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Bartow, Fla. (Jan. 13, 2022) — Polk County Fire Rescue Capt. Breanna Campion will be awarded the 2020 Paramedic of the Year Award by the Florida Fire Chief’s Association during its annual meeting in Daytona Beach on Jan. 19.

The award is to recognize Campion’s extraordinary work in preparing and protecting Polk County Fire Rescue and its members at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As surrounding fire rescue agencies experienced crushing absenteeism and infection rates, Breanna became instrumental in the development and deployment of a departmentwide COVID-19 response, including in-house antibody and antigen testing for Polk County’s first responders and family members,” Chief Robert Weech said. “Breanna saw what was coming and took it upon herself to protect and prepare us for this pandemic.”

When the pandemic lexicon was still new in January 2020, Campion was already preparing a “just-in-case scenario” for Polk Fire Rescue. The meant ramping up orders of personal protection equipment, the development of an EMS response COVID-19 toolkit, updates on the latest CDC guidelines, and working with Polk Fire Rescue’s medical director to develop new medical protocols.

At the initial onset of the pandemic, Campion also used her resources and influence to contract with a regional testing lab that could offer fast and reliable COVID-19 testing for employees. That cut down turnaround times from two weeks to two days. It also allowed her to develop the county’s testing and return-to-work policy.

The programs she developed proved to be a success and remain in place today.

“This success translated into literally thousands of overtime hours being avoided while simultaneously ensuring employees and their family’s peace of mind as they continued to serve the residents and visitors of Polk County,” former Deputy Chief of Medical Services Raf Vittone wrote in his nomination letter.

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