What in the world is EMStock? This has been a common question of late. Many people have seen the ads on JEMS.com and inJEMSwith an armadillo playing a guitar. Is it a joke? What is EMStock? Perhaps I can explain.
Several years ago several of us old EMS types were lamenting the lack of fellowship in EMS. You certainly see camaraderie in fire departments and anesprit de corps in law enforcement -- but not much in EMS. It primarily results from our lack of identity. Are we health care? Are we public safety? Hell, we don't know and neither does the public. As the discussion waned into the night, the idea of an EMS get together seemed like a great idea. Initially, we were just interested in Texas. Soon, it became a national event. Now, it's international.
Thus, EMStock was born. The name was stolen from the legendary 1969 Woodstock Festival & Concert held in upstate New York. We even wanted to use the guitar and dove logo. However, staying true to our Texas roots, we opted for a hip armadillo. The armadillo has been the EMStock logo since the event's inception. We had no money. So we held it on my ranch in north Texas. The rules were simple and straightforward -- check your egos and certifications at the gate. For, at EMStock, all are equal. I believe such an environment must exist for an open and productive dialog.
We held the first EMStock in October 2003. Even though it was unseasonably cool that year for Texas, turnout was less than expected. However, we persevered and rescheduled it in May to correspond with EMS week. The second year, things really improved. A good friend from my EMS days was doing professional pyrotechnics. He put on the same show that had been done the week before at a NASCAR event (I had to pay a local kid $50 to haul all the detonated cartridges away). He also introduced us to a guy who provided (and continues to provide) a professional sound systems and lighting.
We had more attendees the second year and booked bands for the evenings. We also added a Texas Chili Cook-Off, which gave more character to the event. We offered some free continuing education (CE) and T-shirts. Our plans were starting to work. People moved from campfire to campfire, joining in multiple conversations. After the second year, several corporate sponsors signed up. EMStock was off and running.
Attendance grew the next two years, and we were able to get better-known bands. Noted country singer and composer Steven Fromholz joined Texas native Mike Blakely for an evening of songs and entertainment. The following year, we were lucky to have fellow Texan and gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman here (along with a film crew from Country Music TV). Kinky was well received. However, it was more than 100 degrees in late May, and we were miserable. In 2006, hurricanes Katrina and Rita came, and many of our assets went to the Gulf coast. EMStock was postponed.
Now, EMStock is back. We moved the date to early fall so we could have better weather (cooler) and the event would not interfere with high school or college graduations. Many are excited about EMStock 2008 Pre-registrations are up markedly, and we have registrants from at least 15 states and the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Mexico.
We'll be providing more than 20 hours of accredited CE, delivered by many of the top EMS educators in the world. They've volunteered their time and travel to make EMStock a success. In addition to CE, we'll have a Texas Chili cook-off (no beans in Texas chili) and a barbecue cook-off. Each evening, we'll have various entertainment events, including entertaining educational sessions such as "A Jew and a Redneck" featuring Gary Saffer of Boston EMS and Kelly Grayson of Acadian EMS. I'll let you figure who is the Jew and who is the redneck. Yours truly will give a riveting presentation on "An EMS Provider's Guide to Southern Medical Terminology."
Friday's performance will be from a country band featuring a Texas paramedic. On Saturday, Texas' Poet Laureate, singer, songwriter and legend Steven Fromholz will be on hand to mingle, perform and judge chili and barbecue. Steven, who has written many songs, was an early member of Crosby, Stills and Nash. Later that evening, Scott Walker and the Edge of Texas, another Texas band featuring a Texas paramedic, will perform. Dancing -- during the bands and between sets of rock, Tejano and country -- will keep everybody on their feet.
The estate has rolling hills and some trees. RV and primitive camping are available on-site. There are no electricity or water hookups. Heated showers are available, as well as toilet facilities. A vendor will be selling food, and chili and barbecue will be readily available on Saturday evening. A large exhibitors' tent will showcase the latest and greatest in EMS. If you don't want to camp, several hotels are nearby. Also nearby is shopping and restaurants -- although no Neiman Marcus. The Midlothian-Waxahachie Airport (Midway) is 1 mile south. Helicopters can land in the designated landing zone (LZ) on the estate. Visit the Web sitehttp://www.emstock.com for details. If attending, please pre-register on the Web site so we can be adequately prepared.
Don't miss the EMStock auction. This year you can get such items as a Masimo Rad-57 (CO-Oximeter) donated by Masimo, a Phillips AED (donated by Southeastern Emergency Equipment) and 2 Reel Splints (donated by Reel Research). We'll be giving away literally thousands of dollars in door prizes including a Reel-Splint, and books from Brady and Jones and Bartlett.
EMStock is like no other EMS event. It's a money-losing, loose-knit (if not completely unraveled) meeting of EMS people from around the world. Discussions and meetings are everywhere. All are equal, because we're checking egos, degrees and certifications at the gate. It's a relaxing and fun time. The educational sessions are informal (although we strictly enforce CECBEMS and Texas Department of State Health Services rules). The instructors are approachable. The evening often ends by the pool, with cigars in hand. It's where the issues of EMS and the world are solved -- if for only one night.
If your calendar is still open for the last weekend in September, consider taking a plane or car to Midlothian, Texas (south of Dallas/Fort Worth) and experience EMS education, entertainment, fellowship, product awareness and down-home Texas hospitality. If you missed Woodstock in 1969, don't make the same mistake twice and miss EMStock in 2008.
For a list of sponsors and more information on EMStock 2008,click here.