AMR paramedic receives Star of Life Award

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23-year-old Courtney Tullos honored for saving paraplegic man from burning van

VIDEO COURTESY: Hinds County Emergency Management Agency

An AMR paramedic recently received a national honor for saving a paraplegic man’s life after his van caught on fire in 2018.

Courtney Tullos, who was 21 at the time, was driving into work on the Natchez Trace Parkway in January 2018, when she saw a van had driven off the road and hit a tree. She pulled over to help the man, who was reaching for something on the seat behind him; at the same time, she saw smoke coming from the hood. She noticed the man was a paraplegic who used hand controls to drive the van and was reaching for his wheelchair.

Tullos then pulled the man out the van, got him at a safe distance, and then went back for his wheelchair as his van burst into flames. Tullos called 911, stayed with the man until the Raymond Volunteer Fire Department arrived, and then waited as he was taken to a local hospital.

The man was later released with no injuries and Tullos went into work. While at work, she never mentioned her rescue of the man; it wasn’t until an AMR paramedic that took the man to the hospital told her managers about what happened before she got to work.

Tullos resumed her drive to AMR’s headquarters and worked her shift. She never said a word about the rescue. The miraculous part? Tullos was also an EMT in paramedic training.

The paramedic who transported the rescued man told AMR managers about Tullos’ heroics. Tullos’ co-workers felt that she should be recognized and so, they nominated her for AAA’s Star of Life. According to the AAA, the award is given to those who “embody the best of the ambulance service profession.”

This year’s Star of Life award went to 107 paramedics and EMT’s around the country, and with Tullos being one of the recipients, she was honored in Washington D.C., where she met with members of Mississippi’s Congressional delegation and toured the city.

Stan Alford, operations manager for AMR Central Mississippi, said: “Courtney is already one of our best team members. We nominated her for not only saving the paraplegic man by herself, but also for her strong medical skills, deep compassion, and admirable work ethic. Just 23 now, she has an extremely bright future in our field. Star of Life is often called the nation’s top honor for paramedics and EMTs. Courtney is definitely deserving of the acclaim.”

Alford says “She says she was just in the right place at the right time to pull the man from the van. Here at AMR, we say she was the right person in the right place at the right time.”

When asked about receiving the award, Tullos said: “I appreciate all the thanks. I really do. It doesn’t go unnoticed. I feel very blessed that they want to take time out of their day and thank me for what I did. Yeah- it is just another day, but all it takes is one person stopping and they can be in the same place.”

Since rescuing the paraplegic man, Tullos has received the Mississippi EMT Association’s EMT of the Year award, the Hinds County Board of Supervisors Above and Beyond award, a Mississippi Business Journal Healthcare Hero award and a First Responder of the Year award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

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