Molded by fate
Not all people who are recognized for their accomplishments come from the big urban areas. A vast number of them come from the rural areas of the country like here in Evangeline Parish. One Vidrine resident is no exception as he was named Acadian Companies’ Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) of the Year.
“At first, I was shocked,” said Taylor Walden, “but, lately, I had been getting a lot of atta boys from everybody at work. They’re really making me feel welcomed and feel at home. It was a shock to me because I really hadn’t been here long. I’ve only been with Acadian since August of 2015.”
Walden described the nominating process for becoming EMT of the Year. “Two of my peers nominated me to represent Cenla,” he said. “There were about eight or nine of us that were nominated in our district. After I won that one, I waited about two or three weeks and went for the big meeting in Baton Rouge with all of the vice presidents and presidents and sat down with the selection committee.”
The qualifications of being named EMT of the Year, according to Walden, are based on how well that person represents the company and what being an EMT is about. The selection committee looks at “day-to-day tasks, doing my inventory on time, making sure my truck is presentable and everything that is supposed to be there is there, being highly presentable, and having good relationships with the communities and the hospitals.”
Walden said that his path leading up to being EMT of the Year was driven by fate. “All of my previous experiences from my previous work, football and sports in high school, and everything has molded me into the situation I’m in now,” he expressed. “I moved around a lot when I was a kid. I was born in Houston and lived there until I was eight-years-old. From Houston, I moved to Alabama, and, then, I moved to Mamou when I was 13. My mom Renee Walden was born there and her family is from there.”
His career path began while working for Frank’s Casing Crew in Lafayette, which is an oil field company. “I did really well there,” said Walden. “I worked there about four-and-a-half years until I started working off-shore, and, from there, I was a supervisor within a year. That went very well, and it was definitely a learning experience.”
Working off-shore soon created a problem for Walden who was starting to have a family of his own at the time. “I couldn’t be away from home,” he explained. “I met my future wife Krysten Fontenot, and she had a son. We started dating, and then we found out she was pregnant. So, that was it, and I quit right there. I actually didn’t know what I was going to do, but I just knew I was not going to be away from my family anymore.”
That is when fate really kicked in because Krysten, at the time, was a phlebotomist in the emergency room in Eunice. “I had plans on going to medical school because I wanted to do something in the medical field,” Walden said. “She brought up if I ever thought about working for Acadian Ambulance. The only thing I knew about Acadian was the lights that go by.”
Walden then attended an information session and signed up for the classes to become an EMT. He graduated in August 2015 and was hired by Acadian Ambulance where he started out in the flex department. “They bounced me from truck-to-truck all over our Cenla district,” he said.
“I was on flex for about two or three months, and then the EMT of the truck in Ville Platte retired,” continued Walden. “They needed another spot, and I live here in Vidrine. So, they put me in there. Luckily, my partner Scott Johnson, who’s been with Acadian for 34 years, has taken me and molded me into the every day aspect of doing this type of work, how to treat patients, and how to build a rapport with the public. Every day he’s committed to teaching me something else.”
Because of Johnson’s encouragement, Walden is currently attending paramedic school at the National EMS Academy in Alexandria. He said, “I have about seven months left before I graduate at the end of December. As of now, I’m at the top of my class at paramedic school. I’m going to make a life-long career out of this.”
Walden commented, “I always joke about I live in a 900-square foot house on 20 acres in Vidrine, and I have cows and a little small garden. But, the committee felt like I should win the award. That’s humbling.”
For Walden, his being named EMT of the Year is a honor that will last his lifetime. “I have trouble finding the words to express how honored I am because it’s monumental being EMT of the Year,” he concluded. “It’s a huge statement that will stand with me for the rest of my career. Besides the pin and besides plaque, I’m going to have the honor of being this year’s EMT of the Year.”