Editor’s Note: Firefighter-Paramedic Steve Whitehead’s EMS educational video series – “One for the Road,” launches on EMS1 on October 18.
The series, produced in partnership with EMS1 and Hartwell Medical, offers quick tips and practical advice for overcoming common challenges in the prehospital field.
Join the conversation:
“Give me 3-5 minutes of your time and I will tell you something useful that you can use on your next call.”
You may remember Whitehead, a paramedic and EMS instructor with the South Metro Fire Rescue Authority in Lone Tree, Colorado; and creator of the blog, The EMT Spot; from his popular series, “Remember Two Things.”
His enthusiasm for sharing his knowledge and passion for EMS education shines in this series, in which he offers tips on everything from how to fasten a patient without tugging the straps, to how to achieve a cleaner IV stick, to the best way to apply a tourniquet. We sat down with Whitehead to get a sneak peek at the upcoming season.
EMS1: Tell us about your EMS background.
Whitehead: I became an EMT in 1990 and a paramedic a few years later. I’m still a full-time street paramedic working in Colorado. I was fortunate to find something that I was passionate about very early on in my life. Some people spend their whole lives looking for meaningful work that they love. I found it in EMS almost immediately.
I started teaching a few years later and it has always remained a part of my EMS experience through writing, blogging, classroom teaching and video creation.
I’m also fortunate to be a content creator for the Lexipol EMS1 Academy, which allows me to reach a large audience of EMS learners. I’ve always been a believer in the philosophy of “learn one; do one; teach one.” Teaching through various mediums is just such a great way to keep yourself engaged in the work, learning and becoming better every shift.
EMS1: You’re a natural on camera, how did you get into video production?
Whitehead: Thank you, that’s nice of you to say. I think the camera may have just been a natural progression of teaching in front of a classroom. When the camera is rolling, I’m picturing a huge audience on the other side of the camera and I’m excited to try to deliver some information that they may find useful and helpful. People’s time is the most valuable thing that they have and when they click on that video, I’m genuinely excited that they’ve showed up, and I want them to leave with something valuable. I think that authentic excitement comes through on camera.
EMS1: What was the inspiration for ‘One for the Road?’
Whitehead: Each episode of “One for the Road” is part love letter and part rant. Everyone involved in this project, from Hartwell Medical and Triple Zilch Productions, to EMS1, have a passion for giving back something valuable to this industry that we love. We all genuinely care about the people who choose this career path. The series is based on the idea that it’s an extension of the conversation that you have with your partner in the front seat of the ambulance after the call. Those conversations are some of the most important conversations that we have in this industry – the honest evaluation of whether or not you did the right thing and what you might do next time. Those moments when you look at your partner and say, “How could we have done that better?” Not everyone has an experienced mentor or friend in EMS. This series allows us to have those conversations with a larger audience.
EMS1: What do you like about the short video format for EMS education?
Whitehead: I love this format. We’ve always tried to stay focused on the idea of getting to the point quickly. You can teach someone for 30 or 45 minutes and, a week later, they may remember one or two valuable tidbits from what you said. Let’s just get to those valuable tidbits right away. Mark Twain once said, “I’m sorry I didn’t have time to write you a short letter so I wrote a long one.” This series reflects that spirit. Communicating something of value in 3-5 minutes is harder than doing it in 30-45 minutes. But if you do it successfully, I think people are more willing to come back and click on the next video and give you another chance.
EMS1: What’s your philosophy about continuing education in EMS?
Whitehead: In our industry, you have to keep learning if you want to continue to do the job well. There’s just no other option. If you’re not committed to being a lifelong learner, you’ll stagnate. Part of being an educator is my own selfish desire to be better as a practitioner. I’m not a full-time EMS educator. I’m a full-time paramedic in a 911 system and I speak from that perspective.
EMS1: What topics can we expect in the upcoming season?
Whitehead: The creative process and preparation for something like this can sometimes feel long and tedious. However, I’m always excited when this moment comes; when we have all of the new episodes “in the can” so-to-speak and I know what the entire season looks like and I’m just waiting for the new episodes to come out. This season, we’re going to talk about some recent events, like the Damar Hamlin cardiac arrest and the hysteria surrounding fentanyl exposure. We’ll also get into some of the basic foundational skills, like optimizing your BVM technique and ideas for difficult splinting scenarios. We’ll dig deeper on some interesting questions like, how should we transport people in custody? Should we ever run on scene, or put defibrillator pads on people who are having STEMIs?
EMS1: Why should EMS1 members bookmark the ‘One for the Road’ series?
Whitehead: I would say, don’t only bookmark this series; become an active participant in the conversation. I’m going to tell you what I think from my side of the camera. But it’s also important that you tell us what you think. The real magic happens when the viewer sees that they can also add value to the conversation and make their own contribution. Ideally, I would like to see the “One for the Road” video series become the station coffee chat of the EMS1 platform, where the readers and viewers feel like they can add their own contributions as well, and everybody’s voice is valued. But you can’t be a part of that conversation if you don’t know when it’s happening. Bookmark it. I look forward to seeing you over virtual coffee.