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Pinnacle Serves up Food for Thought

It was a compelling idea: inspire leaders representing the three largest private ambulance services in the country and the incoming president of the IAFC to sit down together and discuss the issues that divide them—all in front of an audience of some 300-plus EMS executives and fire chiefs.

That’s what happened at the 2012 Pinnacle EMS Leadership Forum, held in July in Colorado Springs, during a special general session. Facilitated by Pinnacle’s program chair Jay Fitch with questions submitted by editors from leading EMS publications, the session featured Bill Metcalf representing the IAFC; Mark Bruning, CEO of AMR; Rural-Metro’s Phil Forgione; and Boo Heffner, representing newcomer Falck.

Perhaps signaling a truce, the panelists generally took care not to speak ill of their fellow representatives while agreeing the future is going to be tumultuous, with a twinge of cautious optimism for improved collaboration. At lunch following the session, Chief Metcalf was enthusiastic about the potential for this kind of dialogue between the public and private sectors.

Back in November 2010, our cover story’s headline was a question that read: “Community Paramedicine: An Idea Whose Time Has Come?” Judging by the response at Pinnacle, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” A special Pinnacle Power workshop on the topic, facilitated by Kevin McGinnis, attracted 123 participants, by far the most popular preconference session in Pinnacle’s history.

The article described an innovative program to provide alternative non-transport care that was just getting started in rural Eagle County, Colo. At the Pinnacle session, Chris Montera, chief of the Western Eagle Ambulance District, and Anne Robinson, a public health nurse who works with Chris, were two of several speakers who captured the crowd’s attention. They documented their successes and talked about lessons learned, including working hand-in-glove with public health and state leadership.

Gary Wingrove of the Mayo Clinic, an international advocate of the movement, told how opposition from nursing groups that were worried about “infringement on their turf” had been overcome in recent months through old-fashioned dialogue and diplomacy. He reminded the audience that one of the hallmarks of successful programs is not to expand a paramedic’s scope of practice, which has the potential to raise resistance from the wider medical community, but to use existing skills more fully, such as assuming the role of patient educator, prevention specialist or disease management coordinator.

Our feature story this month details the efforts of little Bozeman, Mont., to match Seattle’s statistics when it comes to sudden cardiac arrest survival rates. Ed Racht, M.D., AMR’s medical director, led a session at Pinnacle on “a new approach to leadership in resuscitation” that encouraged participants to be inspired by the success of places like Bozeman, and to challenge conventional wisdom that improvements in SCA aren’t worth the effort. It’s clear, he said, that collaboration can have a dramatic effect not just on SCA survival rates, but in many other areas of a community’s EMS system as well.

There were many more interesting sessions than can be covered here, but in an encouraging sign for interest in leadership development, Jay Fitch reports that this year’s Pinnacle attracted the largest participation in its six-year history. That represents a lot of inspiration, education and networking.

Produced in partnership with NEMSMA, Paramedic Chief: Best Practices for the Progressive EMS Leader provides the latest research and most relevant leadership advice to EMS managers and executives. From emerging trends to analysis and insight, practical case studies to leadership development advice, Paramedic Chief is packed with useful, valuable ideas you simply can’t get anywhere else.
An effort to bring together the leaders of national EMS membership organizations to build communication, trust and collaboration on issues aims to allow EMS to “speak with one voice”