ELIZABETH, N.J. (PIX11) — Behind every EMT and Paramedic in Elizabeth is a teacher, mentor, and valued resource: EMS Medical Director Dr. Matthew Letizia.

“The only thing I’ve ever wanted to do in this world was become an E.R. doc, that was it,” said Letizia. “From when I was a little kid, I had my little Fisher-Price doctor kit, and I’d have a dog at home and resuscitate the dog and save the dog’s life, and that was it.”

He’s an emergency physician who helps train first responders. He goes above and beyond just giving lectures by getting out of the emergency room, and into the action.

“In order to be what I feel is the best of the best, you need to be out there in the streets,” said Letizia. “How can you be an EMS physician, how can you be the medical director of an agency if you’ve never been in the back of an ambulance?”

It’s for those actions that he recently received the national award for EMS Medical Director of the Year by the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians.

“I’m very humbled to receive a national award like this,” said Letizia. 

Dr. Letizia’s reach goes far beyond the City. In fact, he’s also the medical director of more than 30 other agencies across northern and central New Jersey, allowing him to reach more than 1,000  first responders.

“They save the patients to bring to me to continue the care,” said Letizia. “It’s my way to give back, to say thank you to all those first responders who have risked their lives. I want to be able to help them help other patients.”