Log in Subscribe

Paramedic honored as county employee of the month


BRADENTON - Anyone who works unusual and stressful hours knows that it's hard to eat right, and people on night shifts find it all too easy to gain weight.

James Larsen
James Larsen was honored as July's Employee of the Month for starting a fitness and wellness program for his colleagues in the Public Safety Department.

So paramedic James Larsen of the Manatee County Public Safety Department, whose profession is saving lives, decided to help his colleagues with their own health and lives. Larsen, who has worked for the county for 21 years, set up fitness programs for his co-workers, the nomination form said, and organized events at area parks and preserves for walking, running and bike riding.

For that work, he was named the July 2009 Employee of the Month and honored at Tuesday's County Commission meeting.

Larsen and several of his colleagues came to the commission meeting, where they expressed their pride in his efforts.

Paramedics wait for the tones to send them on a call, and there are obesity issues because they often eat fast food. Larsen and others set up the program and have encouraged people to run in 5Ks and do other activities.

His immediate supervisor, Kathy Peel, said, "I am one of those that has benefited from what he has done. I did my first 5K because of Jim, I did my first half-marathon because of Jim, and reached the finish line."

They decided it was better to bring everyone from EMS together and got more members together. Larsen has encouraged people to keep at it.

"Because of his efforts, I have managed to lose 50 pounds myself," Peel said. "I thank him for all of his efforts that he has put into this wellness program. Because of his encouragement, I am looking to do my first triathlon in August."

Other employees honored at the commission meeting were Aurita Hewitt, an administrative specialist in the Parks and Recreation Department, after 25 years of service; and Katherine A. Smith, a program assistant in the Agriculture and Natural Resource Conservation Department, for 28 years of service.

In addition, winners of the employee photo contest were honored for print and digital photography.


No comments on this item

Only paid subscribers can comment
Please log in to comment by clicking here.