30 Years of Leadership: Impact of JEMS on EMS development


 
 

A.J. Heightman, MPA, EMT-P | From the March 2010 Issue | Tuesday, March 16, 2010


This month, as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of JEMS, I have the honor of sharing some important thoughts with you. I never dreamed back in 1980 that, 30 years later, I'd still be involved in one of the most exciting and rewarding occupations in the worldƒthe delivery of critically needed emergency care to vulnerable individuals in the unpredictable out-of-hospital environmentƒlet alone helping to nurture and report on its development.

For me, the journey through EMS history has been a wonderful ride. My career has evolved from tagging along with my dad and his partner in a beautiful Cadillac ambulance at the ripe old age of 10, to being entrusted in to lead a regional EMS "experiment" in 1975 at 21.

Then, after 20 years of EMS administration and operations, I was asked to move to California by Jim Page, a brilliant and magical, compassionate yet demanding, inspirational and controversial mentor, to take the helm of JEMS, the flagship of EMS journalism.

I cut my EMS teeth reading and learning from the pages of JEMS, and I worked hard to implement many of the concepts introduced, analyzed and validated by Jim, founding editor Keith Griffiths and other high-energy members of the JEMS staff.

Before working at JEMS, I viewed the staff in a somewhat mythical light because they appeared to be fearless warriors, taking on some of most powerful organizations, politicians, government officials and individuals in the medical community to ensure that politics, prejudices and profit did not impede EMS development.

In the early _80s, JEMS introduced me to industry experts and EMS leaders I didn't know, but soon trusted with the lives of my patientsƒand my career. Such leaders as Ronald Stewart, David Boyd, Peter Safar, Paul Pepe, J. Michael Criley, Gene Nagel, Leonard Cobb, Walter Graf, Marvin Wayne, Mickey Eisenberg, Bill Koenig, Drew Dawson, Norman McSwain, C.J. Shanaberger, Walt Stoy, Jerry Overton, Thom Dick, Michael Frank, Jay Fitch, Jeff Clawson, Jack Stout, Paul Paris, Frank Poliafico, Mike Taigman, Scott and Marilyn Bourn, Jim and Kate Dernocoeur, became my trusted advisers.

These clinicians and leaders inspired me to work hard to develop an effective EMS system in my little corner of the world. It was comforting to know I could trust the experience and research they presented. I waited for my copy to arrive every month, often marking pages with paperclips in the days before sticky notes.

The integrity, devotion and dedication of Jim Page and his carefully chosen authors and editorial staff made me feel confident that the facts, research and references presented in the journal could be medically and ethically validated.

The journal soon became a key tool in my EMS management toolbox. I remember walking into an important meeting with Bethlehem, Pa., city council members, armed with statistics from JEMS, confident they'd assist me in getting ALS equipment, which had been provided to the city by physicians and a citizen's group but locked in a closet by city administrators, put to use by paramedics who had obtained ALS certifications on their own time.

During my presentation, one poorly informed city councilman tried to chastise me by confidently reporting that his "brother-in-law's heart stopped while he slept in a chair and nothing could have saved him, including Âexpensive_ paramedics."

It was very theatrical, but ineffective because my facts were solid, and I wove them into my presentation by addressing the death of his brother-in-law. I told him and his experienced colleagues that, in a similar situation in neighboring Allentown, Pa., a man was "rudely awoken" from his "sleep of death" by defibrillations from well-trained and equipped paramedics that cost more in annual payroll, but yielded Allentown nearly double in ALS reimbursements.

After reviewing all my validated facts and figures, the Bethlehem city council members were convinced (including the naysayer councilman) and voted unanimously to advance their service from BLS to ALS. Jim Page later praised the accomplishment in an article entitled "The Battle of Bethlehem," giving me way too much credit. It was really the statistics and references provided by JEMS that secured the victory.

From its inception in March 1980, JEMS has been a strong voice and advocate for the EMS industryƒand the patients we serve. Its mission has always been to present quality, factual, timely, clinically sound information, as well as take on important issues and point out areas that needed correction or improvementƒsomething often unpopular with individuals, administrators, manufacturers, organizations and politicians.

Jim Page and Keith Griffiths addressed their intent for the journal right out of the gate, featuring all other competing magazines on the inaugural cover of JEMS and challenging them all to stay focused and address the issues head on. This attitude and mission statement earned JEMS recognition by the National Association of EMTs as the "Conscience of EMS."

But the most important contribution I feel JEMS has made to the EMS industry is its ability to be ahead of the curve. JEMS has always been the leader in introducing new concepts and presenting innovations and clinical advances that were developingƒor needed to be developedƒto improve the level of care being offered.

I've included 60 feature articles in this 30th anniversary editor's page that I selected to illustrate how forward-thinking JEMS was during the first two decades of my administrative career. These articles helped me set EMS system goals and objectives and improve the quality of care and services rendered in my region. (Copies of these articles are featured on jems.com/extras and can be easily downloaded).

It was an honor to be tapped by Jim Page to become a part of this wonderful EMS media machine after spending 30 years as a field provider and EMS administrator. Thank you for becoming—and remaining—a loyal reader of the JEMS team. JEMS

 




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Related Topics: Administration and Leadership, Leadership and Professionalism, Walter Graf, Walt Stoy, Thom Dick, The Battle of Bethlehem, Scott Bourn, Ronald Stewart, Peter Safar, Paul Pepe, Paul Paris, Norman McSwain, Mike Taigman, Mickey Eisenberg, Michael Frank, Marvin Wayne, Marilyn Bourn, Leonard Cobb, Keith Griffiths, Kate Dernocoeur, Jim Page, Jim Dernocoeur, Jerry Overton, JEMS 30th anniversary, Jeff Clawson, Jay Fitch, James O. Page, Jack Stout, J. Michael Criley, Gene Nagel, Frank Poliafico, Drew Dawson, David Boyd, C.J. Shanaberger, Bill Koenig, A.J. Heightman, Jems From the Editor

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A.J. Heightman, MPA, EMT-P

JEMS Editor-in-Chief A.J. Heightman, MPA, EMT-P, has a background as an EMS director and EMS operations director. He specializes in MCI management.

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