National EMS Museum People Files, NEMSM-0003 [Please include Folder/Person’s Name]

Jerry Johnston

NAEMT President 2006-2008

The Iowa EMS Association’s Board of Directors honored Jerry Johnston, President of the National Association of EMTs (NAEMT) with the Spirit of Leadership award during their annual conference November 2006.

Jerry Johnston’s desire for a career in EMS began in a Burlington, Iowa,  ambulance service owned and operated by his father, Ernest Johnston, during the 1960s and 70s.  Jerry began running calls in 1975, while still in high school, at a time in EMS when no formal classes or certifications were required.  

As Johnston was attending College in Oskaloosa (IA) obtaining his BA in Business Management and Economics, and working part-time at Henry County Health Center EMS in Mt. Pleasant (IA), he began his formal EMS education, attending EMT-A class in 1979.  He achieved EMT-I in 1981, and in 1982 became one of the first EMT-II’s in the state of Iowa. Jerry obtained his Paramedic certification in 1983.

In 1986, while working for Mary Greely Medical Center in Ames (IA), Jerry attended a pilot EMS instructor class, becoming one of the first trained EMS instructors in the state. EMS training and education became an integral part of his career at Mary Greely, continuing when he returned to Mt. Pleasant in 1989. Jerry has instructed all levels of EMS, serving as a Training Officer, EMT-B Training Program and Continuing Education Coordinator, and Paramedic Instructor, as well as presenting at local, regional and national EMS conferences.

Through Jerry’s leadership as Director of EMS, beginning in 1989, Henry County Health Center/EMS has distinguished itself as a progressive EMS service in Iowa providing all ALS transport and Critical Care Transfer services for Henry County. They are recognized as being among the first to begin obtaining and transmitting prehospital 12-Lead ECG’s, as well as the first service in Iowa to begin administering Fibrynolytics in a prehospital setting, starting in 1996.  

They continue to participate in innovative prehospital studies today, being one of 10 services, participating in the IROC study with the University of Iowa.   Under Jerry’s direction, HCHC EMS was named Paramedic Service of the Year by both IEMSA and NAEMT in 1998.

In 2001, in addition to his duties as director of HCHC EMS, Jerry was asked to develop and implement a hospital based BLS/ALS/Critical Care transport service at Great River Medical Center in Burlington, IA, (Superior Ambulance) of which HCHC is part owner.

Jerry was recognized for his progressive leadership and service administration in 2001 with the William Klingensmith Administrator of the Year Award from NAEMT; an award he is very proud and honored to have received.

In 2004, Jerry received the American Heart Association’s “Volunteer of the Year” award, and continues to be a strong advocate for cardiac care education in Iowa. He is currently Regional Faculty of ACLS, PALS and BLS, having also served as the BLS National Faculty from 2000-2004.

Jerry became the President of the Iowa EMS Association in 1995, following years of service as a regional representative of Southeast Iowa on the Board of Directors. He served as President from 1995 until 2000, and continued to serve in the capacity of Immediate Past President until 2004.  

During his initial term as President of IEMSA, he was approached by the President of NAEMT and board members, with their desire to bring Iowa into the NAEMT organization. As a long time NAEMT member, Jerry felt it important Iowa be a part of this National advocacy voice for EMTs.  Jerry became the first Iowa representative to the NAEMT Board of Governors in 1995. He has served as a member of the Board of Governors, Executive Council, Board of Directors and Treasurer. He was the first Chair of NAEMT’s Pediatric Prehospital Care (PPC) Executive Council and was elected as the President of NAEMT in 2004.

Jerry will serve as NAEMT President through 2008, followed by two years as Immediate Past President, ensuring NAEMT continues to serve the EMS community through advocacy, education, and research as we move into the future.

Submitted to NEMSM May 2007 by Jules Scadden

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