National Registry of EMTs

2019 Rocco Morando Lifetime Achievement Award

David E. Persse, MD, FACEP, FAEMS was presented with the 2019 Rocco V. Morando Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing a lifetime of commitment, contributions and leadership to Emergency Medical Services (EMS). The award is NAEMT’s most prestigious and is generously sponsored by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (National Registry). The presentation was made during NAEMT’s annual General Membership Meeting in New Orleans on Oct. 15.

Dr. Persse is a Professor of Emergency Medicine at Baylor and associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Texas McGovern Medical School. He is also a tactical physician with the Houston police S.W.A.T. team as well as adjunct faculty for EMS Fellowship at UT McGovern Medical School.

“Dr. Persse's leadership, dedication and integrity sets an example for everyone in the EMS profession," said Dr. Robert Swor, National Registry of EMT's board chair. "This is a highly deserved honor as Dr. Persse has served as a teacher, leader, role model and friend for many current EMS leaders. He is an inspiration for those of us in EMS across the nation."

Dr. Persse’s career in medicine started with 10 years of experience as a field paramedic and paramedic instructor in upstate New York and New Jersey. After receiving his pre-med training at Columbia University in New York City, he attended Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. Dr. Persse completed residency training in emergency medicine at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California. He completed fellowship training in EMS at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and the City of Houston EMS program. He also completed his fellowship resuscitation research at the Ohio State University.

Following his EMS fellowship, Dr. Persse became the assistant medical director for the EMS system of Houston. He then moved to California to become the medical director of the Los Angeles County Paramedic Training Institute, and the assistant medical director of the Los Angeles County EMS Agency. In 1996, Dr. Persse assumed the role of the Director of EMS for the City of Houston. In May 2004, he was appointed by the City Council as Houston’s Public Health Authority.

NAEMT President Matt Zavadsky said, “Dr. Persse has dedicated his impressive career to the EMS profession, training of paramedics, and Public Health. He is an EMS innovator and respected by his peers in emergency medicine for his leadership and commitment. It is our honor to highlight Dr. Persse’s contributions to patient care, lifelong learning, and disaster preparedness.”

Dr. Persse has been the lead author or co-author on over 40 peer-reviewed journal articles. He has overseen Houston’s Public Health response to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike, and Harvey, as well as the H1N1 influenza pandemic, and he is currently the incident commander for the Zika virus response.

Dr. Persse is a member of the board of directors and executive committee for the South East Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council and is past chair of the National Registry. He is a 2015 EMS Top 10 Innovator Award Winner from the Journal of Emergency Medical Services. He has been recognized by the American College of Emergency Physicians, the National Association of Emergency Physicians, and other national organizations for his leadership in EMS.

Dr. Persse’s leadership and selfless giving of his time, talent and expertise has advanced EMS as a profession and improved patient care.