Friday; wrap up day with another set of great sessions. My only scheduling complaint (besides having so many good sessions overlapping, making for some hard decisions over the 3 day expo), is the entire 2 sessions, lunch/exhibit hall break, 1 session, go home. Unfortunately, I made the decision to leave during lunch, which was ultimately a bad decision since my route home was blocked with a brush fire. Personally, I’d rather have all three sessions together or a late start, 1 session, lunch, 2 sessions. C’est la vie.
My first session of the day ultimately should have been a capstone presentation. Justin Schorr (of The Happy Medic fame) presentation on infiltrating command was a perfect wrap up for the expo. With so many of the sessions revolving around the cutting edge or inevitable evolution of EMS, what good is the information if it never reaches the people who can affect change? More importantly, why can’t (and ultimately why aren’t) you, the individual provider, the agent of change? Research new protocol options or changes. Offer to help set up or run that new program. Become the service expert in some aspect, and then utilize that knowledge and respect to help bring about change. Ultimately the front line providers and supervisors underestimates the power they have if only they were willing to roll up his sleeves and get their hands dirty.
My next session was the Gathering of Eagles conference, which was another great roundup of the current controversies and direction of research in EMS. One of the nicest features of this was how open the session was run. Essentially the discussion was open to what the attendees wanted to discuss. However, like a lot of the research talks, it boils down to a lot of what we do lacks evidence (lack of evidence isn’t the same as evidence of harm), and a lot of interventions might not matter whether it was initiated prehospitally or at the ED. However, EMS is also pushing the EDs to implement new interventions.
On the exhibit hall front, there was a few products that stood out. To be honest, I’m not really big on having the newest shiny toy. I’ll take a standardized patient and proper clinical rotations over a $50k simulator, give me switches instead of touch screens in the ambulance, and I honestly don’t care about portable suctions provided they, well, suck (and don’t get me started on the backboards). However a few products did stand out.
Probably the booth that wowed me the most was the SynDaver booth. Requiring a good foundation in anatomy and physiology is one of my pet peeves, and ideally the anatomy course would be a gross anatomy course. For a variety of reasons, cadaver labs aren’t the easiest to get into. This is where the SynDaver comes into play as an anatomy simulator. There’s a difference between being able to feel, cut, and see actual organs and simply reading about them in a book, including the so-called “Dead Body Book.” To that end, I think that the SynDaver products fills the gap between an anatomy atlas and a cadaver lab rather well.
Technically, this wasn’t a booth but the gurney from one of the ambulance manufacturer displays. There’s some sort beautiful simplicity that comes with combining a pole stretcher with an ambulance gurney. Going off of appearances (this is one of the few toys that I wouldn’t mind having a chance to truly play with), it looks like it gives crews a better choice and access to tools need to move patients over either rough terrain or tight spaces. It’s a better option than, say, putting a transfer flat (another under utilized piece of equipment) under the gurney mattress.
As a final note, thinking back to the topics and the conversations, one thing I’m thankful for is the topics, the bluntness, and the level of discussion maintained during the conference. As a veteran of EMS discussion sites online over the past several years (before the rise of EMS 2.0, JEMS Connect, or the EMS Blog-o-sphere), I know the hot button topics. I know which comments will bring out frothing hatred not because the message is wrong or because the poster is “trolling,” but because of how personal some people take EMS. So to hear one of the presenters state that EMS in the United States is still trying to recover from the harm of the 1993 EMT-B curriculum was shocking. Not because it was news to me. Not because I disagree, either on an intellectual level or a personal level as an EMT, but because I know what sort of fire can come with comments like that. It was shocking to finally be with a group of people who have a similar view-point and who are largely dissatisfied with the current general direction of EMS and are doing their best, in their own way, to help put EMS on the right track.