OAKHURST–You could say that Edward Guzman is the face of Sierra Ambulance. He has worked there since May, 1991, when he started as a paramedic, and in subsequent years he’s moved up to Operations Supervisor and then General Manager/Executive Director since 1997.
That’s all about to change. Ed’s retiring as of December 31, 2021.
Aaron Sundstrom, Operations Manager for the past two years, steps into Ed’s (unfillable) shoes.
Ed and his family were strongly rooted in the healthcare system even before their move to Oakhurst from San Diego 31 years ago. Ed is celebrating forty years as a licensed paramedic, and his wife Mona was an ER nurse who served at Oakhurst Urgent Care, which became Adventist Health. One of their two daughters is completing her final year of veterinary medicine school and plans to return to eastern Madera County to work at one of our local animal hospitals.
According to Ed, Sierra Ambulance may not be seeing the last of him come December 31. Although he plans to relax, complete some honey-do projects and a little traveling, he’s already figuring he’ll return to his paramedic beginnings and cover some vacation/sick leave fill-in shifts. Volunteering is in his blood, and he wants to donate time to his church and the community.
Ed has seen immense growth during his years at Sierra Ambulance. When he came on board, there was one ambulance. Currently there are four. They have built a new headquarters facility in Oakhurst and established substations in Bass Lake and Coarsegold. Staff has grown during Ed’s time from seven to 30. Ed proudly remarks, “We have done all of this without incurring any debt. Sierra owns all of its own equipment and stations.”
Even more important than the facilities are the people he’s worked alongside. “I have had the privilege of working with some of the greatest responders ever. From our volunteer firefighters, to Cal Fire, to the Sheriff’s Department, whose deputies routinely respond with us, to the CHP who keep us safe on the roadways. Everyone here shares the same goal of providing the best care possible to our visitors and residents. This is such a big part of why I wanted to work here and why I stayed so long, and why the future for Sierra Ambulance is so bright.”
Ed cites his 31 years in the Oakhurst area as blessings for at least a couple of reasons. They moved to seek a quality of life they felt wasn’t available in any city, even San Diego, and they found it. Ed and Mona raised their daughters Hilary and Alison, and the girls attended local schools. He says they were doubly blessed that during the entire time they have lived here since they haven’t had to commute away from the Oakhurst area for work.
Further, Ed calls Sierra Ambulance a non-profit organization that truly belongs to the community. “There is no owner. A volunteer board of directors provide guidance and governance. As the leader, I am just a caretaker of something bigger than me. Working for this organization has been beyond just a rewarding career . . . Everyone here shares the same goal of providing the best care possible to our visitors and residents. This is such a big part of why I wanted to work here and why I stayed so long, and why the future for Sierra Ambulance is so bright.”
Photos courtesy of Edward Guzman, Sierra Ambulance and Sierra News Online archives.