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County emergency medical services agency honors 2 Calexico firefighters

June 04, 2002


Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Cedric Ceseña, a firefighter/paramedic with the Calexico Fire Department, was recently honored as the advanced life support provider of the year by the county Health Department's emergency medical services agency.

His colleague at the department, Pedro M. Zamudio, a firefighter/emergency medical technician, was named the basic life support provider of the year by the agency.

It is the first time in the 12- year history of the awards that two firefighters from the same department, and two people from Calexico, have won the same year, according to county emergency medical service agency manager John Pritting.


Ceseña and Zamudio were selected by their lifesaving peers throughout the Imperial Valley. The votes were tabulated by the agency.

Ceseña said, "It's an honor that I was not expecting. Obviously it feels good that the people that I work with and that I respect as well think good of me."

Now comes the hard part: living up to the pressure of the award.

Ceseña's taking the pressure in stride.

"I'm pretty sure I won't let anyone down," Ceseña said.

Asked why he was chosen for the honor, Ceseña joked, "Other than me voting for myself 15 times?"

But seriously, Ceseña has endeared himself to fellow paramedics and EMTs throughout the county as an instructor at Imperial Valley College and El Centro Regional Medical Center.

The firefighter/paramedic joined the Calexico Fire Department in 1997 after a three-year stint with El Centro's Gold Cross Ambulance Service and four years with a private Blythe-based ambulance service.

Since he started working for the Fire Department, "No day that I go to work is going to be the same."

He said, "Most of the time it's something new, somebody complaining about something different. There is not a monotonous part of the day."

Through it all, while it may sound like a cliché, he tries to make a difference "in someone's life, somehow," he said.

Sometimes it's as simple as, "Talking to our patients and listening to what they have to say."

For Zamudio, a 12-year veteran of the department, his job comes down to providing the best service he can, even in the most delicate situations imaginable.

"A couple of years ago a 9-month-old girl had gone into cardiac arrest. Everyone was standing around looking at the baby when I pretty much took over (resuscitation efforts)," he said.

That month he was honored as the EMT of the month, even though the child died, because he tried when others didn't.

"I was just doing what we are always trying to do. We do that every day; we give the patient the best care we can," Zamudio said.

In the last four years, "we" has meant Zamudio and Ceseña. During that time they have been working together as a team in "the box," the back of a Calexico Fire Department ambulance, trying to save lives.

Zamudio said, "We rely on each other and we have confidence in each other. It's been a real privilege for me to be working with one of the top paramedics in the Valley."

Ceseña said the same thing about working with Zamudio, an EMT who has proven time and time again that he goes above and beyond.

"Pete, you know, he's one of the best EMTs we have. Every time we work together it's like a really well oiled machine. Most of the times we're on the same wavelength," he said.

Asked to finger exactly why he was chosen, Zamudio demurred and said, "I guess they like my way of work."

Zamudio started with the Fire Department as a reserve in 1989. Back then he never even considered becoming an EMT.

When he became a full-fledged firefighter on June 25, 1990, he realized, "Hey, they also do medical tactics out there."

He found out EMT skills were invaluable.

"(Lifesaving) comes with the job. You never know when someone is going to get hurt out there," he said.

He decided to take EMT classes at Imperial Valley College.

Zamudio thinks it's "awesome" that City Councilman David Ouzan and the City Council have started the firefighter education fund that allows Calexico residents to contribute to a fund that will help his fellow firefighters become EMTs and paramedics.

"There are a few more guys in the department that are willing to take that step," he said.

He hopes his recent award will provide those guys with a boost toward taking that step and show the people of Calexico the department is worthy of its support.

Ceseña said EMT training costs around $500 and takes one semester. To become a paramedic an EMT must have one year of field experience and then take a year of classes that costs roughly $2,000-3,000.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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