Administration and Leadership, News, Patient Care

Dr. Bill Jermyn Was a Friend of EMS

Dr. Bill Jermyn, who died in Jefferson City, Mo. on May 15, 2008, was a great friend of EMS and specifically of physician medical directors. At the time of his death he was the director of Emergency Medical Services for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and was working with others to improve the EMS system in Missouri.

Bill was an emergency physician for 33 years. He was also a member of the emergency medicine faculty at the University of Missouri in Columbia and at Barnes Hospital, Washington University, in St. Louis.

He had recently chaired the EMS Section of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) as well as ACEP’s EMS Committee. Dr. Jermyn was past president of the Missouri Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians and had been re-elected to their Board of Directors.

At the time of his death, he was beginning his third term as ACEP representative to the Board of Directors for the Commission on Accreditation for Ambulance Services (CAAS), having led the 2004 standards revision project. He also co-chaired the National Association of Emergency Medical Service Physicians/American College of Emergency Physicians Task Force for Out of Hospital Specialty Board Certification.In addition, Bill served in many other key roles for ACEP through the years

He served as the chair of the Missouri State Advisory Council on EMS, was a member of the EMS Gathering of Eagles coalition, American Medical Association, National Association of Emergency Medical Service Physicians, Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons, and the Missouri EMS Association.

More important than all of Bill’s numerous accomplishments, many of which are not included here, was his friendship and mentorship. In the autumn of 2007, Bill came to Colorado Springs to make a presentation about CAAS to our county’s EMS oversight body. I had the privilege to pick him up at the airport and shuttle him around town to his various responsibilities during his visit.

Although I certainly knew of Bill by reputation before his visit, I had not had a chance to really get to know him. However, I did get the opportunity on that visit. Bill was very interested in getting to know as many people as he could on that visit. He wanted to learn as much as possible about our crews and how EMS worked in Colorado Springs. To everyone he met, he was just a down-to-earth guy.

During that period of 2007, we were having some difficult times in our EMS world, politically speaking. Bill wanted to know all about the situation. After listening about the problem, he gave me excellent advice based on his many years of experience in EMS medical direction.

Bill’s visit and counsel were “just what the doctor ordered” for me, and it truly helped me positively move forward. After that visit, we stayed in touch via e-mail and phone for a time.

Then I didn’t hear from him for awhile. Finally, about three months ago, I got a lengthy email from Bill outlining the development of very critical health issues that had resulted in a long hospitalization. Unbeknownst to me, some of the early symptoms may have begun on his Colorado Springs trip.

In any event Bill, in his characteristic good humor and boundless optimism, thought he had turned the corner. He was feeling better and had returned to work. Unfortunately, he apparently had complications.

News of Bill’s death came while many emergency physicians (including me) were attending an ACEP conference in Washington DC. Having heard the many testimonials from top ACEP leaders at this conference about Bill, I know how much he was valued by the medical profession, EMS medical directors — and me personally.

However, the average EMS provider in the street probably never heard of Bill Jermyn. But, whether you knew Bill or not, he was your friend too. Any friend of EMS was a friend of his. I thank Bill’s family for sharing Bill with us.