It’s Great to Be Back: Attendee Comes Back After Several Years


The EMS Today organizers at PennWell/JEMS cordially invited me to come to the 2018 conference and simply re-immerse myself in the world of this iconic conference and exposition. Not since 2003 had I been to an EMS Today conference. That’s 15 years!

Clearly, a lot has evolved in that time, while much has also stayed the same. The giants of the early days of modern EMS are graying, maybe a little paunchy, maybe not quite as spry. But I was thrilled to see that so many of them are still present. It moved me deeply to witness University of Pittsburgh’s Walt Stoy honored with the James O. Page/JEMS Leadership Award. Jim Page was an old friend of mine, and this award is a huge honor. Onstage with Walt were longtime friends to Walt, and also to me: AJ Heightman, Baxter Larmon, Ron Stewart. Presenting the award was another old friend, Gary Williams, now owner of Hartwell Medical. Has it really been only four decades since all of us were embarking as youthful adventurers on this pathway known as EMS? A few minutes later, my old editor (and co-founder of JEMS) Keith Griffiths was onstage welcoming the winner of this year’s Nicholas Rosecrans Award honoring leadership in injury prevention by EMS personnel. I met the winner, Mike Filson from Chula Vista (CA), later and he well-represents the current best-practices kinda guy we can all respect.

I bumped into old friends all over the place, too many to name, but you know who you are. That’s what happens when you’ve been missing for fifteen years, I guess. Being in Charlotte was very gratifying, because I rediscovered all over again the way we can all be bolstered by a national network of like-minded people who get together and re-boot once a year like this. We have come a long way. We have made a difference.

I also looked around and saw many fresh, new (and yes, young) faces, both in the audiences and on the podiums. This is the connective tissue of our world, the ability to find common ground and work through how to pass the baton, how to move forward, how to preserve that which is relevant while introducing that which is innovative. That’s the power underlying a conference such as EMS Today. When more than 4,000 people from dozens of countries put their heads together, we will find solutions to our various clinical, administrative, management, governmental, and leadership issues. 

Which leads my thoughts to the delightful, lingering memory of what was happening in the exhibit hall. Again, so much was familiar. Who doesn’t love Dr. Sam, of SAM Splints? Or the on-going presence of so many industry giants, manufacturers, suppliers, inventors in all of the product categories. Being in that huge hall sometimes felt a little overwhelming, until I rounded a corner and found safe haven chatting with someone—familiar or not—who has a role to play in what it is we all do. What was new, after 15 years, was the abundance of electronic/internet things for CE, tracking wellness, doing electronic patient reporting, and so much more. 

I liked a lot about the 2018 EMS Today. The organizers have listened and responded to ideas for improvement. The pacing was good, and the fun was well-linked with the business at hand. Educational sessions were interesting, and it was fun to compare notes with people, old and young, EMS veteran and not (yet), from hither and yon. It was a far, far cry from my first appearance at this iconic conference back in 1985! And a welcome reunion. I hope and trust others felt the same way.  

EMS Today 2019

Interested in attending EMS Today in National Habor, MD on February 20-22, 2019? Learn more about our conference, exhibition hall, networking opportunities, JEMS Games, the Hands-On Experience and more.

Never attended EMS Today and want to attend the event for FREE? Apply for our Scholarship and receive a complimentary full conference registration (open to first-time attendees only).