Meet the GEMSA Board Members
At Large Board Member Chad has been in Fire and Emergency Services for the past 38 years, including 17 years in Air Medical Transport Services. Chad retired in June 2016 as Deputy Fire Chief for Hall County Fire Services after 31 plus years of service. Chad now serves as the Director/Fire Chief for Habersham County Emergency Services, where he oversees Fire, EMS, Rescue and Community Paramedicine/M.I.H. for the county. Chad currently serves as Chairman for the Georgia EMS Association, Chairman for the EMS Region II Regional Trauma Advisory Committee as mandated by Senate Bill 60 that established the Georgia Trauma Commission. In June 2010, Chad was appointed to the EMS Sub-Committee of the Georgia Trauma Commission for EMS Region II and serves on the Region II EMS Council. In 2019, Lt. Governor Jeff Duncan appointed Chad to the Georgia Firefighters Standards and Training Council. Chad also serves as Vice-Chair for Interactive Neighborhood for Kids and board member for the North Georgia Community Foundation, both non-profit organizations.
Karen B. GrabensteinVice Chair
At Large Board Member
Karen has been in EMS since 1993 and has worked both ground and air services. Having served on the board for the last eight years and currently as an At Large board member, Karen remains active in EMS in various capacities. Karen currently works as the Director of Clinical Outreach for Community Hospital Systems. Karen is a graduate of the 2013 Georgia Association of EMS Leadership Course. She is also a charter member of the Georgia EMS Leadership Alumni and the first female to have earned the GEMSA EMS Directors Certification. She remains active in the EMS community by serving on EMSAC, Region 9 EMS Council, and GA EMS Leadership Alumni Board. She began her career in EMS as a First Responder in 1993 and has held many positions in EMS throughout the years. She also serves as a professor at Columbia Southern University in the EMSA program. She and her husband Fred, live in Brooklet, Ga. with their son, Kaide.
President - Providers Division
Bengie has been involved in Emergency Services for the last 33 years as an EMT/paramedic and has his Firefighter I and II. He currently serves as EMS Chief at Chatham EMS and continues to work part-time with the City of Guyton as a firefighter. Bengie has served as chairman of the EMSC for several years and remains a member of the council as well as the Chatham County EMS Advisory Council. Bengie is a graduate of the 2012 Georgia EMS Association Leadership Course, and a 2019 ASM graduate through Fitch and Associates. He is also a charter member of the Georgia EMS Leadership Alumni, and he earned the GEMSA EMS Directors Certification in 2020. Also, in 2020, Bengie successfully achieved CAAS accreditation for Chatham EMS. Bengie is a member of Countryside Baptist Church where he serves as team leader of their Safety team. Bengie currently lives in Guyton, Ga with his wife Toni and daughter Makayla.
President - Educators Division
Vice President - Educators Division
“Becky” started her career as an Emergency Room Clerk at Newton General Hospital in Covington, GA in 1973. She decided that she needed more training and enrolled in the EMT program at DeKalb Tech in 1976. Becky had found her calling as she loved the excitement and enrolled in the Paramedic course at DeKalb Tech. She was only one of two females in the class.
After graduation from paramedic class in 1977, Becky was hired by Athens General Hospital EMS. She was the first female and paramedic who was hired by that service. After several years, she worked her way back to the Covington/Conyers area and worked for Newton General EMS and Rockdale EMS.
Becky worked at Rockdale Hospital for 5 years as an LPN, then left to work for a private physician. She still missed working EMS and went back to work for National EMS. In 1986, she started working for one of the largest EMS services in Georgia, DeKalb EMS. While working there, she spent 2 years in training, but still missed the street. She went back to working the streets of DeKalb County. She had been teaching for DeKalb Tech part-time since 1986 and was still doing that while working EMS full-time. A full-time teaching position came open and she was hired by her mentor Marian Wilderboar.
Becky continued to work at DeKalb Tech/GPTC until April 2018 when she retired with 30 years of service. She was recruited by Newton Fire Service and is working as their EMS Coordinator. Becky is the past President of the Georgia EMS Association Educators and sits on the BOD for GEMSA. She is past Chairman of the Board of the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation and was very involved in their camp that helps injured children. She was the 2004 Instructor of the Year for Region 3 EMS. She holds an Associate Degree in Emergency Medicine from Eastern New Mexico University, Roswell NM. Becky is working on other educational endeavors and enjoys walking, music, and reading.
Dr. Stokes has been involved in EMS in the State of Georgia since 1996. He is currently a nationally registered paramedic, board-certified emergency physician, and is a fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians. Dr. Stokes is the EMS medical director for several EMS agencies in Georgia, including Navicent Health EMS, Air Evac Lifeteam (Georgia), and Monroe County Emergency Services. He is an at-large member of the Region 5 EMS Council, is a practicing emergency physician at Navicent health, and is the emergency department trauma liaison for the Navicent Health Trauma Service. Dr. Stokes advocates for the advancement of prehospital care in all areas and is proud to serve as the president of the medical director’s division of GEMSA. Dr. Stokes lives in Macon with his wife, Debbie, and is a proud father of four children.
Rafe Waters began his EMS career in 1999. He is a Level III EMS instructor, and served as the Director of EMS Programs at Swainsboro Technical Collegeand Director of Tattnall EMS. In 2014, he began work as a Flight Paramedic with Air Evac Lifeteam 95 Statesboro, later he was promoted to Director for Air Evac Lifeteam 91 Vidalia. He is the Senior Program Director for the northern air bases in Georgia.
Rafe is a graduate of Southeastern Tech, Ogeechee Tech, and has degrees from Albany State College, and the University of West Georgia. In addition to his EMS background he is also a Registered Nurse. He is also a graduate of the 2013 GEMSA Leadership Course. Rafe currently serves as Chairperson for the GA EMS Leadership Alumni.
Rafe currently lives in Statesboro, and he is married to Dana. They have one daughter Delaney.
Dee was born and raised in Thomasville, and currently resides in Ochlocknee with her husband, Travis, and their two sons. She is very honored and excited to join the GEMSA Board of Directors.
Sam Polk has been in Fire and EMS for over 30 years. He began as a volunteer firefighter and first responder in his home county and became a Paramedic in 1994. He currently is a Lieutenant with Henry County Fire Department where he has worked for the last 15 years and is an Adjunct Instructor for the department’s EMT/AMT and Paramedic programs. In his career he has worked in several roles from Paramedic, Preceptor, Field Training Officer, Field Supervisor, Clinical Services Director, Clinical Education Manager and Adjunct Instructor. Sam is a Georgia AEMT Instructor/Coordinator and holds instructor credentials in BLS, ACLS, PHTLS, and AMLS. He is also an instructor with the Georgia Trauma Skills Lab program. Sam is an alumnus of the Georgia Leadership Program Class 6 and has previously served as an at-large member on the board of the Leadership Alumni Association. Sam represents Henry County on the Region 4 EMS Advisory Council where he currently serves as the Secretary. He also is the Region 4 Trauma Advisory Committee Chair and represents Region 4 on the Georgia Trauma Commission’s EMS Sub-Committee. Sam believes in GEMSA’s mission and will try to contribute in any way he can.
Board MemberJamarius is an eager public servant who has served in various communities as a full-time local firefighter and paramedic for the past nine years. He has had a passion for the job since age 15 where he started his career path as a junior cadet firefighter. The desire to grow and become more of an asset to the people extended past daily duties and became a willingness to instruct. Currently he is the EMS Training Coordinator for Columbia County Fire Rescue. He sits on the board for LAUNCH Augusta, which is a non-profit organization that exposes underprivileged kids to several job opportunities and skills in the healthcare realm. He is also an active instructor with all GEMSA sponsored trauma skills labs. His personal traits have evolved greatly from experiencing the Axioms of Leadership Program. As a graduate of Class 8 of the GEMSA Leadership Program, he strives to not only better himself, but any other individual he is able to influence. This is why he pursued a position on the GESMSA board.
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