Patch me through to the patient please

In one of the opening scenes of the disliked NBC series TRAUMA, the medics responding are wearing their headsets and suddenly begin speaking to the 911 caller.

“Oh, yeah…right…” was my first response too.

But think about it.  Imagine being finally able to put the caller in touch with someone other than the call taker.  What if the Paramedic or EMT responding was able to apply their education and experience to decide how the system will react to this patient.

It might become more efficient.

The call is received, the unit assigned, then the caller transferred to the practitioner assigned to respond.  They begin assembling facts that the little boxes of the priority dispatch and the untrained ears of the call taken can’t identify.

“OK, so you have asthma, but this doesn’t feel like an asthma attack, you just want some albuterol?” There is no code for that other than an asthma attack, but now we can downgrade the call and possibly save a life and time.  Who’s life?  Not the caller’s they’re fine.  But the responders now travelling with traffic reduces the risk of accident.  The call that may come in with CPR in progress can be triaged ahead now that we have a more accurate idea of what’s happening at the first call.

We’ve spent so much time designing systems to categorize, prioritize and automate dispatches we forgot to upgrade the callers and the call takers.  Instead of staffing dispatch with practitioners, why not just let me talk to the patient you’re about to hang up on anyway to meet your target time.

I can begin to establish if that little code even matches what’s going on, gage my response based on what the caller is telling me and save time in patient care for being ready for exactly what’s going on.


We could ditch the codes and just dispatch based on their chief complaint.

Funny you should ask…

I like it here in Dever at Zoll Summit.

I like talking to the rep that handles my Department’s monitors and ePCRs.  I like talking to the sales people about what’s new and improved in the line of products.  I like listening to presentations from speakers about the future of EMS technology and how, as one twitter follower asked, it’s getting smaller, smarter and cheaper.

I sent out a message yesterday morning asking you what you would change on your monitors if you could.  The responses were what we all expect, smaller, lighter, less cumbersome, better cables, but the one thing that was mentioned most was the ability to wirelessly transmit 12 lead ECGs to any destination regardless of proprietary tech on the receiving side.

When I read that I nearly shouted out loud in the presentation room.  Reason being that the speaker was discussing the launch today of ZOLL RescueNet 12-Lead, an open architecture, browser based transmission system that allows any person with log on credentials to view a transmitted 12-Lead anywhere they have an internet signal.

You Make the Call – MotorDoc

You are dispatched to a reported motorcycle down in a trouble area in your district.  On arrival you find a single motorcycle has impacted the side of a big rig tractor which was turning in front of him.  He is laying supine, helmet removed prior to your arrival and is alert and oriented.

The rider states he was travelling at 20-30 mph and pulled the brakes when he realized he was not going to make it around the truck.  The skid marks leading up to the truck match that story and you begin your assessment.

Deformity to the left clavicle, self splinted and pain on palpation to the left flank are noted with no flail segment noticible on palpation or observation.  No other trauma is noted and the helmet is pristine.

As you begin to cut the leather jacket, after convincing him it will not be a good idea to pull it off considering the injury, he pulls rank.

"Ease up kid, I'm a Doctor.  Just do what I say and I'll be fine."

You pause a moment and consider his statement.  After the first try to move his arm ends in screams, he reluctantly agrees to cut just only the area needed.

As C-spine precautions are applied he bats them away and adds another gem, "I'm not going to Regional Trauma, take me to Saint Farthest."

Saint Farthest is a local ER, most often staffed with a general practitioner doing their rotation.  They have no surgical capabilities and the last time you took a patient there with a decent laceration there was an argument.


The patient identifies himself as a trauma doc and doesn't want to bother his co-workers.

He'll agree to the collar and board if you agree to take him to St Farthest.

What do you do?

You make the call.

Read through the comments, the click HERE to see what call I made.

Epiosde 10 of the Crossover – Quit being stupid!

Happy and Motor are at it again, finally, and this time calling out some stupid things done by stupid people while representing EMS, fire and police. From the ambulance company who lost $1 million to the 27 year old DUI while driving a fire truck and a special comment from Motorcop about a narcotics officer in Happy’s area caught stealing and selling narcotics. Quit being stupid!



Another great conference comes to a close and the blogosphere is full of great reviews, so many that I have yet to read them all.

Some highlights for me included meeting new faces, like maddog medic and Shaolin Traumashere at meetups and in the Zoll booth.

The most inspirational moment for me came on the last day as things were winding down.  It wasn’t someone inspired by our content or who writes blogs, or even someone who developed a new EMS system or program, but two sisters.

This was also the moment I realized the importance of being a person before being a blogger and how something so seemingly innocent can easily lead to disaster.

Zoll offers a CPR Challenge station so two people can do it side by side and compare their ability.  As I was sipping coffee in the booth, I looked over and saw two girls barely old enough to reach the CPR set up at the station doing their best, which was as good or better than I’ve seen sometimes in the field by “experienced rescuers.”

It was inspirational!  Here were 2 kids barely old enough to spell Emergency, having fun applying the basics of CPR!  Forget teaching this in high schools, we need to move it forward.

Then I ruined the moment, and in an awkward way.  Being the person I am, I wanted to capture this amazing moment I was witnessing.  My hand went instinctively for my phone and before I knew what was happening I was framing up a photo.

Goosebumps were forming on my arms thinking about how the description of what I was seeing could be applied in so many ways to help rescuers and lay people alike take CPR seriously.

Through the viewfinder suddenly the mother of the children was sternly, and rightly, asking me who I was and why I was trying to photograph her children.

Now this moment was stained by my wanting to be a part of it.  The mother’s interaction with me distracted the kids and the moment I had wanted to capture was gone and I felt like an idiot.  I never did snap the photo and offered my phone to her to prove it.  Apologies spilled from my mouth and I returned to the podium where my coffee was and reflected on what had just happened.

“Way to go” I thought to myself.  I could have simply watched, applauded when they were finished and had a perfect memory to use when convincing schools to add CPR classes.

I let my need to capture things digitally interfere with capturing the soul and emotion of what was happening. Something that, I now know, would have been far more powerful than a picture.

The rest of the day and our entire trip home that moment sank in and I began to second guess not getting the photo.

“Perhaps if I explained why?” The little angel on my shoulder offered.

“Oh, yeah sure, tell mom you’re taking the picture to put on the internet, that’ll go smoothly,” responded the devil on the other side.

Now when I reflect on the moment that was, then was not, I realize there was quite the crowd gathering to watch what happened and I ruined it for them as well.


Baltimore Checklist

Alright ramblers, let’s get ramblin’!

EMSToday promises to be another huge success and the folks at JEMS are working hard to make the conference their best ever.

Aside from world class presentations for every level of practitioner, manager and owner/Chief, a giant exhibit floor and the popular JEMS games on Friday night, there are a number of things I’m hoping to see in Baltimore this year.

First for me is the reaction to the brand new Brady/San Francisco Paramedic Association curriculum being debuted pre-conference.  Partnering with Chronicles of EMS producer Thaddeus Setla, the folks that brought you high quality video production for Beyond the lights & Sirens and A Seat at the Table have raised the bar in education media.  Gone are the days of a camera pointed at a lectern passing for multi-media in EMS education.  The team is signed on to complete the entire tract and you’ll likely see it in a classroom near you soon.

While on the exhibit floor, I’m going to check in with the folks at AllMed and see what’s new in uniforms and equipment.  AllMed is the supplier of the dress uniforms for Beyond the Lights & Sirens and they always have something new and exciting in the booth.  And they’re the only vendor I recall that brings a seamstress to hem those new pants right there on the show floor!

A big topic at EMSWorld was ambulance safety and I’ll be asking some tough questions of the manufacturers this year, mostly why they keep putting a little box on the back of a pickup truck and call it an ambulance.

Home this year is exactly that, our little corner of the Zoll booth #3707.  Last year we were added at the last minute and had to carve out a section in front of the closet.  Those who visited remember the crowded feeling and we ended up just standing in the isleway.  Zoll saw the crowds we were bringing in and have actually engineered a separate section of their new floor show just for us.  Come see it, meet Ted Setla and record your own “I am EMS 2.0″ video.  While there, get a free CoEMS T-shirt and find out how you can be a part of the new First Responders Network TV channel.  Oops, I’ve said too much.

The show is going to be great and the folks at JEMS will no doubt outdo themselves again.

But what to do when the classes are over and the hall closed?  That leaves the out of conference activities to us!

Here’s your cheat sheet:

Wednesday night-

Pratt Street Ale House – Directly across from the convention center, second floor, the Zoll Pre-Conference Blogger Bash, beginning at 8pm – 11pm.  A non-formal, smaller gathering to get fired up for the opening of the conference.

Thursday night-

Uno’s Chicago Grill – Farther up Pratt street in the Harbor, THIS is the meetup everyone is talking about.  Hosted by FireEMSBlogs this is the gathering that last year garnered the attention of most EMS bloggers, most fire bloggers and a handful of Chiefs who were curious what we were up to.  I know everyone last year just came to meet Mark Glencorse, but this year promises to be another amazing success.  The guys from GoForward Media know how to throw a party and have spent a year planning this event to blow all previous events out of the water.  And considering their events in Indy and Houston last year, the bar is set pretty high.  You’ll need the Zoll Pre-Conference party just to condition yourself for this one I promise you!

Did I miss anything?

Beyond the Lights & Sirens turns 1

A year ago we were gathered in the ballroom at the Hotel Frank in San Francisco waiting for Thaddeus Setla to press the play button.

The time finally came to show the audience what we had filmed the previous November in the engines and ambulances of an American EMS system while UK Paramedic Mark Glencorse followed along.  A hush fell over the crowd of EMTs, Paramedics, friend, industry leaders and family when Thaddeus raised his hands and said, “Our online audience is watching it right now, can we dim the lights please?”

Chronicles of EMS – The Reality Series (Season 1 Episode 1) from Thaddeus Setla on Vimeo.

25 minutes later, after a few good laughs and plenty of smiles the show finished and I found Mark in the crowd.  We were near tears seeing what Setla had done to capture the emotion we had experienced months before.  It was like reliving all we had learned in our trans-Atlantic exchange.

The evening was a great success and the following morning found us in Setla’s studio filming the first 3 episodes of A Seat at the Table.

1 year later we’ve released 23 episodes and have plenty more planned as well as in post production.

The reality series got a new name, thanks to our audience and network TV executives are curious to see what else we have in mind.

If they only knew.

In recent weeks you’ve seen A LOT of activity at the Chronicles site because we are gaining partners and growing rapidly.  No longer is “Chronicles” (#CoEMS on the twitter) simply about Justin Mark and Ted in San Francisco.  Chronicles of EMS is now only part of the content planned for he new First Responders Network TV.  We’ve partnered with fire centered production houses to create new original training and entertaining content similar to the EMS side.

And we’re not stopping there.

If Tak Response taught us anything, it’s that cross training outside your discipline is exciting, new and long over due.  For that reason law enforcement will also be included in FRN.TV, focusing on how we can all learn from each other before the incident instead of during it.

We never landed in prime time on Discovery Health traveling the world exploring EMS systems, but we have time to do better.

Keep an eye on the Chronicles of EMS site for details about our new partnership with the SFPA and Brady and how EMTs all over the country will soon be familiar with what we’re doing.

In addition, Seat at the Table has expanded into new territory, sitting down with the International Association of EMS Chiefs as well as sign language expert Louise Sattler to discuss communicating with unique patients.

We’re charging forward in every direction, working on both reality shows, training series, CE content (coming soon) and a host of scripted dramas, comedies and features that will bring EMS into the home of Americans in a way they have never seen before: Accurate and entertaining.

Thanks for all your support over the last 365 days, and I hope we can count on it in the future.


Top 3 Thank Yous of 2010

I know how you internet folks love lists so how about the top 3 people I want to thank for making this year a grweat one:

1. A tie between Mark Glencorse and Ted Setla.  At this point you should all know why, but these two guys took an idea and turned it into something I am very proud of.  Without their support, creativity and determination, most of what I mention here and around the Country would be simply on a screen instead of taking on a life of it’s own.  And not just my words and ideas, but those of a new generation of practitioners, finally finding out there are more out there wanting to do better than we are led to believe.

2. Charlotte, Blake, Jon and everyone at Zoll Medical.  If you ever met me in person at a show or event, chances are it was because of the generous support of Zoll Medical and their team.  Baltimore, Denver, Indianapolis, Dallas, all those trips and all those hours on the show floor meeting you all was because a company saw a chance to be a part of something new.  Something so new even the creators had no idea what was going to happen.  Zoll jumped in with both feet and has been there every step of the way for me and I will always accept a place in their shadow for as long as they’ll let me tag around.

3. You.  You reading this little therapy experiment that literally saved me from insanity.  It completely overran me this year, causing stress and strife in the real world, but reading comments from new and familiar names alike gives a sense of community I can’t really describe in words.  When I see someone has taken the time to even visit the site where I ramble on about myself, let alone leave a comment, it means a lot.  And not just here, but for the entire Chronilces of EMS movement/Community/gang/whatever we are, EMS 2.0, you name it, none of it would be happening without you guys taking the time out of your day to read what others think and comment, discuss, act and force change.  That’s huge, so thank you.

I haven’t been feeling well as of late and will be taking one of those famous blogger breaks for a little bit.

Cover my calls?


the Crossover Show – Episode 7 FSTs and the News

Another installment of my mother’s favorite podcast is up and live featuring myself and the ever talented Motorcop of

This week he discusses some of the news stories from the LEO perspective including blood draws for DUI and a man shot for pointing a hose nozzle at police. I mention the New Mexico EMT recovering from a head on collision on I-25 and how many ambulance accidents could be avoided entirely.

News of Scarlett Johannsen’s divorce makes the list, as do more listener questions.

Speaking of listener questions, did you know you can now CALL INTO the show? Well, not really, but admit it, you were excited for a second. Leave a voicemail at 313 451-HMMC and we’ll answer your question on the next show.
What will that topic be? Listen to episode 7 for details. We’ve actually planned a topic. GASP!

Episode 7

You can also subscribe to the show feed HERE

We have been busy little bees indeed.