This is the final episode of my continuing coverage of the EMS Today conference in Baltimore!
I was on the verge of continuing the festivities from the Fire/EMS Blogger Meet-up on Friday night when I became separated from a group of bloggers as we were walking out of the Pratt Street Pavilion.
I seem to recall walking next to Justin Schorr (@TheHappyMedic) who was wearing a pea coat and a navy blue knit hat looking very much like David Keith (Major Matthew Coonan) from the movie U-571.
I walked down the stairs and out the door before I realized I had left everyone else behind. I also realized it was getting late, I was in downtown Baltimore, and I had hit my therapeutic range of ETOH.
Common sense prevailed and I double-timed it back to the hotel. I ran into a good friend from Physio-Control in the lobby, had a couple of gin and tonics, and headed up to the room for some well-deserved sleep.
Saturday, March 6
Once again I woke up at 7:00 a.m. and briefly considered attending the closing ceremonies. The closing keynote address was to be delivered by Gordon Graham, JD who is one of my favorites! If you’ve never heard him talk, you owe it to yourself. But even Gordon Graham couldn’t get me out of bed before 9:00 a.m.
After a very slow start and several cups of coffee, I finally made down to breakfast by 10:00 a.m. I’m not sure what was better: the fried eggs, bacon, and toast or the Bloody Mary. Either way, I felt much better when I headed to the exhibit hall.
In the Philips section I ran into an old friend named Dan Carlascio who was the first person to hire me to teach a 12-lead ECG class! That was at Loyola University back in 2001. Now Dan works for Philips as the Clinical Implementation Manager. We caught up for a little bit and then I made the rounds.
Next I found out that another special guest would be joining us on the MedicCast! None other than Tim Phalen of ECG Solutions. I’ve always thought that Tim Phalen was a class act and a really good guy, but I think Jamie Davis was even more excited than I was!
I’m sure he was just being polite, but Jamie Davis referred to our discussion about 12 leads and ECG education as “one of the best segments he’s ever recorded.”
Listen for yourself and see if you agree!
Note: Please ignore the facial tic. That’s what happens when you cure a hangover with 6-cups of coffee! I’m not normally Parkinsonian.
12:00 p.m. MedicCast live from the floor of EMS Today!
Unfortunately, the connection reset at 26:42 which means that the video stream for the second half of the MedicCast was lost, but Jamie Davis tells me the audio was preserved, so I’ll update you with a link to the full podcast as soon as it’s available.
*** UPDATE ***
I had just enough time to make it to the next educational session!
1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Fire-Based EMS: The Issues, the Challenges
Gary Ludwig (Chair), John Sinclair (Immediate Past-Chair, International Director), David Becker (Vice Chair), J. Robert Brown, Jr. (Treasurer), and Norris W. Croom III (Director-at-Large)
I had been looking forward to meeting Gary Ludwig (Deputy Chief of Memphis Fire Department) for some time. I didn’t realize I was going to have the opportunity to meet the entire executive staff of the IAFC’s EMS Section! That was an unexpected pleasure.
It’s usually not all that difficult to get one person to pose for a quick picture after an educational session, but there were five of these guys! They were all extremely nice and didn’t seem put out at all. Gary Ludwig even suggested that I let someone else hold the camera so I could get in one of the pictures; an offer I gladly accepted. I used this picture because as a photographer, it’s just a much better shot.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this session, but it ended up being a very informal discussion about a wide range of issues including the economy, transport and billing, ambulance wars, social media in the fire service, tattoos, body modification, the right to free expression, and customer service.
I was shocked to hear how many participants thought a paramedic should be allowed to have tattoos on their face and rings in their nose if that’s what they wanted
to do, as long as the patient care was adequate! News flash: when you’re on duty and wearing your department’s uniform, you’re not in a “free speech and free expression” zone! I thought that was well understood but apparently not.
There was also some Generation Y bashing which seemed to be a common theme this week. One participant went so far as to say that texting is bad because it breeds separatism which is the enemy of teamwork! I think that was a little extreme. The rationale was that “EMS is a team sport” so anything that takes you away from the team is bad. I don’t know if EMS is a team sport or not (I’m sure you could argue it) but firefighting definitely is!
Before someone sends me hate mail about the previous comment, is flying a jet plane a team sport because the captain has a co-pilot? Just asking.
Regardless, I’m not sure it’s fair to say that someone who is introverted, prefers to be by himself during his down time, or texts his girlfriend isn’t a team player. I also don’t think it’s fair to say that an extrovert is automatically a team player simply on the basis that he hangs out in the dayroom watching football with the guys.
I’ve read enough military non-fiction to know that many special forces types have insular personalities, but they are highly driven, technically proficient, and they perform very well as part of a very high functioning team. Isn’t that what matters?
Overall an interesting discussion, but I don’t think any of it rose to the level of the biggest issue or challenge faced by fire-based EMS. In my mind, the biggest issue by far is how to do both things well, but that was a discussion for another day!
3:15 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. EMS and Public Health Collaboration: A Model for the Future
I got out a little bit early from previous session so I made a beeline over to Norma Battaglia’s session!
For those of you who don’t know who Norma Battaglia is, she was one of JEMS magazine’s top 10 innovators in EMS for 2008. She’s also the Prehospital Manager for Tuscon Fire Department.
Norma gave an overview of Tuscon’s practical, collaborative solution for the problems of high-volume, low acuity 9-1-1 calls, which included a unique collaboration of EMS with various public health resources.
I took away some awesome ideas and I found Norma to be very congenial. It’s not easy teaching a Saturday afternoon session on the last day of a conference. Attendance is low and everyone is ready to go home. But we got through it and Norma patiently answered questions after the class was over.
With this session and the overview of Wake County EMS’s Advanced Practice Paramedic program I have a lot to think about!
Sunday, March 7
It was finally time to head home after having thoroughly enjoyed myself and forged many new friendships that I hope will last for a lifetime.
I had a chance encounter with Gary Ludwig at BWI and we talked for a while about paramedic recruitment and retention, and how Memphis Fire Department has a liaison officer who helps new paramedics get settled. He gave some examples and I thought it was a very thoughtful solution to a common problem for fire departments like mine that often recruit paramedics from out-of-state.
After some problems with my seat assignment I made it home comfortably with the assistance of a competent gate agent in CVG and an awesome flight attendant on the home stretch to SAV (not to mention some highly skilled pilots).
Maybe you should go undercover, Mr. Anderson.