The Future of EMS Education

EMS continuing education has been changed forever over the course of the last year.  At UConn John Dempsey Hospital where I am the EMS coordinator, we hold EMS CMES monthly.  For years we held them in person.  Over the years we bounced around from venue to the next dealing with issues like parking (for attendees and for those on duty who needed access to their emergency vehicles when calls came in), adequate space, ability to eat and drink during the CME, noise from renovations, unpredictable computer equipment, and conflicts with other conferences, not to mention winter weather storms.  We were never able to find the right combination that met everyone’s needs.  On a good day we would get 50 people.

Then COVID came around and we were forced to go virtual using WEbex.  In no time at all, we had 100 attendees, better availability of speakers who can now teach from their works or home desks, reliable and readable PowerPoints, no parking issues, people able to attend who never could before.  For instance, every month we have Dr. David Banach, who I call Connecticut’s Faucci, our infectious disease doctor, call in and answer our responders’ questions about COVID.  It’s been great. 

And then along came Refresh2021, the free online on demand national refresher.  I finished it this week.  Thirty hours of education, most of it of the highest quality from many of the top EMS educators in the country, people you normally have to travel to a national conference to hear, people like Paul Pepe and Corey Slovis, who I have seen before and greatly admire.  The program was put together by Tom Bouthillett, who was the man behind the EMS 12-lead blog, who does a great job clearly explaining cardiac care.

I learned new things during this refresher.  I’ve been in EMS for 32 years and a medic for 27, but there is always stuff I don’t know.  Some of it is stuff I have forgotten, but much of it is new.  Props to all the instructors and most of all to Tom for organizing this.  What a great gift to all of us in EMS during this most difficult year.

If you haven’t taken the class, I encourage you to sign up before March 31 when the I believe the course will no longer be available.  Even if you don’t plan of watching all 30 hours, there are many fine lectures to pick from.

My favorite lecture was Rommie Duckworth’s  Immunological Emergencies, which centered on Anaphylaxis.  I like it not because he taught me anything new, but because he taught so well and so clearly something that we teach over and over – the need for EMS not to hesitate or be afraid of giving epinephrine and how life saving it is in anaphylaxis. 

Other lectures that I thought were home runs were Peter Antevy Pediatric cardiac Arrest, Tom Bouthilllet’s Acute Coronary Syndrome, Kenneth A Scheppke, Neurological Emergencies, and Douglas Kupas, Ambulance Safety.  There were many more that were great, but these ones were particularly so.

I am going to rewatch many of them before their availability ends.

I will be interested to see what comes next.  I can see our hospital possibly putting together lectures to be required for all our sponsored medics on topics of local importance.  I can also see a group of educators/hospitals here in Connecticut putting together programs for Connecticut responders.  Most of all, I am interested to see what Tom and his friends have for a second act on the national stage.