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National Association of EMS Physicians

President's Message -- March 2022
Michael Levy, MD, FAEMS

There is a strange thing about the Land of the Midnight Sun. Having lived here at 61.2 degrees north latitude for a few decades, I’ve grown accustomed to winter being dark, hours of daylight limited by some type of shift of the planet on its axis, predictable and kind of fun in its own way. Peculiar, too, is that I’ve never been aware of a gradual transition back to longer days but instead it always seems like some type of master light switch has been thrown in our dim theater and then, et voila!, spring has sprung! The day before yesterday was that day. I was summoned by the demanding dog who wanted to walk her human and, holy moly, it was sunny and glorious and my headlamp no longer necessary. 
 
NAEMSP San Diego Meeting a Huge Success
The return of technicolor in my world occasions the reflection that it is now nearly two months since we met in San Diego for what was, in my opinion, one of the most momentous NAEMSP Annual Meetings in our history. The Association committed to an in-person meeting despite the unprecedented uncertainty surrounding all things SARS-CoV-2, and the membership responded by signing up for the conference with the largest-ever number of pre-conference registrations. The pandemic threw down by providing a surge of omicron increasing as we neared the conference itself which, sadly, prevented some of our members from attending due to staffing duties as well as institutional proscriptions against travel. Some of you who couldn’t travel were also slated to provide educational content, raising the degree of difficulty in going forward with the conference. Lest amazing things go unrecognized, a HUGE shoutout must go to Josh Gaither, Chair of the Program Committee, and his amazing team on the Committee who did several quick pivots (no doubt involving a multitude of phone calls and emails) so the conference could go forward without a hitch. Specifically, while some conferences have reacted by placing a banner on a conference room of “Session Cancelled,” that was NOT seen at the NAEMSP Annual Meeting.  All thanks go to Josh, the Committee, the Kellen team and to those presenters who said “yes” when Josh asked. The success of the conference unequivocally answered the question: “Are you ready to responsibly attend an in-person meeting to be with this EMS peer group and family?” Answer: resounding “YES!”.
 
There were so many high points at the conference, it is challenging to call out the “best.” And yet, we should all be proud of the scholarship of a (large) group of the membership who contributed to the NAEMSP Airway Compendium, unveiled at the first day of conference and published as a supplement to the January PEC, which has garnered acclaim and resolutely established NAEMSP’s positions on a part of the practice fundamental to our specialty and often quite different than our hospital-based counterparts. We thank our friends at Stryker Emergency Care for making this open source educational opportunity available worldwide at no cost to our membership. The prominence of PEC in this realm must acknowledge the unparalleled contributions of James Menegazzi, the editor of 25 years who stepped down this year and who brought the journal progressively into its current esteemed status. In tribute to his stewardship of our journal, we shall now have at our yearly meeting the Menegazzi Science Session as the moniker for our scientific sessions. Although Jim cannot be replaced, he does have a very worthy successor in David Cone in whom we have very high confidence for PEC’s continued success. The keynote presentation by Chicago Fire Department Lt. Quention Curtis, founder of the Black Fire Brigade, was riveting, insightful, powerful…a window into one man changing lives of inner-city African American youths through pragmatic solutions that accept people into an EMS career based upon their merits and allowing them to achieve their potential in a program that also requires the agency to reevaluate the criteria it uses to define successful candidates. I strongly encourage you to pick it up on Prodigy EMS if you were not fortunate enough to be there in person. And all of this was just a warmup to all the great content that followed in the ensuing days.
 
Turbulence and Turmoil
Even as the sun shines in my world, darkness certainly has descended elsewhere. As I write this, the fate of Ukraine and its people remain uncertain, and we know that our emergency medicine and EMS colleagues there are faced with immense hardships. Its effect on the world is unfolding with a magnitude yet unknown. I’m sure that we are all hopeful for a speedy end to this senseless aggression. For those of you who spent some elementary school time doing drills of cowering under a desk in the event of Soviet aggression, this is not pleasant déjà vu.
 
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
A central tenet of NAEMSP must be to honor diversity, equity and inclusion. The practice of EMS medicine has always required that we be the unerring and unbiased advocates for all who call for help. The Board of Directors has now granted well-deserved Committee status to the DEI task force based upon the demonstrated need for ongoing work and leadership in this domain. The last such change was a similar one for the Women in EMS Committee. Even as we move forward to become more inclusive, there is growing concern among some of our membership regarding legislation in Florida and Texas that is worrisome for legislating anti-LGBTQ+ bias. This is particularly significant as these are the locations of the 2023 and 2024 NAEMSP Annual Meetings. The BOD has received some early communications from members regarding their discomfort in attending a conference in these states as a result. While it would be no small feat to move a conference of our size, whose contracts are negotiated years in advance and carry very substantial financial penalties for exiting, the Association is here for the members, so we welcome your input on this matter.
 
Legislation of EMS Practice
The NAEMSP is aware of and is monitoring the threats to our practice as evidenced by localities’ legislative interest in the out of hospital treatment of severe agitation. We feel that at this point these flashpoints are best addressed by local EMS leadership and their collaborators. State NAEMSP Chapters are a strong rallying point for this. We continue to monitor for evidence of national trends.

NAEMSP Remains Positive
As we speak of state Chapters, the clouds lift and rays of sunshine beam forth; State Chapters represent a maturation of the Association, providing opportunities for building NAEMSP through bidirectional flow of ideas and programs. Joseph Zalkin is doing yeoman’s duty as a mentor for chapter formation and development, and we are filling in the national map with states that have NAEMSP Chapters. We currently have 31 Chapters, with one additional state submitting and discussions of multistate “blocs” for less populated areas. The activities undertaken within the Chapters are quite varied, as would be imagined, however it is my expectation that the Chapters will be a natural home for our “in-person” Foundations of Medical Oversight” course in which vetted local leaders will be able to present the course to introduce local medical directors within their state to the practice of EMS. I also see the Chapters as a natural fit for local Resuscitation Academies under the tutelage of our partners at the Seattle Resuscitation Academy. Stay tuned!
 
Another new focus is to expand and improve the Association’s provision of access to tools to address the wellness of our ourselves and our clinicians. We are working on an initiative that will be housed within the membership committee.  Those of you with interest in this space, please reach out to Steven Zils through the membership committee or contact the Executive Office.

My sincere hope is that the metaphor of sunnier days ahead finds the sun shining into your world as well.  I’m sure we all have cautious optimism that perhaps we are at a point at which the pandemic becomes a treatable chronic disease, always a threat but not the sole focus of our day-to-day lives. Here’s hoping to mostly unencumbered (yet safe!) travel and a return to journals that have a balance of content that does not reference a single corona virus variant or its effects on our practice. Please send me a note if you have thoughts of what I can do for you or NAEMSP. I’m looking forward to the next time we meet.
 
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Michael Levy, MD, FAEMS
 

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