Q&A: Addressing EMS challenges through collaboration at Pinnacle 2018

Jay Fitch discusses EMS trends, from finding value in data, to the EMS Agenda 2050 project, that will highlight the retreat-like conference in Phoenix


Pinnacle will be held at the JW Marriott in Phoenix, July 23-27, 2018. Register early at pinnacle-ems.com and save up to $290.

By EMS1 Staff

The Pinnacle EMS Leadership Forum brings together EMS leaders from every service model and every part of the nation for an exploration of the trends and challenges that face our profession. EMS1 is proud to be the premier media partner for this important event. Jay Fitch, PhD, founding partner of Fitch & Associates, which produces Pinnacle, tells us what to expect this year. 

Paramedic Chief: The increasing use of data to improve operations and clinical care seems to be gaining momentum. What can we expect to hear on this at Pinnacle?

Sessions show how data can be employed in community risk reduction, improving responder mental health, evaluating clinical care and ensuring patient safety. (Photo/Pinnacle-EMS.com)
Sessions show how data can be employed in community risk reduction, improving responder mental health, evaluating clinical care and ensuring patient safety. (Photo/Pinnacle-EMS.com)

Jay Fitch: The very first Pinnacle in 2006 focused on the use of data in deployment strategies, and the use of data, research and evidence-based interventions has been a hallmark of the conference ever since. Now, agencies have vast amounts of data to use to measure and improve performance – and beyond that, many are now using standardized performance measures, allowing them to benchmark themselves against other similar services.

In a session on finding value in your data, Scott Bourn, PhD, will facilitate a great group of faculty members sharing just how EMS leaders can use their data in new and exciting ways. Other sessions show how data can be employed in community risk reduction, improving responder mental health, evaluating clinical care and ensuring patient safety. 

What’s another trend you’ll be addressing?

We see a continuing need to address challenges in EMS and preparedness on a regional level, whether we’re talking about dispatch, systems of care, MIH/community paramedicine or dealing with disasters. That takes a willingness to truly engage in collaboration with other stakeholders.

My session, “The Power of Collaboration,” addresses this head on. Collaboration is a lot more than just coordination or communication. It takes certain skills, patience and a very specific strategy, beyond the centralized command and control mindset that many in our profession grew up with.

We also have a workshop called “New Approaches to Public and Private Partnerships in Fire and EMS," which will share how many agencies are partnering with each other and with private entities to find more efficient ways to serve their communities.

The EMS Agenda 2050 project has completed the last of four regional meetings and will next be releasing a draft later this spring. What will Pinnacle have to share in terms of the project’s recommendations?

The EMS Agenda 2050 project’s facilitator, Mike Taigman; and Jon Krohmer, MD, head of the Office of EMS at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which supported the project, will be speaking at Pinnacle – their first scheduled presentation together after the draft is released for public comment.

The process they went through to hold listening sessions and public meetings all over the country and solicit feedback from every kind of stakeholder was impressive. Knowing how much the original ’96 Agenda for the Future influenced the profession, I can’t wait to hear what they have to say about what role the profession could have in 30 years – and what it needs to do now to prepare for that role.

What’s special about Pinnacle this year?

Participants tell us that the relaxed and retreat-like format of the conference, with everyone in the same hotel, really lends itself to networking, learning and recharging the batteries. 

We know it’s tough to be an EMS leader these days, and we bring in speakers from outside the profession to motivate and inspire. Our opening and closing keynotes represent the best of that tradition. Nationally recognized inspirational speaker John O’Leary will kick off the conference with his story of personal endurance and how just one person, one action or one word can make a difference. In our closing keynote, Dr. Teri Pipe gives us a new way of thinking about compassion and resilience as the chief well-being officer at Arizona State University.

Why Phoenix in the middle of summer?

We look for variety and value in the hotels we choose, and the JW Marriott there is absolutely stunning at an exclusive room rate that represents a great value. Pinnacle participants stay in their sessions during the day while their families enjoy the pools and other attractions. In the cooler shade of evening, you’ll find people gathering outside by the pool and in the many inside-outside bars and eateries. If you’ve never experienced it, the Sonoran Desert is truly beautiful.

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