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ECAs Van Houten Star Of Life Honoree
Tina Van Houten, left, of Escalon Community Ambulance is presented with a special legislative proclamation by Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen recognizing her achievements in the EMS field and selection for the Star of Life honor. Photo Contributed


Named as a ‘Star of Life’ through the California Ambulance Association, Tina Van Houten was recognized recently at the State Capitol for her dedication and service.

She began her EMS career as a volunteer with Escalon Community Ambulance in 1985, when she volunteered for 12-hour shifts several times a week. In 1987 the ECA Board of Directors asked if she would volunteer to enroll in the Paramedic program hosted in San Joaquin County.

“Tina took a year out of her life to go to school, while being a wife and mother to two young sons, continued to fill her shifts for ECA,” explained ECA Chief Mike Pitassi. “In 1989 she was hired as the second “full time” employee. Unlike larger institutions, ECA is a small rural service and all staff wear many hats. Tina is the point of contact for ECA’s membership program, organizing and managing its day to day operations, as well as multiple other office related duties and community CPR instruction.”

Pitassi, who nominated Van Houten for the recognition, said her steadying presence has been key to the longevity and strength of Escalon Community Ambulance.

“Tina has a talent for organization, and when tasked with any project completes it without fail. Tina juggles all her responsibilities and responds to daily emergencies during her 72 hour a week schedule. Tina is a respected, seasoned paramedic who can switch gears many times a day, leave her office, manage catastrophic situations, return, and do it all without a single change in demeanor or a hair out of place,” said Pitassi. “She strives for excellent clinical care and demonstrates a deep concern for her patients.”

Van Houten and members of her family were on hand for the special presentation in Sacramento, starting with a breakfast, visits to state legislators’ offices and a celebratory dinner. Also attending were Pitassi and ECA Board President Jerry Emery.

“EMS providers make many sacrifices for their chosen work, and we must not forget that their families do also,” Pitassi pointed out. “That is why we invited them to celebrate this recognition with Tina. Tina is known around the station as Mama T. She provides a steady hand to her EMS colleagues, and has always stood for strong principles, bringing great credit to the profession of EMS.”

The Annual Star of Life Celebration at the Embassy Suites in Sacramento honored 48 paramedics, EMTs, dispatchers, billing personnel, maintenance workers, and administrative staff for outstanding performance and life-saving actions, Van Houten among them.

She was appreciative of the award but also indicated that her work is something she does for fulfillment and the love of the job, not recognition.

Dan Lynch, EMS Director at the Central California EMS Agency, delivered the keynote address at the breakfast.