The 67th Annual International Rescue and Emergency Care Association Conference and Challenges was held the week of June 22, 2015 in Houston, TX. While the Basic Life Support challenge and the educational sessions were held at the conference headquarters, the Hilton Houston NASA Clear Lake, the Technical Rescue and First Responder Rescue challenge was held at the Houston Fire Department’s Val Jahnke Training Facility. This year, IRECA hosted competing teams from Exxon Mobil’s Baton Rouge, LA and Baytown,TX refineries, Phillips 66’s Bayway (Linden, NJ) and Sweeny, TX refineries, Chevron Phillips Chemicals’ Cedar Bayou (Baytown, TX) and Sweeny, TX refineries, Valero’s Benicia, CA and Meraux LA refineries, and students from the Osseo Senior High School (Osseo, MN) Opportunities in Emergency Care (OEC) program.

In the Technical Rescue challenge, seven teams took part in the two-day event. The team from Phillips 66 Bayway refinery, captained by Kurt Manz, took first place. Chevron Phillips Cedar Bayou Team No. 2 took second place, and Chevron Phillips Cedar Bayou Team No. 1 took third. The two individual captain award winners for this challenge were Chevron Phillips Cedar Bayou Team No. 1 Captain John Hollaway winning Best Captain, and Josh Winterburn and Harley Peek from the Valero Benicia team co-winning Best Medic.

In the First Responder Rescue challenge, 11 teams took part in the day-long event. Taking first place was Exxon Mobil’s “LA Rescue No. 1” team, captained by Lianie Thibodeaux, followed by Valero Benecia “Red” taking second, and Exxon Mobil’s “LA Rescue No. 2” team taking third.

In the Basic Life Support challenge, 12 adult teams and six youth teams took part in the Wednesday afternoon event. In the adult division, Exxon Mobil’s “LA Rescue No. 1” team, captained by Lianie Thibodeaux, took first place while Exxon Mobil’s “Baytown No. 1” team took second place and Exxon Mobil’s “LA EMED No. 2” team took third place. In the youth division, Osseo OEC’s “Toe Taggers” team, captained by Aleck Beck, took first place, while Osseo OEC’s “Trauma Troopers” team took second place and Osseo OEC’s “Hello Kidney’s” team taking third place. As part of this challenge, each participant was required to sit for a written examination consisting of 50 multiple choice, emergency medicine-related, questions. In the adult division, the co-winners of “Best Test Score” went to Marion Piper of Exxon Mobil’s “LA Rescue No.1” team and Lionel Sam of Exxon Mobil’s “LA EMED No.2” team. In the youth division, the “Best Test Score” award went to Taylor Batsche, captain of Osseo OEC’s “Trauma Troopers” team.

New this year and in honor of the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years IRECA awarded those who competed in all three challenge events with a “Triple Crown” award of their own. Earning this award were: Kristina Hopper, Ernie Theiler, Russ Walker, and James Yates for Chevron Phillips Cedar Bayou; Carl Raymond for Exxon Mobil Baton Rouge Complex; David Fleischman and Steve Carroll for Exxon Mobil Baytown; Josh Winterburn, Saul Ramos, Harley Peek, and Steve Beafore for Valero Benicia. While not a competitor, another “Triple Crown” award was given to Karen Egerter, who volunteered throughout the week as a simulated victim for all three challenge events. While not affiliated with the “Triple Crown” awards given out this year, the Rocco Morando “Spirit of Competition” Award was given to Julia Winkelman, a volunteer who also spent the week being a simulated victim and assisted behind the scenes and with setup and clean-up of all three challenge events. Finally, the association’s “Max Spray Award” was awarded to Kris “KP” Pollio from Chevron Phillips Cedar Bayou for his commitment to the growth and development of the association as well his invaluable help in the planning and successful completion of this years’ conference.

On June 27, the IRECA Banquet and Awards ceremony was held at the Hilton. This year was best attendance in five years with 225 members and guests in attendance. Awards were given for all challenges, as well as a few association awards.

Osseo Senior High School teacher Gary Leafblad, the program director of the Opportunities in Emergency Care (OEC) program and a major figurehead in the Health Science Magnet Program at Osseo, was given the International Association of Fire Chief’s (IAFC) Murray Smith American Rescuer Award.

This award was presented by Chief Elgin Browning - on behalf of the IAFC and the Transportation Emergency Rescue Committee (TERC). This award was presented to Leafblad for his outstanding dedication to the lifelong instruction of emergency personnel and his commitment to the advancement of emergency care. The OEC program, which he has taught in for 28 years, allows high school students the opportunity to learn first aid and CPR, as well as earn certifications as an Emergency Medical Responder (formerly known as First Responder), Nursing Assistant, and Emergency Medical Technician.

The 68th Annual International Rescue and Emergency Care Association Conference and Challenges will be held the week of June 20, 2016 in Concord, CA. All are welcome to attend as we look forward to again having record numbers of teams and participants.