EMS Today After Action Report

After last Tuesday’s round of recoil therapy and ballistic mood enhancers, TOTWTYTR and I ventured south Wednesday morning to Baltimore, site of EMS Last Week Today.

[Editor’s nip at the hand that feeds me: JEMS, you do a great job at this conference. The exhibit hall is great, the show is well-organized, with nationally known speakers presenting interesting topics, and for the attendee who gets to attend but one show every few years, it has excellent educational value…

… but, for the attendee who comes to EMS Today every year, or the ones who attend multiple EMS conferences per year, it’s getting a little, well, stale. For the past several years, I’ve perused the list of speakers and topics, and with the exception of a small handful of slots, my overwhelming reaction has been, “Meh. Seen that speaker/topic/presentation before. Even the slides look recycled.”

It’s not the speakers that are the problem, either, although you do need some new blood. I’ve seen most of them speak multiple times, and they’re all good. But they’ve got better stuff than the topics you’re choosing. I’ve seen their good stuff before, just rarely at EMS Today.

My suggestion: court a little controversy. Book some speakers nobody has ever heard of. Choose some topics that haven’t been discussed and debated ad infinitum in various other forums already. Sure, you risk offending some of your attendees, but trying to concoct a dish that pleases everyone’s palate ultimately only makes for a dish that is so bland that it pleases no one. It’s the EMS educational equivalent of hospital food.]

Aside from my (admittedly) jaded view of the educational content, I was really looking forward to taking advantage of the real value of EMS Today: meeting people and networking. On that score I was not disappointed.

Once again, TOTWTYTR and I enjoyed the hospitality of a genuine EMS legend, Lou Jordan. Lou’s a lovable old coot with an abiding hatred of skateboarders (he blows the Claymores at the first sight of baggy pants and backwards-facing ball caps), but walking the exhibit hall with him takes hours:

[Walk ten feet]

Lou: “Hey guys, let me introduce you to So-And-So! He was the lead instructor in Jesus’ First Responder class! Taught it from the original Nancy Caroline text, written on papyrus leaves!”

So-And-So (modestly): “I just issued his patch. Jesus had the whole healing thing down pat before he even got to class.”

[Thirty minutes later, walk ten more feet]

Lou: “Hey look, it’s Sumguy, the fella that thought up rotating tourniquets!”

Sumguy (modestly): Well, I owe a lot of that to you, Lou. You’re the one that convinced me leeches were so 19th century…”

Lou’s a walking, talking EMS history lesson, no doubt, and there’s nothing better than drinking beer and listening to Lou and guys like Rick Kendrick swap stories (for you EMS whippersnappers who don’t know who Rick Kendrick is, I’m pretty sure you’ve used a device he invented).

However, I was looking forward to meeting a few EMTs from a more recent generation. Despite being the owner of arguably the biggest online EMS bookstore on the web, Lou is a bit of a Luddite. He still does his personal computing on an abacus, fer Chrissakes, and he’s never quite grasped this whole “blogging thing,” as he calls it.

So we ventured forth onto the exhibit hall floor in search of a couple of guys who, in recent weeks, have demonstrated the power and potential of social media in EMS. Way over by the Zoll booth, tucked into a little cubbyhole were Justin Schorr and Mark Glencorse, the two stars of the Chronicles of EMS.

I was disappointed, frankly. If Patrick Swayze weren’t dead, he’d definitely tell the folks at Zoll that nobody puts Baby Justin and Mark in a corner. But the young lady from Zoll was much cuter than Jerry Orbach, so I let it pass.

This time.

They didn’t seem to mind, though. Justin was busy autographing the boobs of some groupie, and Mark was fielding a call from A.J. Heightman, but eventually I was able to tear Justin’s attention from the boobage, and Mark told A.J.’s people to call his people and perhaps they’d do lunch, and I introduced myself and TOTWTYTR to the Johnny and Roy of the Twitter generation. Justin introduced me to Ted Setla, the man behind the filming of Chronicles of EMS.

Hands were shaken, manly hugs ensued, and much unseemly fawning was done. Sure, Mark Glencorse is an uncommonly charming and ruggedly handsome bloke, but from my buddy’s reaction, you’d have thought Glencorse was the fifth Beatle and TOTWTYTR was a pre-pubescent girl.

Honestly, I had to pry him away before he vapor locked on me, and thus I was unable to let Justin finish signing my boobs.

Disappointing, that.

As we talked, I was struck by how much shorter Justin seemed to be in person, but eventually I realized that was only because I was standing on a small, hobbit-like creature that turned out to be Chris Montera. He brushed off my apology, said something about some podcast thing or another he was doing, and scurried away.

Nice guy, that Chris Montera, even if he hasn’t invited me to be on his show (hint, hint).

While we were moseying about the exhibit hall, we met a few other luminaries of the JEMS EMS/Fire blog network, like John Mitchell and Rhett Fleitz, co-hosts of the Firefighter Netcast. And yes, they do remind one of Chris Farley and David Spade. And they dig at each other like an old married couple, too.

Got to reunite with Mike Ward the Fossil Medic, the man I suspect is largely responsible for the wonderful reception paid us bloggers by JEMS and George Washington University, and met Jamie “Podmedic” Davis from MedicCast. Jamie and Chris did a podcast live from the exhibit hall floor, and Dave Konig was a guest.

Got to hug a tall, smokin’ hawt redhead, namely Epi Junky from Pink, Warm and Dry, and chat with Chris Kaiser from Life Under The Lights, who is neither as tall nor nearly as hawt as Epi Junky, but still a redhead. Friday night at the big blogger meetup, I introduced Chris to Rick Kendrick, and watched him go all fanboi for a few minutes.

Which wasn’t as embarassing as watching TOTWTYTR throw his panties at Dave Statter, but close. In what may be the first such instance in recorded history, someone else scooped Dave Statter on an EMS or fire story. A couple of bloggers managed to get up their posts about the blogger meetup before Dave did.

Enjoy the feeling, guys. It won’t happen often.

Got to meet and talk for quite some time with a guy I’ve been a fan of for years, the EKG Yoda himself, Tom Bouthillet of Prehospital 12-Lead EKG. Chatted at length with Rogue Medic, the Don Quixote of the EMS blogosphere. Shared a great meal with shooter, raconteur and one of the truly good guys of the blogosphere, Old NFO.

Reconnected with a number of friends and met some new ones, among them Bryan Bledsoe, reader Stephanie Goddard, James Laidlaw, EMS1 editor Kris Kaull, Ronnie Grubb of First Due Medic and his lovely wife, NJDivemedic, reader Jared, Nate the EMT-B, and probably a couple dozen others I’m forgetting.

Since I had to fly home Saturday morning, TOTWTYTR and I decided to forego the post-blogger meetup pub crawl, but I’m told it was epic. No one got their Edgar Allan Poe on, and a good time was had by all.

In all, it was a great time, and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting in person some of the people whose blogs I read on a daily basis. Hopefully, we’ll do it all again at EMS Expo in October!