Huffine has been in EMS for 20 years and was recently honored by the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT).
NAEMT annually honors EMS technicians throughout our nation for providing high quality pre-hospital care. Huffine was eligible due to his being a paramedic and a member of NAEMT.
Huffine was recognized as the Arkansas Paramedic of the Year in 2007. After winning that award he was nominated for the National Paramedic of the Year Award.
"We are so proud of Steve and his commitment to serving others as his role as a paramedic," Seth Myers, Air Evac Lifeteam president said. "We are honored to have him working with our company and congratulate him on this award. This is just another testament to the quality people we have working at Air Evac Lifeteam across the nation."
As of Nov. 1, Huffine became a full time clinical educator for Arkansas. Huffine said he and his family were honored to receive such an award. Huffine said although he knew he had won, he was not allowed to share the information with the press until after he had received the award. "If it got out, I would have become ineligible for the award," Huffine said.
Air Evac paid to fly Huffine and his wife Lyra to Las Vegas where the NAEMT expo was being held. The expo was a week long event and during the annual meeting they presented him with the award. "It was such a nice honor," Huffine said.
"I started working in EMS (Emergency Medical service) on June 12, 1988," Huffine recalled. "I was working for the hospital-based ground ambulance in Corning."
"When I got into high school, I was having trouble deciding what I wanted to do with my life," Huffine said. "I got involved with a junior firefighter training program my junior year in high school."
Huffine said he then couldn't decide -- police officer or fireman. "A friend took the classes (EMT) and thought I would really enjoy it," Huffine said. "I saw the ad in the local newspaper, so my senior year in high school, I was taking courses to become an Emergency Medical Technician."
Huffine said his parents paid for the course at the time. "I really did enjoy it," he said.
That was 20 years ago. "I worked as an EMT for three and a half years and in December of 1991, I received my paramedic license after additional classes and exams," he said.
"I got hired on at the Marianna base (Air Evac), but during that time I was working at Jonesboro, Mountain Home and West Plains bases part-time also," Huffine said. "I did that for about six months before I had the chance to start with the Vilonia base full-time." Huffine said that was in July of 2005.
Huffine and his wife Lyra live in Hardy with their two children. "My wife is also an EMT," Huffine said. "We actually met while I worked for Vital Link ambulance service in Batesville, she was an EMT student."
Lyra now works for Spring River Paramedic and is in the process of getting her paramedic license. Huffine said it can be extremely difficult to maintain a family when you are in this line of work. "For us, it has worked out really well," Huffine said.
"No matter what I do, or what she does, we have a general understanding of what each other has to do," Huffine said. "It gives us each somebody to talk to about bad things that have happened."
Steve and Lyra have a son, Cory, who is 11-years-old and a daughter, Briar, who is 10. "This is all they have ever known, so, it's not that difficult for them," Huffine said. Huffine said they have child care they use on occasion.
According to Huffine, the main difference between being a paramedic or EMT on a ground ambulance and being in the helicopter with Air Evac is the level of care the patients require. "Working for Air Evac, generally, every flight we get is a patient who requires more critical care and transport," Huffine said. "Ground ambulances have their share of critical patients, but not all of them are critical."
"In the air, it is generally a life or limb emergency," Huffine explained. "Some of the procedures and regulations are obviously different, too."
"There are things we can do in the helicopter that can't be done by paramedics on an ambulance crew and vice versa," Huffine said. "I just had to become familiar with and aware of the regulations and protocols regarding air transport and patient care."
Huffine said his outlook as a paramedic is pretty simple, "Be honest with patients and their families. Treat them like family and do what you can for them."
Huffine said it is important not to give families false hope and to be truthful. "If it's a bad situation, give it to them straight," Huffine said. "If I do that with each and every patient I treat, then I can sleep comfortably at night knowing that I did everything I could to help them and their family through a tough situation."
"I've enjoyed my work in EMS," Huffine said. "Growing up with emergencies and law enforcement showed me early on what I wanted to do."