|Creek County Ambulance paramedic Matthew Llewellyn was nominated for the Star of Life Award for his work during the 2012 wildfires. Photo provided
SAPULPA — He might have dropped out of school in the eighth grade, but Matthew Llewellyn has more than made up for it in a career devoted to saving lives. Llewellyn, 30, a paramedic with Creek County Ambulance, was nominated for the Star of Life Award, which will be presented by the American Ambulance Association later this month in a ceremony in Washington, D.C.
It is the highest honor that an emergency medical service worker can receive.
But during Llewellyn’s middle school years, he wasn’t finding much encouragement that he would ever have a productive life.
“I was a typical out-of-control teen. I made stupid decisions, poor decisions,” he said.
Llewellyn said that educators gave up on him, telling him he was a waste of time. His confidence plummeted.
“I didn’t think I was smart enough or good enough to achieve anything so I never set a bar to achieve anything,” he said.
But then an accident happened when he went along with a friend to volunteer as a dispatcher. Whenever he could, he would ride along with volunteer firefighters on fire calls.
“I just absolutely loved it,” he said. “I thought, ‘What can I do to be around this?’”
Seeing his hard work and interest, the firemen, medics and deputies he met encouraged him to get his GED.
Llewellyn received his GED and enrolled in a technology school.
He was working a multitude of odd jobs including delivering pizzas and cooking at fast-food restaurants to save as much money as he could.
He received entry-level EMT certification and started working in 2002. He continued school until he became a nationally-licensed paramedic and paramedic-level EMS instructor in 2010.
He also received certification in psychological first aid and field traumatology, serving as a coach to his peers during and after stressful events.
Taylor Hargrove, education coordinator and paramedic for Creek County Ambulance, said that Llewellyn is very enthusiastic and committed to his work and that he has been very involved in the community, especially during the massive wildfires that swept through the area in August, leaving hundreds of people homeless.
“It killed me inside watching that. Just watching dozens after dozens of people trying to get their possessions out while being rushed from their property and watching entire families holding each other as their lives were being destroyed,” Llewellyn said.
Llewellyn said he probably started 40 IVs on dehydrated firefighters. He also took firefighters who didn’t know the area to some of the secluded, tiny back roads that were hard to find.
Llewellyn also led a fundraising effort to help provide and deliver necessities for the fire victims.
“It was awesome to watch the community pull together,” he said.