EMS Today Conference & Exhibition: Show Highlights

By Teresa McCallion

Day two of the EMS Today Conference & Exhibition began with sessions in several tracks including "Clinical Essentials," featuring speaker Corey Slovis, MD, FACP, FACEP. Slovis, a conference favorite and medical director for Nashville Fire Department, entertained and educated attendees with a review of illnesses that cause altered mental status.

"Think of me as a friend," he encouraged his audience. "A friend who’s always right."

Using his famous Slovis "Five Rule" approach, he outlined causes and prehospital treatment strategies for hypo- and hyperglycemic reactions, diabetic ketoacidosis, hyperkalemia, dyspnea and congestive heart failure.

In the field, Slovis says, prehospital providers must assume the worst, learn from their mistakes and, most of all, do whatever least harms the patient.

Friday also saw the opening of the exhibit hall. Hundreds of exhibitors filled the lower level of the conference center. Booths included the traditional ambulance vendors, state-of-the art equipment and publishers of public safety books and materials. Several fire and EMS agencies also took the opportunity to recruit paramedics from among the several thousand conference attendees.

In the afternoon sessions, Doug Wolfberg, JD, EMT, partner with Page, Wolfberg & Wirth LLC, told a real-life cautionary tale of a nonprofit ambulance organization that fell prey to a growing crisis – internal embezzlement and misappropriation of company money and property. Drawing from personal experiences as a lawyer for the EMS, ambulance and medical transportation industry law firm, Wolfberg described the ripple effect such crimes cause for public safety organizations that depend on community support.

Wolfberg then outlined ways in which organizations can institute checks and balances that help avoid being the victim of embezzlement or, at the very least, minimize the damage. He provided specific steps organizations could take to plan for bad publicity before it happened and encouraged session attendees to develop a compliance plan and conduct regular audits.

The highlight of the evening was the Finals of the Fourth Annual JEMS Games Competition. Out of the 20 teams that began the competition Thursday, three were left to compete before packed bleachers. The finalists included Plymouth (Wisc.) Ambulance Service; a combined team from San Diego County with members from AMR, Bonita-Sunnyside Fire District and San Miguel Consolidated Fire District; and last year’s champions from the Fire Department of New York City (FDNY) EMS.

The evolving scenario, set at a busy café, included an emergency childbirth. To complicate matters, the crewmembers, who had stopped at the café for lunch, found they had locked their equipment in their rig and were forced to use the equipment of another crew that happen to be dining at the same cafe. While the competitors attended to the difficult obstetric delivery, a member of the other crew collapsed, splitting the team. The third paramedic had to handle the call with an ALS crew with whom they had never worked before.

The competitors had 20 minutes to evaluate, treat and package the three patients while judges evaluated their performance using extensive protocol sheets to score every action.

In keeping with the 25th anniversary of EMS Today, nationally known speakers and educators Baxter Larmon, PhD, and Walt Stoy, PhD, demonstrated how an ambulance crew would have handled the call in 1982, with hilarious results.

The winners of the JEMS Games will be announced at a ceremony Saturday morning.

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