for 19 years. He continued to teach other paramedics on a part-time basis. However, after suffering a painful back injury, Greg opted for early retirement. He decided to pursue another aspect of the paramedic field by joining Abbott EMS as a business development consultant.
In this new role, Greg uses his paramedic experience to support special projects. One such project is the SCT (specialty care transport) vehicle, which is staffed by paramedics trained in critical care, and includes ventilators, IVs and other advanced medical care equipment. Greg is helping to market the SCT vehicle to rural hospitals around the region. Although he really enjoys the new opportunities he’s discovered, Greg also misses caring for patients.
“It was a tough decision to retire early from my career as a paramedic,” says Greg. “Once I retired, I really missed being able to help people. I knew I needed to find another way to give back in a meaningful way. ”
That’s when Greg began volunteering at the St. Louis Effort for AIDS – the largest service organization for AIDS in the region. Six years later, he’s serving as board president of the organization. It’s a role that allows Greg to help others and really make a difference.
After his many years of service, winning the Missouri ENA’s ‘Person of the Year’ was an incredible honor for Greg. “Receiving this recognition is very humbling, particularly at the end of my career,” says Greg. “I feel like I’ve come full circle. Emergency nurses trained me at the beginning of my career, teaching me a lot about patient care and how to interact with families. And now, this same group is recognizing me for the work and dedication that they helped instill in me.”
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