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6 trends, products, and issues that made EMS Today memorable

The national EMS conference in Baltimore spotlights the opportunities for EMS to move forward and the important challenges EMS professionals face

National EMS conferences, like EMS Today and EMS World, provide an opportunity to assess the health and wellness of EMS providers, interests of EMS leaders, and trends in EMS products. Conference sessions, the focus of our quick take articles, are just a part of what made EMS Today great. Looking back on the week in Baltimore, six things emerge as important contributors to a great conference.

1. Stop the bleeding!

Tourniquets and hemostatic gauze to control severe hemorrhage were the most prevalent products in the exhibit hall. Although dwarfed in size by ambulances and without the whiz-bang of a cardiac monitor, tourniquets seemed to be featured at every third booth.

The essential function of an extremity tourniquet and its placement – high and tight – has changed little since they were first applied on some ancient battlefield. What has changed is the emphasis on ubiquitous distribution of tourniquets, much like AEDs and naloxone. Vendors are offering tourniquets and hemorrhage control kits for police officer tactical bags, wall-hanging cabinets for schools and airports, and inserts into a first responder jump kit. Several vendors trumpeted the virtue of a tourniquet for every glove box.

2. Stop the deaths

After an upbeat welcome, the tone of the opening ceremony turned somber for a few minutes to remember the EMS providers that died in the line of duty in 2014. The packed ballroom also paused for a moment of silence to remember three paramedics that recently died by suicide.

In the opening ceremony, in many conference sessions, the exhibit hall, and on social media EMS leaders vowed to continue drawing attention to the stress our field providers experience. It offered affirmation that it is okay to ask for help, available resources for anyone that needs to talk, and the need to educate our communities about the impact of traumatic stress on EMS providers.

3. Products by and for medics

We are always on the lookout for EMS products developed by and for medics. Two such products caught my attention in the exhibit hall; the Pedi-Sleeve and the Women of Rescue line of fitness and casual apparel.

Paramedic Stan Kordecki, inspired by watching a quarterback consult a playbook on his arm, designed the Pedi-Sleeve pediatric dosing system. The color-coded arm sleeve, customized to display local protocols, puts correct medication doses and equipment sizes for pediatric patients within easy view of the medic.

Rescue Chic, founded by paramedic and nurse Dannie Myers, is apparel designed “for the girls of rescue, by the girls of rescue.” The line of apparel grew out of the successful Recue Chic Facebook community, which is for women working in EMS from around the world. Rescue Chic provides peer support, shares resources, and promotes EMS as an exciting and positive career for women. A portion of Rescue Chic sales are used to create enrichment programs for girls looking to enter or promote in emergency services.

4. In-demand NOLA Nightwatch medics

No one worked harder at the conference than the five Nightwatch medics from New Orleans EMS. The group spent hours posing for photographs and signing autographs at the Physio-control and Braun Ambulance booths. They were introduced at the opening ceremony, thronged at the social events each night, and patiently answered questions from EMS journalists about the phenomenon of Nightwatch.

Nightwatch, the number one new reality television series, surely has a following of non-EMS providers, but the A&E show is fortunate to have broad and enthusiastic support among EMS providers.

5. EMS history; looking back as we look forward

Many of the conference speakers advocate for changes in clinical practice and EMS operations. Innovation and progress are critical for our ongoing success and the opportunity to learn directly from innovators at a national EMS conference is unmatched.

The National EMS History Museum’s traveling exhibit delivers a nice counterbalance to the focus on the future of EMS. Experienced, long-time EMS providers are able to reminisce about the equipment they used in the early days of EMS. New EMS providers can appreciate the progress in design of easier to use and lighter equipment, as well as relatively safer and more comfortable workspaces.

A set of collectible cards, each showing a first aid technique, was exhibited by the National EMS Museum. The cards, distributed by Imperial Tobacco from 1880 to 1915, are a recent addition to the museum’s collection.

6. Wow! 1000+ Collegiate EMS providers next door

The National Collegiate EMS Foundation’s (NCEMSF) conference was being held just a block away from the Baltimore Convention Center. More than 1,000 diverse, fit, and eager to learn EMS providers representing schools and universities from across the country attended the conference. Alumni and EMS friends of alums also attend the NCEMSF annual conference to learn from some of the industry’s best educators and gather with highly-motivated learners. Students dove into hands-on skill sessions.

About 20 percent of EMS collegiate providers pursue a career in EMS. Another 30 percent work in a health care profession, bringing with them there knowledge of and appreciation for EMS.

Bonus EMS Today coverage

In addition to the EMS1 special coverage of EMS Today many EMS bloggers reported from EMS Today. Check out posts, videos, images, and podcasts from these EMS bloggers and EMS1 contributors.

Scott Kier,, is a passionate and regular national EMS conference attendee. This year he was reminded of the importance to “arrive curious, leave inspired” for any EMS conference or training opportunity.

Tom Bouthillet,, tweeted non-stop and posted each day during the conference. His concluding post digs deep into pediatric cardiac arrest resuscitation and the System 1 and System 2 thinking presentation by Dr. Peter Antevey (see the EMS1 quick take.) Bouthilet shares a conversation he had about paramedic suicide and his vow to “to go back to my department and be a better friend and a better listener to my coworkers. I want to let them know that I care and that they matter to me individually.”

Dan White, PhillyDan, was at the very first EMS Today conference in 1984. He has spent 30 years working, inventing, and selling products for EMS. For an EMS product to catch Dan’s attention really says something about the innovativeness, simplicity, and usability of a product.

Greg Friese, MS, NRP, is the Lexipol Editorial Director, leading the efforts of the editorial team on Police1, FireRescue1, Corrections1 and EMS1. Greg served as the EMS1 editor-in-chief for five years. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree from the University of Idaho. He is an educator, author, national registry paramedic since 2005, and a long-distance runner. Greg was a 2010 recipient of the EMS 10 Award for innovation. He is also a three-time Jesse H. Neal award winner, the most prestigious award in specialized journalism, and the 2018 and 2020 Eddie Award winner for best Column/Blog. Connect with Greg on LinkedIn.