Exciting times: A renaissance for EMS

At EMS Today 2013, the amount of sessions involving EMS research was incredible


If you have never been to a national conference, put it on your bucket list as an EMS provider. Local and regional conferences are terrific and convenient (and most times, less expensive).

At national shows, however, influential speakers present a dizzying array of topics that can give us a glimpse of the future. It is virtually impossible to leave such an event not feeling exhausted yet refreshed at the same time.

I realized this as I finished a full day of listening to such presentations at EMS Today in DC. There were a couple of trends and an epiphany that are worth noting.

The whole day
First, the "ah-ha" moment: I realized that I spent the entire day listening to research presentations. The whole day.

The fact there’s so many sessions involving EMS research is incredible and a cause of great optimism for our industry.

The information coming out of the research is also astounding. Some of it is already months old, but listening to all of it in just a few hours was nearly breathtaking.

CPR rate is closer to 120? Passive oxygenation using a nasal cannula at 15 liters per minute? Measuring lactate levels in blood to detect unrecognized shock? Spinal immobilizing patients without a backboard?

Best for us
Also exciting was the realization that the research was being conducted by not only physicians with a specific interest in field care, but also field providers bent on figuring out what is best for us.

Other lessons I learned? The community paramedicine concept is here to stay. The sessions related to the expanded role of the field provider were packed.

There were numerous examples and case studies of systems providing a wide array of new services, many that have resulted in improved care and lower cost to the patient. In my 30 years of practice, I have not felt this much excitement from so many colleagues.

Last, even in our more "traditional" role of emergent care provider, there is real development. For instance, recognition and early treatment of severe sepsis by EMS results in better outcomes.

On the show floor, there was better equipment, new products and new ideas to make our jobs easier and more effective.

I am feeling very optimistic that we are experiencing the beginning of a renaissance period for our profession. It's time to take the bull by the horns; it's time that we direct our own future.

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