For more than three decades, Daryl Kormos was on the front lines helping Yukoners through the first moments of their medical emergencies.
Last Friday evening, eight years after he retired from his lengthy career as a paramedic, Kormos was honoured for his service when he received the Governor General’s Emergency Medical Services Exemplary Service Medal from John Prno, chair of the national advisory committee for EMS/ESM.
Prno told those gathered at the local Royal Canadian Legion premises for the ceremony that it’s a unique award. It’s also only the second time it’s been presented in the Yukon.
“This is a gift from the people of Canada in recognition of a job very well done,” Prno said.
The award was created by the late governor general Romeo LeBlanc.
“The award is more than a long-service medal, but rather an exemplary service award presented only to those eligible members of the pre-hospitable Emergency Medical Service who have served for at least 20 years in a meritous manner characterized by the highest standards of good conduct, industry and efficiency,” Prno said.
“They serve as role models for all who follow in their footsteps.
“In Daryl’s case, he has served for over 30 years, and tonight will receive both the medal and first bar in recognition of this long and outstanding service dedicated to preserving Canada’s public safety,” Prno said.
Jeff Simons, director of Yukon EMS, then highlighted Kormos’ career, which began in Prince Albert, Sask. in 1977.
“He took his emergency medical technician training at a time when most of the training was all done on the fly and on the road,” Simons said.
A year later, Kormos and his wife, Karen, moved to Merritt, B.C.
Kormos continued to work in the ambulance service and took the emergency medical assistant level 1 course, a precursor to a paramedic program.
In 1979, he and Karen moved north to the Yukon. Here, he started working “with the very young, very new Yukon Ambulance Service and at that time he was the most qualified employee in the territory with his level of training,” Simons said.
Kormos continued training throughout his career. He completed air medical technician training, dispatch training, a pharmacology protocol course and the primary care paramedic course.
It was during the latter course that Simons met Kormos, as Simons had been hired to assist with the program.
“He had waited his whole career to be able to take this training, and worked very, very hard to complete it, and I do remember that as someone helping to oversee the program,” Simons said.
“He’s always been a consummate professional and was a leader throughout his career both in the Yukon and in this western region.”
He recalled one of his first encounters with Kormos at a workshop.
A facilitator put up paper and set out five-year timelines beginning in 1985.
She then asked everyone to come up to the paper and write down a good thing that had happened for EMS from the time they had started with the service.
As Simons recalled: “Daryl went and asked her for another piece of paper, added it to the left, 1979. And I can remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, who is this guy and how long is this going to take?’”
That comment garnered laughter from those gathered for the award presentation before Simons continued with the story.
“A good hour listing off things, and they were things (like) the first designated ambulance in the territory happened as he was here.
“The first medevac where they took the ambulance, loaded it on a military Hercules aircraft, flew it to Vancouver and then drove the patient to the hospital,” he said.
Kormos “left a real gap,” and has been missed by his colleagues since he retired.
However, he has continued to serve the community in many other roles, including much work with the local Legion branch.
Also on hand to offer their praises for Kormos’ work were Commissioner Doug Phillips, whose last day in the role is today, and Community Services Minister John Streicker.