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County firefighter named national Paramedic of the Year for 2009


A County of Hawaii firefighter and mobile intensive care technician has been named the Paramedic of the Year for 2009 by the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT).

Chris Honda

Chris Honda

Chris M. Honda, 37, has served as a Hawaii County firefighter/paramedic for nearly 10 years, including assignments in Honokaa and at the Central Fire Station.

Honda was nominated for the national award by Ralph M. Yawata, Battalion Chief, EMS Bureau of the Hawaii County Fire Department, to recognize Honda’s role in maintaining the department’s EMT training program.

Yawata said the training program was in danger of stalling after a key instructor in the emergency medical services training program offered at Hawaii Community College retired at the end of 2007.

No replacement was available, which meant the training for a firefighter recruit class of about 15 students would have to be delayed.

Honda took on the challenge of instructing the department’s 36th Recruit Class despite the commitment required, and for the next six months devoted hundreds of hours, including much personal time, to assure that his students received comprehensive instruction.

This involved taking a loss in pay when he came off the 24-hour fire line, Honda also had to temporarily forego what he loves best in his fire department career — providing advanced life support care for patients.

Honda was also the County of Hawaii Employee of the Year in 2008.

Honda was raised in Hawaii Kai on Oahu, and is a graduate of Kaiser High School. He attended the University of Hawaii at Hilo, and graduated with a bachelor’s of arts degree in liberal studies. He played baseball for the UH-Hilo Vulcans from 1990 to 1994, and also has an associates degree in paramedics through Kapiolani Community College.

In his nomination of Honda, Fire Chief Darryl Oliveira recognized Honda for making personal sacrifices to assure that the future of the department and the recruit training schedule wouldn’t be jeopardized.

Captain Lance Uchida, Honda’s company officer, said Honda is a dedicated and hard-working employee who continually demonstrates a genuine interest in his profession. Honda is constantly improving his knowledge of medical advancements and advancing his skills by attending classes and cross training in other disciplines.

“Chris is always willing to go above and beyond the call of duty and takes great pride in his profession. He has an excellent work attitude which radiates to his fellow employees and colleagues,” Uchida said.

Honda is a member of various committees and is actively involved in community service. He was instrumental in conceiving, coordinating and implementing an extremely successful Mother’s Day rose project that has raised more than $13,000 to date for the American Cancer Society.

He is also active in the department’s annual EMS Week and volunteers for Fire Prevention Week events; serves as a community first aid and CPR instructor; and speaks to students on fire and summer safety.

“Chris is an asset to his team, department, county and the community in which he proudly serves,” said Uchida. “His desire to serve without any expectation of honors or recognition clearly demonstrates his unselfish commitment to public safety and community service and illustrates that he has embodied the Hawaii Fire Department’s mission statement, ‘…dedicated to serve with pride, honor and compassion.’ He is truly deserving of this award.”

“I am extremely honored to be the recipient of this award,” said Honda. “I consider myself fortunate to have selected a career that I enjoy and still find exciting even after over 15 years of service. Being recognized by my peers and receiving such a prestigious award is more than I ever could have hoped for.”

Honda will travel to Atlanta, Georgia for the EMS EXPO 2009 Oct. 26–30, where the award will be presented at the NAEMT General Membership Meeting on Oct. 27 and at the opening ceremony of EMS EXPO on Oct. 28.

The National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) is the nation’s only organization solely dedicated to representing the professional interests of all EMS practitioners, including paramedics, emergency medical technicians, first responders and other professionals working in pre-hospital emergency medicine. It was formed in 1975 and has more than 30,000 members.

One Response to “County firefighter named national Paramedic of the Year for 2009”

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