The Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority (REMSA) congratulates Don Vonarx, retiring chief operating officer on his long and significant EMS career.
“We wish Don the very best on his retirement,” said Dean Dow, president and CEO, REMSA. “Don’s contributions to EMS, and more importantly to REMSA, over the last 25 years have been significant and meaningful to the advancement of our organization. From launching our post-secondary education program to selecting and implementing cutting edge technology, Don’s professionalism, advocacy for field providers and commitment to excellence has set him apart as an industry leader.”
Vonarx began his EMS career as a volunteer firefighter and ambulance attendant in Lovelock in the mid 1980s. He completed the paramedic program at Truckee Meadows Community College in 1992 and worked at REMSA as a paramedic until he was promoted into the director of education position in 1996. In that role, Vonarx lead the movement to launch REMSA’s own post-secondary education program. His leadership secured the program’s accreditation through the state of Nevada. The program now educates more than 13,000 medical providers and community members every year.
For five years, he worked as the director of operations; all ground ambulances and related services including communications, logistics and special events reported to him. Vonarx held this key leadership role at REMSA during a time of significant regional growth.
From 2007 through 2013, Vonarx briefly left REMSA to work as the general manager for SEMSA, then a sister company to REMSA, in Merced County. He helped Riggs Ambulance Service modernize equipment, improve training methods and achieve accreditation.
In 2013 he returned to REMSA as the vice president of information and support services. Vonarx’s leadership during this time was transformational as REMSA adopted new technology that was changing the pace and delivery of EMS patient care. Vonarx authored a white paper titled “REMSA ePCR Investigation” which lead to the implementation of a modern electronic patient care charting system.
In early 2016, Vonarx was promoted into the role of chief operating officer where he focused on the primary operations of the organization working (again) with ground ambulance services, dispatch/communications and community health.
As Vonarx reflects on his time with REMSA, he continues to celebrate the successes of the organization and its providers and staff saying, “I have appreciated being part of something bigger than myself. Our work is rewarding. Even after 25 years, I am amazed at the consistency of the high-quality patient care that our ground providers, our Care Flight team and our emergency medical dispatchers provide every day.”
In the late 1990s the American Ambulance Association honored Vonarx with a Star of Life Award for his work to implement a Public Access Automated External Defibrillator (PA-AED) program throughout the Truckee Meadows. In 2007 Vonarx received, on behalf of REMSA, the Patriot’s Award from the National Guard for the organization’s ongoing commitment to supporting reservists when they are called or volunteer for international or domestic service.
In retirement, Vonarx plans on traveling, achieving new fitness goals, completing home improvement projects and spending more time with his four grandchildren. In addition, he and his wife, Barb Vonarx who currently works as a flight nurse with Care Flight are going to once again, become sailboat owners.