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Pod-sibilities: Taking advantage of online EMS resources

I remember the first time I heard sound come from a computer. I don_t know what word to use to describe it other than "computerish." If you don_t know what I_m talking about, watch the 1983 movieWar Gamesstarring Matthew Broderick. In the film, the same type of sound comes from the computer.

Now, 25 years later, digital sounds are phenomenal. Just listen to a Bose system hooked to a television playing a Blu-ray DVD or go to a movie theater with Dolby surround sound. And the sounds go beyond music and movies. Not only can you use a computer to play a movie or stream music, you can access podcasts and webcasts.

Internet for EMS

The best part is that if I_m in the mood to broaden my knowledge as a prehospital professional, there are plenty of EMS-specific broadcasts to choose from. There_s not a week that goes by when I don_t listen to at least one webcast or podcast related to EMS or fire.„

Before I continue, let_s clarify the terms floating around here. Webcasts incorporate sound and visual elements and can either be distributed live over the Internet, or you can access a pre-recorded episode. Some people call these "webinars"; they_re essentially the same except webinar tends to imply an educational element.

Podcasts are audio-only files that have been pre-recorded and placed on a Web site for direct downloading and listening. What_s unique to a podcast is that special client software, such as iTunes, can automatically recognize files and play them on a portable media player, such as an iPod or a personal computer. And iTunes will even send you the latest files if you_re registered. All you need to do is subscribe to a podcast series, and episodes will be automatically downloaded and refreshed on your device.„

The great thing is that you can take advantage of these online resources from the comfort of your desk. Some of these resources are even free! JEMS offers free webcasts on various clinical and operations topics and keeps the archives available for six months (www.jems.com/webcasts). „

The EMS section for the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) also does a monthly podcast. The first podcast featured EMS author and educator Dr. Bryan Bledsoe and Randy Mantooth, who played Johnny Gage on the 1970s television show Emergency!. They discussed the new National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1584 standard on rehabilitation and medical monitoring of firefighters during operations. Another podcast produced by the EMS section includes leadership of the Washington, D.C., Fire & EMS DepartmentƒChief Dennis Rubin, Chief Billy Hayes and Dr. James Augustineƒdiscussing the Metro rail train disaster that happened in June.

Access IAFC podcasts atwww.IAFCems.org.The IAFC also operates IAFC-TV (www.IAFCTV.org), where you can find broadcasts related to the EMS/ fire community.„

Another Web site with EMS podcasts iswww.yourstudioa.com.The Web site indicates it was "formed as a vehicle in which educational material is delivered to EMS professionals by interesting and entertaining means." Studio-A is affiliated with the National EMS Academy Pillar II staff at the Acadian Ambulance Service.

EMSGarage.comandEMSleadership.comare two other excellent resources.EMSGarage.compodcasts are more general EMS topic discussions among a variety of individuals, while EMSleadership.com tends to focus on leadership topics affecting EMS managers.„

There are many other Internet resources out there. Do an online search and see which broadcasts best fit your educational needs.„

Hear Me Out

Some people I_ve talked with download podcasts to their iPod or some other portable media player and listen to them while walking, running on a treadmill or driving. Personally, I like to listen to online EMS broadcasts while sitting at my desk and working. That way I_m multitaskingƒworking while getting continuing education.

Being an effective EMS manager is about staying on top of the latest trends and developments in the profession, while finding ways to widen your skills. You can accomplish this through talking to colleagues, attending conferences and reading journalsƒbut I strongly recommend you take advantage of this new technology too. JEMS

Gary Ludwig,MS, EMT-P, is a deputy fire chief with the Memphis (Tenn.) Fire Department. He has 30 years of fire and rescue experience. He_s chair of the EMS Section for the International Association of Fire Chiefs and can be reached atwww.garyludwig.com.

Learn more from Gary Ludwig at the EMS Today Conference & Expo, March 2Ï6 in Baltimore.

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