Georgia’s Public Health Community Remembers Sam Cunningham, EMS Program Director

September 30, 2015

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) mourned the recent passing of Sam Cunningham, a dedicated public health practitioner who previously served as the regional emergency medical services (EMS) program director for the West Central Health District.

Cunningham joined the Georgia Department of Human Resources in 1990 as the regional EMS program director for the Northeast Health District, a position he held until 1996. In 1997, Cunningham became the state EMS director for Georgia and subsequently moved to Columbus in 1999 to serve as the regional EMS program director for the West Central Health District.

Cunningham was one of the most recognized EMS professionals in Georgia and the country with numerous regional, state and national awards. Shortly after his retirement, he was honored in a national EMS journal where he was considered to be among the most professional and active EMS professionals in the United States.

Throughout his years in public health, Cunningham was awarded the Governor’s Public Safety Award; the Dr. John B. O’Neal EMS Pioneer Award; the Dr. Zeb L. Burrell Distinguished Service Award; John E. Steed Memorial Award for the Northeast Georgia Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) of the Year; Larry Weber National Memorial Award presented by the National Council of State EMS Training Coordinators and the National Water Council Award of Merit.

He was honored by the Georgia House of Representatives and Senate, and received a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition by the Office of Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr.

Cunningham was a charter member of the National Association of EMTs (NAEMT) and served three terms as president of the Georgia Association of EMTs.                                                                                                                                           

He was a member of numerous state and national organizations, and also served on several special groups including the Governor’s All-Georgia Community Program, the Governor’s Five Star Community Program, Atlanta 1996 Olympics Committee, Georgia Public Health Olympic Committee, the Governor’s Certified Economic Development Task Force and the Governor’s Public Safety Awards Committee.

Darrell Enfinger, current emergency preparedness coordinator of the West Central Health District, echoed the feelings of many by stating, “Sam Cunningham was a true pioneer to the EMS Community and his name will always be synonymous with making Georgia EMS one of the best in the nation.”  

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