My experience with the JEMS Games goes back to the beginning—the first ever games held in Salt Lake City back in 2004. I was lucky to be part of a team of four Australian paramedics who won the first ever event. It was an experience and a feeling that was, at the time and even today, still hard to beat.
Since that fateful day way back then, I’ve been involved in the JEMS Games in one form or another, and the one thing that still comes through every year is the way in which our profession and approach to providing the best pre-hospital patient care has continued to change—not only in medical advancements, but also the deeply held commitment of the courageous EMTs and paramedics who put their abilities, knowledge and skills on display in front of their peers. It leaves me feeling amazed every time I see these teams compete, and what they take away is priceless. It finds its way into each patient contact they have. I leave convinced that our profession is in a good place and in good hands going forward.
After hanging up my competition boots a few years ago, I took what I learned from the JEMS Games and partnered with Ferno Australia and Team Australia EMS to create a similar event in Australia: FernoSim Paramedic Simulation Challenge. FernoSim has been held since 2014, not only for qualified paramedics, but we have a separate event for student paramedics that's proved extremely popular and continues to gain in popularity.
The ability to be involved in the JEMS Games, not only as a competitor but also as a judge, is an experience that everyone should undertake—it takes you outside of your comfort zone and challenges you to use all of your skills and experience to evaluate what’s happening in front of you. To experience it from both sides of the fence, as a competitor and also as a judge, is a truly humbling experience. My involvement in the JEMS Games has enabled me to perfect the skills required to plan, manage and deliver a clinical competition with real-world scenarios that are both educational and challenging.
The work that goes into putting on the JEMS Games is remarkable, to say the least, and the attention to detail should never be underestimated. Luckily, the support we receive from industry-leading organizations and sponsors is remarkable.
People ask me why I fly halfway around the world and volunteer my time—it’s a 14-hour-plus flight which would shock some people and it can be a struggle—but it’s worth it. The connections and lifelong friendships you make from volunteering at the JEMS Games is well worth the trip, and the experience you get from being around enthusiastic, like-minded colleagues is priceless. (Plus, we don’t have Wal-Mart in Australia).
Volunteering at the JEMS Games has also enabled me to attend EMS Today: The JEMS Conference and Exposition. From cutting-edge workshops to keynote speakers and sessions from relevant industry leaders and experts, the conference covers all aspects of EMS, which is nothing short of remarkable. The exhibit area is amazing and has everything you could every want or dream of when it comes to the latest and greatest in the field of prehospital emergency response and patient care. Having the ability to see and touch the newest innovations before they are rolled out across your service or department is a unique experience.
If I could use only one word to describe my experience of volunteering and being involved in the JEMS Games and attending EMS Today, that word would be “amazing.” I’ve been extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to be part of this outstanding event and can’t recommend it enough to those who are thinking about being involved, whether it’s volunteering at the JEMS Games or just as a conference attendee—it’s well worth your time and an experience that you will never forget.