May 22, 2013 6:42 PM by Allison Bourne-Vanneck
They save lives and rescue countless people but each year there's only one honoree: The Paramedic of the Year. It's Acadian Ambulance's highest honor.
Out of 1700 applicants, Paul O'Bannon is the 2013 winner.
As usual, a high-profile speaker took center stage at the annual luncheon. This year, former vice-president Dick Cheney paid tribute to hundreds of medics in attendance.
He made light of his six heart attacks, and his subsequent respect for those in the medical industry.
But the spot-light was on one paramedic, who said he never expected to receive such an honor. For Paul O'Bannon, it was a moment he neve imagined: Hundreds of people, his face on the big screen, and a standing ovation all for him.
"This is...I would have to say probably the proudest moment of my professional career," Paul O'Bannon said.
He started his career as an ambulance paramedic in Pointe Coupee Parish. He's been with Acadian for more than three years, and now works off-shore as a remote paramedic for Safety Management Systems.
"An ordinary day could become somebody's worst day, and I'm suppose to be the one who's suppose to go in and change that. And potentially save a life," O'Bannon said.
It's what his job boils down to...And what he cherishes the most.
"When it happens, your heart swells. You know that you've given somebody's mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle another opportunity to spend time with their family. You can't beat that," O'Bannon said.
And you can't beat moments like this.
"It's incredibly humbling to get an honor like this, behind me is probably the finest paramedics in the country, and I just consider myself to be this year's representative of that group of people."