Meetings, Great Classes, and Celebration! #EMSToday2015

Thursday, February 26

My day started early (these blog posts don’t write themselves you know!) and then I was off to my first ever JEMS Editorial Board meeting. As the “new guy” I had resolved not to cause too much trouble. A.J. Heightman (@AJHeightman) was suffering a bit of laryngitis which gave everyone good-natured laugh at A.J.’s expense.

Everyone around the room gave a short introduction and spoke the things they were passionate about (or interested in) regarding EMS and then about the things they were concerned about. It was interesting to hear some of the common themes.

Passionate about:

Measuring outcomes using data, quality benchmarking (what we should measure and how we should measure it), using STEMI and sudden cardiac arrest as the “foot in the door” that leads to more collaboration between EMS and hospitals, succession planning (not just in EMS systems but also among the national leadership), meeting patients’ needs using unconventional resources, finding innovative ways to obtain reimbursement, technology, the emergence of social media and FOAM (Free Open-Access Medical Education) as a force to be reckoned with.

Concerned  about:

The educational standards for EMS professionals in the U.S. compared to our colleagues in Canada, Australia, and the U.K., too many EMS systems have “their heads in the sand” regarding the changes in health care and how EMS needs to adapt to meet patients’ needs, the over-emphasis on cardiac arrest as a performance measure, the fact that EMS represents 80% of the call volume of most fire departments yet skulks in the corner at budget time, the generation gap between the “old guard” and the “new guard” in EMS (acknowledgement that we could have done / can do a better job developing new leaders to take our place), the lack of peer-review in FOAM.

Speaking of FOAM and the #FOAMed hashtag on Twitter (and it’s little brother #FOAMems) I was surprised at how many members of the Editorial Board were completely unfamiliar with it! Rob Lawrence (@wotsukrobl) was a notable exception. I get the feeling a lot of them don’t use Twitter.

Sometimes I forget there is a substantial “digital divide” among the current generations (even though I am Generation X and did not “grow up with the internet” most of my generation was quick to adopt social media). I pointed out that the #FOAMed hashtag on Twitter had hundreds of millions of impressions on Twitter last year (and will surely surpass 1 billion impressions in 2015). That’s a lot of tweets!


Speaking of hashtags on Twitter the #EMSToday2015 hashtag has really taken off and I couldn’t be happier!


There have now been over 4.4 million impressions since the beginning of the month! This is an awesome demonstration of how social media tools can enhance everyone’s experience who attends a conference. In addition, it helps others who were not able to attend the conference follow the action from home.

JEMS Games

I was tied up in a series of meetings all afternoon but I had my spies at the JEMS Games! Michael Herbert (@bigGermanMike) turned me on to an interesting technique that #TeamAut used that he called “Kiwi CPR”. I thought it was notable and Mike was kind enough to write it up for me.

Kiwi CPR

#TeamAUT showing-off Kiwi-CPR

If you looked at the purpose of the JEMS Games, you would see that it is intended to “to create a fun, challenging and educational experience for emergency medical personnel that results in them being better prepared for the challenges they may encounter in the field.”

Yesterday, at the JEMS Games #TeamAUT from New Zealand took the stage in a challenging scenario that required them to work a cardiac arrest while navigating an obstacle course. Although the best practice is to work a cardiac arrest on scene and defer transporting a victim until return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC), occasionally special considerations do require the movement of the patient while attempting to perform CPR.

#TeamAUT approached this challenging scenario with a technique that caught our attention. The patient was placed on a backboard and loaded onto a stretcher with the inferior portion of the board extending approximately two feet below the stretcher. This allowed one of the rescuers to kneel superior to the patient and perform chest compressions from an “Over the Head” position. The stretcher was able to be moved through the obstacle course while high quality compressions were being performed seamlessly.

Following the competition, I asked Team AUT, which comprised of Brendan Wood, Sarah Gordon, Luke Summers, and Haydn Drake (@paramedickiwi) about this unusual technique and I was amazed to find that this method has been tested. The Head of Discipline for the AUT Paramedicine & Emergency Medicine department, Paul Davey, has tested “Kiwi-CPR” by measuring the difference in “over-the-head” compressions versus standard “from-the-side” compressions by looking at factors like depth, recoil, and CPR fraction time and found there was no significant difference between these two groups.

#TeamAUT used this technique to perform high quality compressions while moving a patient on a stretcher during the JEMS Games and introduced the wider world to their technique. Hat tip to “Kiwi-CPR” and to our friends, Brendan, Sarah, Luke, and Haydn!

EMS Compass

nick greg tom

During lunch Kelly (@barefootNurse24) and I attended a meeting across the street at The Hilton where our good friend Nick Nudell (@RunMedic) who now heads up the National EMS Performance Measures Project for NASEMSO and NHTSA was giving an overview of the EMS Compass initiative.

Greg Friese (@gfriese) from gives a nice overview here. This is an important project that anyone concerned about EMS quality should be knowledgeable about! It made Kelly and I laugh when Greg tweeted a picture of us covering the session!

kelly tom

We had another meeting with Matt Womble about the Emergency Medical Error Reduction Group (EMERG) Patient Safety Organization (PSO) — which I hope to cover in more depth on another occasion — and then headed down to the Exhibit Hall.

Exhibit Hall

Our good friends at ZOLL gave us a sneak peak at some new products including their post-event software for cardiac arrest analysis.


I also spent some time with Paul Stoddard and the folks from Philips Healthcare. One of those folks was Dan Carlascio (@DanCarlascio) who was the first person to ever have me teach a 12-lead ECG class in the CCEMT-P course (many years ago at Loyola University in Chicago — I won’t say how many years ago but it was > 10 years).

They were a great bunch and I tested out their Q-CPR Measurement and Feedback Tool.


I have a meeting this morning so there isn’t time to do this justice! All I can tell you is that if you missed ZOLL SHOCKFEST last night you missed a great party. Not only did A.J. Heightman perform CPR on a mechanical bull (I’m holding on to that video for ransom), but we enjoyed amazing fellowship with colleagues from around the world and made friendships that I sincerely hope will last a lifetime!


I can’t tell you how honored and privileged I felt to be among this special group of people. This conference just keeps getting better and better! To see more of the action from last night check out the #zollshockfest hashtag on Twitter!

Ted Setla (@setla) let me take pictures with his AMAZING camera which was a lot of fun!

Stay tuned! Follow me on Twitter at @tbouthillet for more updates about the conference.

See also:

From Precons to EMS 10 Awards and Nightwatch! #EMSToday2015

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