NORFOLK, Neb. – A retired Norfolk physician who has been active in emergency management medicine has been recognized for his efforts.
Northeast Community College has presented Dr. G. Thomas Surber with its distinguished service award. The honor is presented to individuals who have demonstrated active service to higher education and who have played a significant role in the development of Northeast.
Surber, together with the Norfolk Fire Division, was responsible for the development of the Paramedic program at Northeast Community College. He has been actively involved as the medical director for both the Paramedic and EMT (emergency medical technician) programs at the College since their inception. He was an integral part of helping the Paramedic program become accredited with the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.
Carol Rodenborg, director of EMT-Paramedic programs, said Surber visits the classroom regularly to provide additional education, assists students who are having difficulty, and evaluates both students and instructors.
“His insights and experience are invaluable to everyone who is involved in the program. He genuinely cares about each student and the patients they will encounter. His experience brings reality to the classroom, and he truly understands what a paramedic is faced with in the field,” Rodenborg said. “Dr. Surber holds high standards, but his expectations are very realistic. He is a large part of why the program and students are successful and many lives are saved.”
“One of my lifelong principles is that life is best when contributing to others in whatever way I can. A true community is one in which all members are interacting with other members, enriching, improving and participating in that community,” Surber said in accepting the award. “(It’s) more than just attending the meetings, mouthing principles and flying the flag - live the principles and goals, letting, allowing and sparking others to achieve by your actions, your passion, your motivation, and your drive for excellence.”
Surber graduated from Norfolk High School, earned his undergraduate degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1968, and his doctorate in medicine from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 1972. He joined Dr. Joe David in practice in Norfolk in 1975, eventually becoming part of the Norfolk Medical Group. He retired from the practice of family medicine in 2011.
While Surber concentrated on family practice, he also did occupational medicine and EMS work. He has served, and continues to serve, as the medical director for the Norfolk Fire Division and seven other Basic Life Support squads across northeast Nebraska and was a member of the Nebraska State EMS board for many years.
Surber was actively involved in Boy Scouts and was a member of the Norfolk Kiwanis Club for many years. For 30 years, he was the pianist for the Northeast Area Jazz Ensemble. Additionally, he served as chairman of the Norfolk Tree Advisory Board and is a current member of the Northeast Community College Foundation Board of Directors.
Surber and his wife, Susan, have supported Northeast Community College financially, with scholarships and a special emergency fund for students such as the Emergency Medical Services Scholarship, the Emergency Medical Director Scholarship, the Eagle Scout Scholarship, and Doc’s Emergency Needs Endowed Fund, which was established late 2021.
In 2011, Surber received the City of Norfolk’s Edward I. Vrzal Award for service to the community, and he was recognized as a Hometown Hero that same year.
The Surber’s family includes children Adam, Eric, and Kate, as well as Era, an exchange daughter.
Several members of the Norfolk Fire Division were among those in attendance at the Achievement Awards event as Surber was bestowed his honor.
Dr. G. Thomas Surber speaks during Northeast Community College’s annual Achievement Awards ceremony after he was presented with the institution’s Distinguished Service Award. Surber, together with the Norfolk Fire Division, was responsible for the development of the Paramedic program at the College and has been actively involved as the medical director for both the Paramedic and EMT programs since their inception.