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Leadership, whole blood and EMS safety insights

Report and commentary from the North Carolina EMS Expo 2024

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Editor’s note: This episode of EMS One-Stop With Rob Lawrence is brought to you by Lexipol, the experts in policy, training, wellness support and grants assistance for first responders and government leaders. To learn more, visit lexipol.com.



In this special, on-site episode of EMS One-Stop, host Rob Lawrence takes us to the 2024 North Carolina EMS Expo in Greensboro, North Carolina, a well-attended conference with over 1,200 attendees.

Rob spent time with several conference faculty.

  • EMS lawyer Matt Streger joins Rob to discuss just culture, HR issue spotting, leadership communication and employee engagement.
  • Kevin Collopy joins Rob to discuss the outstanding prehospital training being delivered to medics in Ukraine and also discusses this years “Stand and Deliver” new speaker event (a now annual event held as EMS World Expo).
  • Rob discusses whole blood and its national rollout with Dr. Randall Schaeffer and David Grovdahl.
  • To close, Peter Dworsky of the National EMS Safety Conference provides an overview of the current top EMS industry safety themes.

Top quotes from this episode

“Develop your personal board of directors. Honestly, it’s a Ray Baranski line. But he’s the one who pointed out that phrase, and I use it in every one of my programs. The people that are successful have surrounded themselves with people who give them the hard advice.” — Matt Streger

“So, Ukraine is probably one of the most beautiful countries. The people are some of the most passionate and positive and resilient individuals you could possibly meet. I was there for 10 days in the country. During that time, I was woken up at night because of country air raid sirens five times. I felt the fatigue on me in a week. The folks I was teaching, the folks I was teaching how to teach our program, have been dealing with that for 2 years, and they’re still positive. They’re still looking out for their country. They still believe in maintaining their independence, and they will do anything to help each other.” — Kevin Collopy

“Whole blood saves lives. There is no doubt about that. And so, it is probably the greatest improvement in trauma care in the civilian world. And so, we are trying to spread the message as far as we possibly can from coast to coast.” — David Grovdahl

“Unfortunately, we have a lot of blood deserts. So, in states where paramedic scope of practice does not allow them to initiate a blood transfusion, that is a barrier that needs to be overcome. But there are states that are successfully overcoming that barrier. And then others are facing challenges with getting blood sourced. So, we have had some amazing blood centers step up, hospitals step up and support EMS. But unfortunately, that’s not happening across the country.” — Dr. Randall Schaeffer

“The mortality rates from trauma are very high in the rural areas just because of access to hospitals and access to care. So, we are getting blood into those areas where it is most critically needed. And so, North Carolina has really made some great strides in a very short amount of time.” — David Grovdahl

“It takes commitment, and I would say that this is the only clinical intervention that EMS does that requires so many stakeholders to get accomplished. You have got to talk to your hospital. You have to talk to your blood centers. If you have a regional Advisory Council, get them involved, you know, if David buys a new defibrillator, he doesn’t have to go to the hospital and ask permission and have cardiology oversee it. You just do it, right? Right. But you can’t do that with blood. It’s a team sport. You’ve got to get a lot of stakeholders involved.” — David Grovdahl

“To effectively reduce light and siren usage, we need to start changing the mindset of three groups of people. I think the people actually driving the ambulances ... we need to get administrators on board with the knowledge that they’re going to get some pushback from the community and the politicians that we’re not driving fast to calls, and then we have to change the patients’ perspective of, just because you call for an ambulance, does it mean it needs to be there in 10 minutes? You’ve had this problem for several hours now. It’s OK to wait 5 more minutes. What I would teach safety classes and I would teach providers, is it does you no good to get halfway there really fast and then crash.” — Peter Dworsky

Episode contents

00:25 Live from the North Carolina EMS Expo

01:00 – Matt Streger on leadership

04:00 – Kevin Collopy

05:00 – Ukraine training

05:30 – Need for trauma training in Ukraine

07:30 – Handing on to the Ukrainian faculty

08:00 – Stand and Deliver

09:00 – Stand and Deliver winner Rebecca Carmody

11:00 – Stand and Deliver call to action, call to all new future speakers

12:30 – Whole blood with Doctor Randall Schaeffer and David Grovdahl

14:00 – Whole blood saves lives!

14:40 – Tracking 150 ground agencies using whole blood, new paramedic scope of practice, a rate determining step in rolling out whole blood

15:30 – North Carolina whole blood programs

16:00 – Whole blood to areas where it is most needed

16:50 – If we all do blood, that’s a whole lot of blood we need

17:30 – Blood supply, sources, rotation

18:00 – Public safety providers as donors

19:30 – Blood earlier reduces products used in hospital

20:40 – Reimbursement for blood, including blood in CMS reimbursement

22:30 – Peter Dworsky and the national EMS safety conference

24:00 – Highlighting safety in EMS

24:30 – The culture of safety, driver safety, lights and sirens reduction

25:00 – Collisions, crashes and thefts

27:00 – Changing the mindset of drivers, administrators and the patient

29:30 – The 2025 national EMS safety conference

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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.

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