King, Abeyta earn emergency awards

KEYSTONE — On November 4th, the Emergency Medical Services Association of Colorado (EMSAC) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) hosted their 2017 Colorado EMS Awards Ceremony in Keystone.  This annual event recognizes those in emergency services that continually perform over and above demonstrating professionalism, Esprit De Corps and honor while always focusing on service to others.  

Rodney King, Conejos County Ambulance Director (retired) and Emergency Manager was awarded the C.J. Shanaberger Lifetime Achievement Award. This award recognizes an individual whose contributions to pre-hospital care have been consistent and long-lasting, representing in effect, a lifetime of outstanding service to the profession and the public.  This award honors the memory of Carol J. Shanaberger, an EMT-Paramedic and Attorney who diligently worked for many years to improve EMS in Colorado and the nation.  

Rodney has dedicated over 40 years of honorable service to Conejos County and the San Luis Valley Region. He demonstrates what it is to be the best of the best and define what service really means.  

He was a respected math and science teacher at Centauri High School for many years until his retirement in 2014. He became an EMT in 1975 and began serving on the Conejos County Ambulance Service. He advanced in his training and became an EMT Intermediate in 1982 to provide a higher level of care. He wrote grants, was a primary instructor of over 1,000 students and became the director of the service. He also was teaching EMT and EMT Intermediate classes at Trinidad State Junior College during this time. In 1995 he was asked to become the emergency manager for Conejos County and he excelled at this position as well.

He received the Colorado Emergency Management Association Award in 2016 as the Emergency Manager of the Year.

Ernest Abeyta, paramedic with the Conejos and Costilla County Ambulance Service, was awarded the Robert Marlin Advanced Life Support (ALS) EMS Professional of the Year award. This award recognizes an individual who by outstanding actions and contributions to the advancement of excellence in the delivery of emergency care to the citizens of Colorado.  His commitment to excellence and professionalism is appreciated by his peers and grateful SLV communities. Thank you for always answering the call.  

Abeyta has been in EMS for more than 10 years, getting his start with an EMT class at Centauri High School. He saw the benefit of ALS emergency care and achieved his EMT-Intermediate after two years as an EMT. Paramedic education came six years later as he continued to expand his skills to deliver the best emergency medical care he was able to provide.

Abeyta said he has had countless encounters with many wonderful people who needed his help the most and he was honored to respond. His most memorable moments include delivering a baby, reviving the victim of a cardiac arrest and rescuing his neighbor from a burning house.

Abeyta is a paramedic and assistant director for Conejos County EMS. He also works for Costilla County Ambulance District and is the Fire Captain for Antonito Fire and Rescue.