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EMS Today 2018 Quick Take: EMS and community resiliency

What will you do to improve prehospital medicine and your community?


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Daracus Newman, division chief, Charlotte Fire Department, launched the opening ceremonies at EMS Today 2018 with the local fire department’s colors and pledge.

Newman provided some local background, detailing how Charlotte CPR protocols are improving the spontaneous return rate, and praised Charlotte’s collaboration allowing the fire department to create urban search and rescue teams to work hand in hand with local EMS.

Major Andrew D. Fisher says many feel a calling to join EMS, but for him, the career developed organically. (Courtesy photo)
Major Andrew D. Fisher says many feel a calling to join EMS, but for him, the career developed organically. (Courtesy photo)

After updates on the Alliance on EMS Resiliency and fitness initiatives for EMS providers, the EMS Today team presented the following awards to extraordinary prehospital medicine providers.

  • James O. Page JEMS Award: recognizing an individual who exhibits the drive and tenacious effort to resolve important EMS issues or to bring about positive change in EMS. This award was presented to Dr. Walt Stoy, Ph.D, EMT-P, director and professor, Undergraduate Program in Emergency Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, who is renowned for his efforts in advancing EMS education.
  • John P. Pryor, MD, Street Medicine Society Award: presented to a physician who has come up through the ranks as an EMS provider and demonstrated a sincere ongoing dedication to the betterment of EMS. This award was presented to Benjamin Lawner, director of clinical operations, Alleghany Health Network, Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • Nicholas Rosencrans Award: presented to emergency responders who demonstrate leadership, commitment and innovation in preventing injuries in honor of Nicholas Rosencrans, a 2-year-old child who wandered away from his daycare and drowned in a nearby pool. This award was presented to Captain Mike Filson, Chula Vista Fire Department, by the paramedic who responded to Nicholas’ call and Nicholas’ mother, who collaborate in drowning prevention efforts, including successful legislation.

Memorable quotes on prehospital medicine from the EMS Today keynote

“I would challenge you – like pilots of the air and sea – we can’t control the winds, but we can chart a course, take action to navigate, to accomplish our goals, and make good on the promise we made first time we pinned the badge on our chest.”

—Joe Penner, executive director, MEDIC: Mecklenburg EMS Agency, the paramedic service for the Charlotte, N.C., area, inviting attendees to learn, play and enjoy all Mecklenburg has to offer

“If you’re going to have a cardiac arrest, do it with 10 paramedics in an elevator.”

—Jonathan D. Washko, assistant vice president, Northwell Health’s Center for EMS, thanking his colleagues and the local responders who resuscitated him after a cardiac arrest he suffered in May while attending an EMS Today planning committee meeting the last time he was in Charlotte, N.C.

“I don’t know if you’ll ever know how you affect the families. Even if the child doesn’t survive, you make such a difference.”

 —Lynn Artz, mother of Nicholas Rosencrans, describing how grateful she is for the time paramedics gave her to say goodbye to her son, who ultimately passed away after a drowning incident

“Check your emotions at the door. Being objective is critical to making sound judgements and decisions.”

—Major Andrew D. Fisher, detailing the life or death decisions made in combat medicine

Top takeaways from the EMS Today keynote address

Major Andrew D. Fisher says many feel a calling to join EMS, but for him, the career developed organically. Fisher joined the Army in 1992 as an Infantryman. After completion of the Regimental Indoctrination Program in 1993, he was assigned to the elite 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, where he completed EMT training and fell in love with prehospital medicine.

Fisher shared his experiences in combat and how they have shaped his career in EMS with the following takeaways.

1. Save the lives that can be saved

Fisher recounted several combat injuries he treated in the field, and how the outcomes shaped his approaches to medicine, and his drive to innovate change. He recounted one particularly tough incident when multiple soldiers were severely injured by a blast while returning enemy fire, during which he had to make the incredibly hard decision to cease caring for one soldier without a heartbeat to try to save more lives. 

He acknowledged that EMS providers have also signed up to make those tough calls, and encourages attendees to increase efforts to teach law enforcement and citizens in their own communities how to identify and treat hemorrhage, to lower the unacceptably high rate of preventable deaths due to trauma before EMS arrival on scene.

Fisher related how his Ranger Regiment implemented the use of low titer type O whole blood products to treat hemorrhagic shock, the leading cause of potentially survivable combat deaths, and how the tactic is being used outside of the battlefield.  

Remember the goals, “more lives saved and a better community.”

2. There’s no room for apathy in EMS

Apathy, laziness and ignorance have no place in prehospital medicine, Fisher stressed. “We’ve all witnessed the EMS provider who just rides it out. If you’re apathetic about EMS, get out. If you’re ignorant, meaning you lack the knowledge, we can fix that, we can educate you.”

Fisher called for expanding the definition of EMS and redefining the entire educational approach to prehospital medicine, from more tracks and rigorous education for paramedics, to extending hours required for EMT training, noting hairdressers need 1,000 hours of training, far more than their EMT counterparts who are performing medicine.   

3. You need to be an EMS visionary

“The legends of EMS, the giants whose shoulders we’ve been standing on, that we’ve all come to admire, are leaving prehospital medicine,” Fisher emphasized. “It’s up to you. It’s your responsibility to step up and take the reins and take prehospital medicine where it needs to be.”

As a 45-year-old second-year medical student, Fisher said the most important question you can ask is why? “It will open things up for you,” he noted. Ask questions and look at what needs to be improved in EMS, in prehospital medicine education, in your communities. Ask yourself, “What are you going to do to change prehospital medicine?”

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