Local EMS supervisor a ‘Star of Life’

Some might back down from a challenge, but not John Paulsen.

Paulsen, a six-year veteran of Lakes Region EMS, got his start in the emergency medical field after taking an emergency medical technician program at Century College when he was a senior at White Bear Lake High School.

John Paulsen
John Paulsen

He liked the fast-paced nature of the field and the challenges that came along with it, so he decided to make it his career.

After receiving his EMT certification from Century College, Paulsen pursued more schooling after working as an EMT in St. Paul and White Bear for two years after high school.

Paulson took an accelerated paramedic program at Iowa State University and then did his clinicals at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.

After his education was complete, he worked in Duluth for about nine months before coming back to the cities and working about four years at Health East.

Then the opportunity to join Lakes Region EMS came about.

“I started as a field paramedic and worked as that for four or five years,” he said. “I really enjoyed it.”

Then about two years ago, Paulsen was offered the opportunity to transition into a leadership role with Lakes Region EMS.

He tackled that challenge, too, and became a supervisor.

Star of Life Award

As a result of his dedication to his organization and his field, Paulsen’s peers at Lakes Region EMS nominated him for a Star of Life Award last year, an American Ambulance Service award that recognizes EMS professionals for the day-to-day lifesaving services they provide.

According to a biography sent to the Post Review by Lakes Region EMS, “(Paulsen’s) outstanding clinical and communication skills make him a leader and a role model for our organization. He has taught and refined many of our classes, most notably our Critical Care EMT course. This course was the first in the nation developed especially for EMTs and is intensive and demanding, providing specific education targeted to the needs of our community.”

Paulsen said he and Jessica Keeney — another Lakes Region EMS employee to receive the award (see next week’s Post Review for a story about her) — found out at the company Christmas party this year that they would each be receiving a Star of Life Award.

“I didn’t see it coming at all,” he said.

To receive their awards, the pair were flown out to Washington, D.C., in April.

Paulsen estimated about 60 emergency medical personnel from 38 states attended the awards ceremony.

“It’s really an incredible event,” he said, noting he and others got to meet members of Congress and tour the nation’s Capitol as part of the festivities.

“I’m normally a guy who really doesn’t like a lot of limelight, but they do it in such a way that they’re able to shine a light on really outstanding people in our industry without making it feel over the top.”

Connected to the community

Paulsen said he enjoyed his time working in the metro area, but the Lakes Region EMS coverage area is more tightly knit.

“Not to take anything away from the Twin Cities, but it’s a little more of a community feel here,” he said.

Paulsen feels at home with Lakes Region EMS.

“I enjoy my job and I’m passionate about it,” he said. “I want to work hard to help my organization be better and make the industry better.”

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