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Dr. Dave Williams: 12 questions to learn about your system

Generate learning and improvement opportunities for the organization, citizens and stakeholders


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Dr. Dave Williams, PhD.

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In a recent blog post, Dave Williams, PhD, noted that half to two-thirds of Dallas city general funds are dedicated to police, fire and EMS. With significant tax dollar investments, elected officials, community leaders, and the media want to be good stewards. Still, they are frequently not equipped with the knowledge or data to determine if their services are built to get results and where there are opportunities for improvement.

In this week’s podcast, host Rob Lawrence sat down with EMS thought leader, Dr. Dave Williams, to discuss and identify the 12 questions local leaders can use to learn about their communities. Each point discussed should generate ideas for more learning and improvement both inside an organization and for those citizens and elected officials that surround it.

Top quotes from this episode

“I have been to dozens of ambulance systems around the world and met with leadership teams and I can count on one hand the number of times they started by talking to me about their clinical outcomes.”

“Almost all of your staff are not your generation … which means they have a totally different value system and a totally different prioritization of things.”

“One of your real powers is to be able to help your community and its leaders understand what’s happening in it. The data that you have is a huge enabler for others to be able to change policy.”

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About our guest

Dave Williams, PHD, designs and improves ambulance systems. He is known for leading objective, ethical and collegial approaches focused on patient and community needs, and incorporating evidence-based and best practice methods. He is one of a few researchers to study EMS system design. His published doctoral research focused on patient-centric EMS system design.

Dr. Williams is a former paramedic, EMS commander and researcher. Previous leadership positions include the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Fitch & Associates, and Austin-Travis County EMS.

Dr. Williams is faculty at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and serves as a senior improvement advisor. He served as faculty in emergency health services at The George Washington University School of Medicine and public safety management at St. Edward’s University. He supported professional development programs, including the National Association of EMS Physicians Quality and Safety program, the American Ambulance Association Ambulance Service Manager Program, and the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch Communication Center Manager Program.

Dr. Williams served as the vice chairman of the Board of CommUnityCare, the Federally Qualified Health Center system serving the City of Austin, Texas, and was appointed by the Travis County Commissioners Court to serve as a member of the Advisory Board of Austin/Travis County EMS. He is an alumni of Leadership Austin (Essential 2013).

He has contributed to several EMS leadership and research textbooks and published dozens of peer-reviewed papers and industry articles. He is a frequent keynote speaker.

Dr. Williams earned a B.S. in EMS Management and an M.S. in Emergency Health Services Management. He also earned a Ph.D. in Organizational Systems, where his research focused on the obstacles to patient-centric EMS system design.

Connect with Dave Williams

Rob Lawrence has been a leader in civilian and military EMS for over a quarter of a century. He is currently the director of strategic implementation for PRO EMS and its educational arm, Prodigy EMS, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and part-time executive director of the California Ambulance Association.

He previously served as the chief operating officer of the Richmond Ambulance Authority (Virginia), which won both state and national EMS Agency of the Year awards during his 10-year tenure. Additionally, he served as COO for Paramedics Plus in Alameda County, California.

Prior to emigrating to the U.S. in 2008, Rob served as the COO for the East of England Ambulance Service in Suffolk County, England, and as the executive director of operations and service development for the East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust. Rob is a former Army officer and graduate of the UK’s Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and served worldwide in a 20-year military career encompassing many prehospital and evacuation leadership roles.

Rob is a board member of the Academy of International Mobile Healthcare Integration (AIMHI) as well as chair of the American Ambulance Association’s State Association Forum. He writes and podcasts for EMS1 and is a member of the EMS1 Editorial Advisory Board. Connect with him on Twitter.