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Clayton firefighter named Paramedic of the Year

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

For Jason Harmsen, a lieutenant with the Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services Department, fighting fires and saving lives is a family affair. His younger brother, two uncles and a cousin are all metro Atlanta firefighters.

"I love coming to work," said Harmsen, 33. "It's awesome."

Harmsen said he was surprised when he was awarded the honor of Region III Paramedic of the Year during the Region 3 EMS Awards ceremony March 17.

"Region III constitutes metro Atlanta," said Deputy Chief Andrew Condrey, of the department's Emergency Operations Division.

Eight counties - Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fulton, Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale - make up Region III, according to Condrey.

"I was flattered. There are people I looked at as role models that won this award in previous years, and to be associated with them that way is really an honor," said Harmsen, who is based at Fire Station No. 8 in Morrow. "It's ... an honor to be considered in the same category."

Harmsen is one of several Clayton County emergency medical service workers who were recognized during the Region III EMS Awards. Among them, Lt. Anthony Grimaldi, of Fire Station No. 1, was awarded the region's Excellence in Trauma Care award.

Additionally, 37 Clayton County firefighters received the CARES (Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival) award.

"Those [CARES] certificates were for ... young men and women who were successful in saving a life," said Condrey. "The ... recipients responded to a person who was clinically dead, no pulse, not breathing. These guys got their heart started. So each one of these certificates represents a life that was saved."

"We're extremely proud of all of our firefighters. They've accomplished a great thing by winning these awards," said Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Hood. "They've represented the department and the county well."