Administration and Leadership

EMS10: Innovators of 2014

Issue 3 and Volume 40.

Welcome to the seventh annual EMS 10 Innovators in EMS program. This special supplement, sponsored by Physio-Control and JEMS and available at jems.com/ems10, will introduce you to some of the brightest, most innovative people working in EMS today.

A panel of professional EMS colleagues and peers selected the distinguished winners, who are highlighted in this year’s issue. Each winner, nominated by an individual or organization, was chosen for his or her initiative, creative thinking, action-orientation, and desire to positively impact EMS, patients and their communities.

The need for qualified and creative prehospital providers has never been greater. As you read these profiles, you’ll be introduced to these outstanding winners who are taking today’s technology and systems and employing them in ways that are having a maximum impact on their patients and colleagues. You’ll also hear their personal and professional stories of hardship, determination and, ultimately, success in their quest to do right by the patients who depend on them every day.

This group of winners have considered the challenges currently facing first responders and taken the action necessary to find and implement a solution. Their dedication and willingness to think outside the box have resulted in the introduction of some of the most creative and transformative products and services seen by the industry. Their vision and determination is changing the landscape of how prehospital care is administered and perceived, by those inside and outside the prehospital community.

Each of the profiles of these individuals highlights the tremendous inroads these professionals are making in altering the minds and methods of those patients and colleagues they see and work with every day. You’ll see the passion, care and concern they have for the EMS industry and the drive they exhibit in trying to make it more patient-centered and success-based.

This distinguished group of men and women has looked at the many factors affecting EMS and patient care and has turned the equation around. Not only has this alternative way of thinking resulted in new perspectives, but has saved thousands of lives. They’ve persevered through numerous obstacles, refusing to give up on what they knew could be a better approach. In the end, each of these professionals has moved EMS a little bit closer to being the very best it can be. We’re all the richer for their contributions and each has grown personally and professionally because of it.

You’ll read about William Lang, BA, EMT-P, who faced a near career-ending event that changed his life forever. Ultimately, he used the event to develop a program that has transformed many other EMS providers who’ve faced critical incidents, and helped them heal from the emotional fallout they experienced afterward.

Lang’s critical incident stress management (CISM) program educates prehospital providers in understanding the signs, symptoms and treatments of CISM. As part of the program, Lang recruited peer-to-peer support counselors in helping to offer psychological and emotional first aid to EMS personnel affected by critical incident stress. The program now spans 500 people across four metropolitan counties in Oregon.

Randy Budd, RRT, CEP, wanted to change the approach to intubation and ventilation of prehospital patients. Budd set out to introduce the use of non-invasive positive pressure ventilation (NPPV) in the prehospital setting as a mainstay in field care.

Budd evaluated and chose the best equipment for NPPV, developed a program to train prehospital providers in adapting to and overcoming extraordinary kinds of critical respiratory situations, and has formed partnerships with local hospitals to track patients receiving the NPPV modality. All of this has resulted in avoiding in-hospital intubations in a significant number of patients.

Peter Antevy, MD, spent his career devoted to pediatric emergency medicine. As a pediatric emergency physician, Antevy was frustrated by the lack of a system to calculate accurate drug dosages for children, especially during a resuscitation crisis. So he built one.

Antevy developed a Web-based software program that allows users to correctly calculate any drug dosage for a child, which can be customized into a medication book for EMS agencies and hospitals. Antevy also created a complementary video and the “Badge Buddy” for quick reference in critical pediatric resuscitation events.

Kevin Collopy, BA, FP-C, CCEMT-P, NREMT-P, WEMT, spearheaded an effort to diagnose and treat severe sepsis in the field. His determination led New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Airlink/Vitalink Critical Care Transport to become the first EMS agency in the country to be accredited by the American College of Pathologists.

The drive to accreditation required the agency to meet 5,000 standards. Prehospital providers had to learn specific processes and procedures to take a proactive approach to diagnosing severe sepsis in the field and administer antibiotics on the scene.

When Douglas Kupas, MD, EMT-P, joined the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as the EMS medical director for Pennsylvania’s Department of Health, the state didn’t have statewide protocols in place. Kupas changed that. In 2013, he led the charge to develop a statewide cardiac arrest protocol focused on the science of uninterrupted chest compressions, incorporating the use of high-functioning CPR teams in “pit crews” to put the science in practice.

As part of the pit crew training, providers participated in the first-ever statewide High-Performance CPR Video Contest to highlight best examples of high functioning CPR teams working with the new protocols. Winning video submissions were featured in a high-performance CPR training video used to assist EMS agencies in the implementation of the new protocol.

For years, Dan Swayze, MBA, DrPH, MEMS, envisioned the creation of an innovative community health initiative that involved EMS personnel performing in non-traditional roles. So he did something about it by creating EmedHealth, a program that trains EMS providers to act as community healthcare advocates.

The community paramedicine program now encompasses 45 EMS agencies in Pittsburgh and the surrounding county. Providers assist patients in their homes by helping them to gain access to social support, income and transportation resources as an alternative to calling 9-1-1.

EMS professionals put themselves in harm’s way every day when responding to roadside calls on busy roads and highways throughout the U.S. and every year, thousands of them are injured or killed when struck by a vehicle. Scott Matin, MBA, NREMT-P and Peter Dworsky, CBRM, NREMT-P, decided to address this growing epidemic by creating an innovative video called “High Visibility Safety Vests: Be Safe-Be Seen.”

The two secured funding, conducted research, wrote and revised scripts, and coordinated and shot the video, which depicts how the wearing of brightly colored safety vests makes pre-hospital providers easily seen on roadways. The video carries a serious message about the urgency for EMS personnel to don their vests when working in the field. The video has been downloaded or mailed to EMS agencies across the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Keith Lurie, MD, is a doctor by day and an inventor by night. The cardiologist has devoted himself to researching and developing several CPR devices that have proven to be game changers in cardiac arrest resuscitation. Most of the ideas came to Lurie from watching a family use a toilet plunger to revive their father, who suffered from severe coronary artery disease.

Lurie is the inventor of the ResQPOD ITD which doubles blood flow to the heart and increase blood flow to the brain by 50% during CPR. Clinical studies have shown it increases survival over standard CPR without an ITD by up to 25% or more when used with high quality CPR. He also invented the ResQCPR System, which includes an ACD-CPR device and an ITD and is currently pending FDA approval and is expected to be available in the US later this year. Multiple studies have shown improved blood flow and survival over standard CPR when ACD-CPR is performed with an ITD. Lurie founded Advanced Circulatory Systems, the company that manufactures the device and was recently acquired by ZOLL Medical.

Rachel Phillips, BA (hon.), PGCE, has had several careers in her life, including as a teacher and working in information technology. When the planes went into the World Trade Center in September 2001, her work in IT dried up and a new direction was born. Phillips joined the London Ambulance Service, based at Greenwich Ambulance Station in London, England, as an EMT, in 2002. Since that time, she’s been promoted to the level of clinical tutor and has developed transformative approaches to how EMS personnel are clinically trained.

Her empowering and motivating training methods have helped clinical team leaders to run practical training sessions to constantly build their skills in trauma, obstetric emergencies and ALS care. She created and now teaches “reflective practice,” which encourages other prehospital providers to think deeply about approaches they have on critical calls and how the call might be better handled or understood. Her friendly, approachable nature and absolute focus on learning translates to more confidence in staff willing to admit and correct mistakes in the field, which has led to improved patient care.

In 2007, Wayne Zygowicz, MS, EFO, EMT-P, was enrolled in an executive fire officer (EFO) program while working as a paramedic at the Littleton Fire and Rescue station in Littleton, Colo. During that time, EMS personnel at the station treated and transported a man in the community, who suffered from depression. Five months later, the man returned to the station house with a gun and killed himself on the front lawn of the agency. The incident had a huge impact on Zygowicz.

The 32-year veteran of EMS decided to devote his EFO thesis to investigating and writing about suicide, especially as it pertains to EMS. That decision and paper led to a training and presentation that he has given around the country and at the 2013 EMS Today Conference and Exposition. The paper contains in-depth research, a guide for a training class on suicide for first responders, standard operating procedures for responding to suicidal crisis, and resource brochures to leave at the scene. He hopes the information will bring more awareness and training about suicide to EMS personnel so they might have a better understanding of this complex problem.   

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed reading these profiles and learning about the impact that just a few people can make on the industry, nationally and internationally. We also hope their example will prod you to think bigger, bolder and in entirely new ways about patient care and disease prevention. If you’ve been thinking about developing a new project, or enhancing an existing protocol, we hope these stories will push you to do so. You may find you could dramatically improve, or have a significant impact on, the lives of your fellow EMS colleagues and the patients they serve.

It’s our wish you appreciate the many accomplishments of this year’s winners. We also hope their examples of professionalism and alternative perspectives on the challenges EMS faces will inspire you to start thinking about improvements you can make in your own agency, organization or community. Each of these winners, of their own volition, took on a problem facing EMS and began looking at solutions from every facet, viewing each side of the problem like a prism. The answers may have eluded some in the beginning, but each persisted in thinking deeper, collaborating broadly, and conversing across predetermined boundaries.

Should you have the opportunity to speak to one of these profiled innovators, or if you come across a previous EMS Innovator winner, please take a moment to acknowledge their contribution to EMS. Thank them for their willingness to go the extra mile, think a little differently, and never give up in their quest to make EMS a respected and esteemed field. Thank them for having the will and courage to make the hard choices that fundamental change requires. It’s through their efforts, and the efforts of the people that support them, that the entire EMS profession is moving forward into the next century.