EMS leader, Jerry Overton, is planning a cross-country move to take on his new position as chief executive officer of Road Safety International Inc. This move will be quite literal, both when he relocates from Richmond, Va., to Thousand Oaks, Calif., and as he transitions out of his position as a regional leader in Richmond and assumes the role as the head of an international company.
When we heard the news, we got a few minutes with Overton, a JEMS editorial board member, to get his thoughts on this big change.
"It was a difficult decision because I love the Richmond Ambulance Authority, and I love Richmond," Overton said. "It's an opportunity for me to be very involved in EMS, but in a different way, in support of EMTs and paramedics. It's an opportunity for me to personally be able to transition from being a local official to serving an international company."
As Chief Executive Officer of the Richmond Ambulance Authority, Overton has definitely been a leader in the city's EMS system, and the city has benefitted with Overton at the helm for 18 years. He sees his legacy there as one of accomplishment and advancement, with the implementation of such successful programs as the nurse line that decreased the demand on EMS and the addition of the AutoPulse, a CPR device that contributed to a 300% increase in Richmond's positive cardiac arrest outcomes.
"We were able to continue to try new innovations, do new things, be on the cutting edge," he said. "I was only able to do that with an incredibly supportive staff of paramedics and EMTs."
And although he's going to miss being in Richmond, this is a transition Overton is excited about. It's a transition Road Safety President Larry Selditz is also excited to see take place. In fact, it was Selditz and Road Safety that pursued Overton, a longtime Road Safety customer and user.
"I'm so excited about this because I think it's a time for Jerry where he's accomplished so much in his career. He's known worldwide and highly respected," Selditz said. He thinks this will be the first time a technology company like Road Safety will be led by an EMS leader. And that's exactly why he thinks Overton will be able to bring new technology and safety into the EMS industry -- because Overton has been a customer and a user and is familiar with EMS safety issues and needs.
"For the first time, safety isn't a dirty word. Now, finally the culture is beginning to change," Selditz said. One way he expects Overton to facilitate this change is by helping to bring EMS up to the capability of the technology that already exists. He says Road Safety is integrating the platforms that make up a driver-safety program -- such as the "black box," video and GPS--so they can communicate all their information in real-time to the appropriate individual or location where it can be analyzed. "Jerry certainly has the capability to understand how those technologies can benefit agencies."
JEMS agrees with Selditz and believes Overton will continue to lead the EMS industry and be a positive influence in increasing the safety of emergency providers, patients and the public.