Administration and Leadership

Reflections on the Impact of JEMS over the Past 35 Years

Issue 3 and Volume 40.

For the 35th anniversary of JEMS, we reached out to leaders in the EMS industry who’ve dedicated their lives to EMS and who’ve contributed to JEMS throughout their careers and our 35-year history. We asked them to reflect on the impact they felt JEMS has had on EMS. What follows are their comments (and a photo of each from 1980).

Scotty Bolleter, BS, EMT-P
Chief, Bulverde Spring Branch
Emergency Services
Spring Branch, Texas

JEMS was and is a catalyst. It excited me as a young paramedic in the early ’80s, propelled and nudged me to learn more, touched me on multiple levels—from the hilarious Steve Berry and other columns, to the saddening loss of Jim Page in 2004 and other friends since—and connected us to each other.
What a chronicle and respectful nod toward our modern EMS careers, with constant insights to our collective futures, which have always found a way of appearing in the pages of JEMS before we apply it in practice.

Honestly, congratulations on being our “modern EMS” historic reference, sounding board and beacon of things yet to come. Huge kudos on bringing hearts, minds, luminaries and “the rest of us” together with the common goal of improving prehospital medicine, even when growing seemed kind of hard.
Until being given the opportunity to contribute to this 35th anniversary article, I hadn’t considered what JEMS really added up to within my own mind and career. Thank you for the journey! There’s not a country on the planet that I’ve been in where the name of JEMS hasn’t been there with me!

Thom Dick, EMT-P
Quality manager operations manager, Platte Valley (Colo.) Ambulance
Brighton, Colo.
Former JEMS staff member & Tricks of the Trade columnist

JEMS, for me, was a gateway to more dear and lifelong friendships than I could ever have imagined—in Mexico City, Toledo, Israel, Iraq, Northern Ireland, Germany, London, South Africa, Canada, Sweden, Alaska, Norway, Texas, Nebraska, Hawaii, Cuba and a hundred other places where I had never been.

What a thrill it was, for this ordinary hometown EMT to attend a conference of 5,000 EMSers and casually have lunch with EMTs and medics from 10 other nations at once. I know that never would have happened if Jim Page (and his family) and Keith Griffiths hadn’t risked their careers and their fortunes to assemble such a vision.

I’ve loved it, and I’ll never forget it—or either of them.

Scott Bourn,
PhD, RN, EMT-P
Vice president of clinical practices & research, American Medical Response
Greenwood Village, Colo.
Former JEMS columnist

I was privileged to write three recurring columns in JEMS between 1986 and 1995 (Clinical Q & A; Controversies in Clinical Care; Street Signs) and then served as a contributing editor through 2002. I’m grateful for my long association with the magazine, and—like many of our readers—believe JEMS shaped my professional development.

In the early days of EMS, the close communication between JEMS founders Jim Page and Keith Griffiths—who was also my first editor—and the writers was exhilarating. The world of “knowledge” within EMS was small, and as a result, in many ways, we unknowingly helped shape the practice of EMS through our writing.

Although we rarely got together in the same room, sharing ideas and clinical/operational concepts with Thom Dick, Kate and Jim Dernocoeur, Mike Taigman, Keith Neely, Jack Stout, Mike Smith, Loren Marshall, Carol Shanaberger, Manny Garza, Rick Keller, John Becknell and many, many others was guided by the same principles as the magazine: unyielding focus on patients and communities; open and honest discussion of any and all ideas; and the acceptance of divergent opinions.

As a young professional, this environment taught me to be aware and honest about my limitations (in truth, the majority of topics discussed in my Clinical Q & A column were concepts that even I was unclear about), willing to take risks (my exploration of EMS clinical practice led me to write some very bizarre columns) and confident that, at the very highest levels, the publication would support the written exchanges of ideas even when they came under fire. These were essential frameworks for the growth of a new practice of medicine.

During its first 5–10 years, I believe JEMS truly shaped the first generation of EMS leaders, many of whom lead our systems today. Congratulations to past and present JEMS founders, editors and authors. You’ve helped to shape an industry.    

Keith Griffiths
President, RedFlash Group
San Diego, Calif.
Founding editor of JEMS

A little more than 35 years ago, when the idea of JEMS was incubating, founding publisher Jim Page took on the pseudonym of Sinclair Germaine and wrote an article in the final issue of Paramedics International, published in the fall of 1979, which I had the distinct privilege of editing. In a few months, that magazine would become the Journal of Emergency Medical Services. While the story itself was important, Jim wanted to set the broader stage for investigative journalism in EMS, demonstrating the care and honesty that would be a hallmark of JEMS.

“Maneuvering around Heimlich” was the title of the article and it was Jim Page at his best. It was a story about the medical politics that informed the debate around a procedure that emergency responders embraced but that some scientists rejected because of the grandstanding reputation of its namesake, Henry Heimlich.

All these years later, our kids are being taught “abdominal thrusts,” but the story of how one man fought the medical establishment is captured in Jim’s timeless story—it’s the essence of the JEMS spirit … and a cautionary tale of hubris that Jim told so well.

Bryan Bledsoe, DO
Professor of emergency medicine, University of Nevada School of Medicine
Las Vegas, Nev.

In 1975, the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) came to my hometown of Fort Worth, Texas, for an EMS conference. At that time, I was enrolled in the first paramedic class in the Fort Worth area. I had heard Jim Page would be there, so I went down to the meeting. I got to meet Jim and we ultimately became friends for the rest of his life.

At that meeting I picked up a new magazine called Paramedics International that Jim had told me about. I took it home and read it from cover to cover. Later, Paramedics International evolved into JEMS. Today, I still read JEMS from cover to cover.

Beyond that, JEMS has always allowed me to publish my ideas no matter how outlandish they seemed at the time. The magazine has never been afraid to address controversy but always did so in a very fair and balanced manner.

Jim had always wanted JEMS to be the “Conscience of EMS.” No doubt, he achieved that goal. He also assured that the spirit of the magazine would go on by his careful selection of publishers, editors and other employees.

Jim Page would still be proud of JEMS today. I still look forward to JEMS arriving in the mail and look to it as venue to help push EMS in the right direction.

Edward T. Dickinson,
MD, NREMT-P, FACEP
Associate professor and director of prehospital field operations, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
Philadelphia, Pa.
JEMS medical editor

JEMS was always there in the firehouse and the ambulance stations as I rose through the ranks as an EMT, AEMT and paramedic in the 1980s. In 1989, as a freshly minted emergency medicine intern, I submitted my first article to JEMS. I will never forget the rush I felt seeing my first article in JEMS. It was the first work I had ever had published, and for an English major like me, it was huge!

I never could have imagined that 25 years later I’d be serving as the medical editor of JEMS and now have the opportunity to edit and promote the work of other up-and-coming EMS authors.

A.J. Heightman, MPA, EMT-P
JEMS editor-in-chief
San Diego, Calif.
Former EMS director, eastern Pennsylvania

For me, my involvement with JEMS has been a career-long pleasure. I started out reading every page of JEMS because I knew that the passion and innovation of Jimmy Page and Keith Griffiths would be a game changer for the EMS industry.

The opportunity to help craft the vision and editorial content for JEMS has been the highlight of my career. As an EMS administrator, I was often frustrated by the inability to convince organizations stuck on old traditions and resistant to advance with changes in clinical medicine, and politicians who didn’t understand the need for improvement and funding for EMS. Jim Page taught me how to counter these obstacles as a personal mentor, and JEMS taught me how to do it through editorial content and forward vision.

Long before I became editor-in-chief of JEMS, I looked to the journal to tell me and my colleagues where EMS was—and could be—going. The fact JEMS has been able to look into the future, review evidence-based medicine, present solid research and concepts as well as products and innovations, is perhaps the most important contribution JEMS has made to the EMS industry. Through a solid and hard-working editorial board, JEMS has been able to receive concrete advice and guidance on where we should be looking and pushing the EMS industry.

It has been an honor for me to serve you, our readers, as a small part of a big endeavor in the development and expansion of JEMS.

Baxter Larmon, PhD, MICP
Professor of medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Los Angeles, Calif.

JEMS has always been a leader in the promotion of EMS research and was the original partner that helped create, promote and publish the first Prehospital Care Research Forum (PCRF) abstracts more than 20 years ago. JEMS, along with EMS Today, was also the first venue to support PCRF abstracts and posters at a national EMS conference. In that regard, JEMS supported a network of PCRF workshops that trained more than 400 novice EMS researchers around the country. Many of these research workshop graduates have gone on to be nationally recognized EMS leaders.

Evidence-based medicine and practice, as well as patient safety, are the current mantra in medicine and prehospital care. JEMS has been instrumental in allowing us to find and promote the evidence that supports, or the myths that prevail, in our or field of medicine. PCRF is very thankful for JEMS being our partner.

Mary Newman
Executive director, Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation
Pittsburgh, Pa.

JEMS has been the go-to source for news and information on EMS, thanks to its dynamic leadership, the thought leaders who comprise its editorial board, and its penchant for cultivating new authors who possess enthusiasm and great ideas. JEMS is always ahead of the curve when it comes to introducing new technologies and starting the conversation about controversial topics.

JEMS has had a profound impact on my career. Jim Page was my first boss and was truly an inspiration. He believed in me and my potential long before I realized saving lives was to become my passion. It’s an honor to still be associated with JEMS after all these years.

When thinking of ways that JEMS is visionary, three articles come to mind. “The Chain of Survival Concept Takes Hold” (1989:14;11–13) introduced the “Chain of Survival” metaphor for survival from sudden cardiac arrest, a concept that was subsequently adopted by the American Heart Association and others, and is now used by resuscitation organizations worldwide.

Another article, “Nation’s First Community of Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivors,” (online April 28, 2010), introduced the notion that, thanks to improving resuscitation techniques and growing awareness about the importance of immediate bystander intervention, there’s a new community of people who survived sudden cardiac arrest neurologically intact—a gradually growing community filled with wonder and purpose.

The third article that comes to mind is “The CPR Mandate: A JEMS Survey Investigates Attitudes Toward CPR Training in Our Nation’s Schools” (1986;11(4):26–33). JEMS recognized the importance of such training decades ago. After all these years, making CPR training universally available in schools in the U.S. is still an elusive goal, but progress is being made. Quality CPR-AED training is required today in at least 18 states.

Gary Ludwig
Fire chief, Champaign (Ill.) Fire Department
Hillsboro, Mo.
JEMS columnist

The job of any seasoned EMS professional is to make a younger EMS professional wiser, smarter and more astute in their EMS career. They should impart their wisdom and experience to make younger EMS professionals better clinically and operationally and, maybe eventually, help them in a leadership role. The goal should be to make others grow, flourish and be productive in their careers.

A mentor isn’t always a human. JEMS has served as that organizational mentor to thousands in the EMS profession for the last 35 years, serving as the focal point of many mentors who’ve collectively shared their wisdom and knowledge with those who aspire to become better. Those who’ve read JEMS over the last 35 years have been imparted with insight that has kept them on the cutting edge of the profession.

Over the years, I have personally benefited from the shared and collective wisdom of many who wrote for JEMS.

The only constant is change. As the profession has changed, JEMS has been at the forefront of bringing that change to its readers. The contribution of JEMS to the profession has been incalculable.

Janet Smith
EMS consultant, Janet Smith & Associates
San Diego, Calif.

I became aware of JEMS while working as a paramedic and PIO for Mercy Ambulance in Las Vegas, Nev., in the late ‘70s and during the ‘80s. For us EMSers on the line, JEMS was to paramedics what JAMA was for physicians in terms of clinical articles and good, solid patient care advice. Later, when I became the industry image committee chairperson for the American Ambulance Association, I was honored to be an author and advisor for the JEMS article review team. As such, I reviewed all submitted articles having to do with EMS marketing or public relations.

For me and our Mercy Ambulance leadership team, led by Bob Forbuss, JEMS was the go-to publication for the most cutting-edge advice and reporting for issues like disaster management, reliable and clinically sound EMS operations, and for insights regarding EMS economics. And, it still is.

JEMS also continues to represent the market for recruitment and company/products and services advertising. I capitalized on the benefits of advertising in JEMS during the early ‘90s when serving as the corporate communications manager for MedTrans. This was during the time when private ambulance consolidation was at its peak.

I particularly enjoyed becoming good friends with Jim Page and his staff back in the day as much as I now enjoy working with A.J. Heightman and his team. My affiliation with JEMS enriched my personal EMS experience as a caregiver and continues to contribute to my 25-year career as an EMS consultant.

In 1981, Editor-in-Chief Jim Page penned the article “Command Performance.” The article touted Bob Forbuss’ leadership during the MGM Hotel fire response, when Bob oversaw triage and transportation of more than 300 patients by our company, Mercy Ambulance. That congratulatory editorial meant a lot to each and every one of us who took care of people that day in Las Vegas. And, it especially meant a lot to Forbuss, who so much appreciated Jim’s review of a private ambulance service’s response. Forbuss  wore another hat as an executive board member of the American Ambulance Association at that time and private ambulance services didn’t see much good ink in those days. 

I also loved that JEMS published my account of the “Private Side of the Battle of the Bids.” This article and the JEMS-sponsored EMS Today workshop led by Jim Page and Jack Stout, pitting public and private bids against each other and featuring all-night strategy sessions, became legendary. It was highly educational to the attendees and great fun to be a part of.

Susan D. McHenry
EMS specialist, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Washington, D.C.

JEMS has always been forward-thinking and has enlisted the help of many EMS leaders across the industry to stay in the forefront. I served as state EMS director for the Commonwealth of Virginia from 1976 until early 1996, when I left to begin my work with the Office of EMS at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), where I still love my EMS career. I have always relied on JEMS as a great source of the most current thinking on challenges and opportunities of an evolving system of care. 

Over the decades, as the EMS system has matured and changed pretty dramatically, JEMS has served as a great source of information and ideas that have helped our profession advance. The heavily footnoted and detailed JEMS supplements have been extremely valuable, as they can bring together a number of superb articles that address a broader topic.

The timeliness of JEMS news has also been greatly enhanced online with jems.com news and email updates.

Perhaps even more importantly, JEMS continues as the centerpiece for the serious discussions of today that will set the course for the future.
Articles with divergent viewpoints on community paramedicine, finance, and our role in the healthcare system provide not only required background information, but allow the debate to be raised to a higher and more relevant level. Again, for me, each issue of JEMS is mandatory reading, it’s as simple as that.

Ron Stewart, MD
Former Minister of Health, Government of Nova Scotia, Canada

Forty-two years and counting … I refer to my career in EMS as, “Adventures in the wonderland of EMS.” Even in the most carefully laid plans, fate can intervene and we’re carried along as “accidental tourists” to an unplanned destination. That’s the best explanation I can give for my lifelong adventure with paramedics and EMS. It began for me when I met a man by the name of Jim Page in his office, when he was a battalion chief with the L.A. County Fire Department, Calif. He was excited about advancements being made by the department in emergency medicine.

Shortly after that, during my rotation on admitting surgery at L.A. County Hospital, I ran into the crew of “Rescue 3.” They were the first paramedics I ever encountered. They were standing by a patient we were admitting and I noticed them by their big, shiny black boots and blue pants.

When they said, “We’re paramedics,” I replied with, “Oh, what’s a paramedic?” And it was all downhill after that—they became my mentors, and I soon was hooked on EMS.

Not long after, I ended up on the cover of the forerunner of JEMS, Paramedics International, which Jim purchased from paramedic Ron Simmons for $1 and turned into an industry-leading journal.

I was coming from an American Heart Association meeting in my greens and came across a bad accident. The crews were loading the patient and they asked me to take care of the airway. I did exactly what they told me to do and returned with them, in my trench coat and greens, to the same hospital where I had been attending the meeting—to the surprise of the ED staff there! 

And that was the “accidental” start of many fulfilling years of teaching, riding with, and developing a profound respect for EMTs and paramedics, and doing whatever I could to improve care in the complex, and often hostile arena, of prehospital medicine.

Recently, a plaque in the EMS headquarters here in Nova Scotia, Canada, honoured me with the citation, “He taught medicine in the streets.” It should have read, “He was taught medicine in the streets” and by a new breed of health professionals: Paramedics.

JEMS played an early and key role in my career, and what we now know as modern EMS. And I couldn’t be more grateful. I’m living the dream.

Walt Stoy, PhD, EMT-P
Professor and director, Emergency Medicine Program at University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, Pa.

Without question, there are a plethora of medical events—for medications or medical devices—that anyone could offer as impacting the current and future direction of healthcare. However, for this anniversary edition of JEMS, I’ve elected to speak about the impact of the numerous technologies beyond the boundaries of medicine altering the way we think, act and work in the healthcare arena.

The exponential growth of social media has provided both positive and negative benefit to how we function in the out-of-hospital domain. The speed at which we can share information (medical, administrative and social) is assisting greatly in the design, development, implementation and evaluation of all healthcare systems. JEMS is part of this vitally important process by continuing with a traditional journal, as well as having a virtual presence via the Internet. Unfortunately, there are also a significant number of events taking place to the detriment of the EMS community. Many individuals working in the profession lack the discipline in utilizing these powerfully enriching tools. The list of social media websites available for use in society is extensive. It’s difficult for any provider to determine which method is the best way to obtain current and valid information regarding our profession.

I’m extremely proud of my long-term relationship with JEMS. This journal was birthed by James O. Page as an EMS journal for EMS providers and administrators. The premise for the publication was to position authors to share EMS content to those seeking to expand their horizons.

The early years of JEMS formed a foundation for me and thousands of others. Technology has allowed for greater access to EMS providers in a timelier manner. Responsible journalism has been the hallmark of JEMS and I’m honored to say I’ve been a subscriber since JEMS’s inception. Jim would surely be proud of the accomplishments.

JEMS shaped decades of EMS providers seeking to make a difference. I’m certain it shall continue to move forward in the appropriate direction with the traditional and technology-rich methods afforded to us.

Jerry Overton
Chair, International Academies of Emergency Dispatch
Salt Lake City, Utah

While it’s certainly tempting to identify an article, or a plethora of articles for that matter, that have been influential these past years, from my perspective that would miss the real impact JEMS has made on moving EMS forward, and on me personally.

In the end, it’s the body of articles, the quality of articles, and the timeliness of articles that made JEMS a must read for those of us engaged in EMS and creating systems that are both innovative and patient-focused.

JEMS has never shied away from controversial, cutting-edge issues, whether it be the new concepts of Stout and Clawson or first highlighting risk and safety factors, including the overuse of a red lights and siren response.

Ron Thackery
Senior vice president, American Medical Response Professional Services & Integration
Greenwood Village, Colo.

JEMS consistently provides a good overview of the matters that are important in EMS and is received as one of the cornerstones of the industry for providers. Providers take great pride in the subjects discussed in JEMS because it adds credence to the profession.

The article in the late ’90s that discussed the advantages of road safety in Richmond, Va., was an important article by JEMS to highlight what safety initiatives can and do work to keep our crews safe during responses and care.

Mike Taigman
General manager, American Medical Response Ventura County/Gold Coast Ambulance
Santa Barbara, Calif.

First and foremost, I’ve always considered myself a student. JEMS was my favorite classroom and the authors my teachers. From the moment I spotted a copy of JEMS laying on a sofa in a paramedic division day room in Denver, Colo., I was hooked.

Jim Page taught me that policy matters and that you don’t mess with people who buy ink by the barrel. Thom Dick taught me how to really care for people—all kinds of people. Jack Stout taught me how to see EMS as an integrated system. Jim and Kate Dernocoeur showed me that EMS was cool all over the planet. I still use many of the lessons I learned from those early authors and JEMS issues today.

A few years after reading JEMS and meeting authors and contributors, and with Kate Dernocoeur’s cattle prodding and Keith Griffith’s kind nurturing, I began writing. Then, with Betty Till’s support, I started speaking at conferences. JEMS took a risk on a kid who flunked spelling in 3rd grade and they published my articles for the world to see, even when what I had to say inspired lots of angry letters to the editor.

For more than 40 years, I’ve had a fun career working in 48 states, most of the Canadian provinces, Israel, Palestine, Australia, Tasmania and many countries in Europe. None of it would’ve been possible without JEMS!

Jack Stout’s articles on EMS system design, performance contracting, benchmarking, etc. totally blew the doors off of the “we’ll just do the best we can” approach that used to be the foundation of everything in EMS. Now, nearly every major EMS system in America, and many across the world, have embraced, modified and implemented many of the concepts Jack invented and JEMS published. My bias is that millions of patients have benefited from his pioneering attitude and JEMS’ willingness to publish his forward-thinking concepts.

Doug Wolfberg, Esq.
Founding partner, Page, Wolfberg & Wirth, LLC
Mechanicsburg, Pa.
JEMS columnist

The impact of JEMS on EMS is impossible to measure, because it’s impossible to imagine EMS without JEMS. It’s been an integral part of the EMS profession for almost as long as EMS has been a profession.

In my mind, it has always been a “chicken and egg” thing—did EMS need a journal like JEMS because it was becoming a recognized profession, or did EMS become an accepted profession because of JEMS?  It’s almost impossible to separate the two. JEMS came along at precisely the right moment and gave voice and legitimacy to an entire industry.

If I might be personal for a moment, I firmly believe that I owe my career to JEMS. As a volunteer EMS provider in a small Pennsylvania town in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I literally grew up reading JEMS and admiring its content as well as its publisher, James O. Page.

In September 1989, my first article, “Weeding Through the Product Jungle,” was published in JEMS. Jim chose it as the cover story and praised it in that month’s “Publisher’s Page.” I was 23-years-old. I’m not sure to this day that I can fully articulate what seeing my name in JEMS for the first time meant to me. I framed the cover—which, incidentally, featured Jim’s son, Tom.

Just as JEMS helped to legitimize EMS, being published in it was, for me, legitimizing my career choice in EMS. It also led to a close working relationship with Jim Page, a monthly column, and a spot on the JEMS Editorial Board.

My association with JEMS and Jim also got me seriously thinking about enrolling in law school—which I did in 1993, armed with a referenced letter from none other than James O. Page, I might add. A few years after I graduated from law school, Jim, Steve Wirth and I started a law firm together. Not a day goes by when I don’t reflect on how much of an honor it is to see my name next to Jim’s. For many years after we started the firm, I received countless phone calls from prospective new clients saying something like, “I know you from JEMS, and our ambulance service would like to engage your services.” It was almost as if we needed no introduction to the industry when we opened our doors. Our work in JEMS, to a large extent, did that for us.

The articles that had the most profound effect on me were, not surprisingly, the ones that dealt with EMS systems and legal issues: Jack Stout’s work on system status management (SSM) and deployment; Carol Shanberger and Rich Lazar’s legal articles; Jim Page’s insightful commentary, oozing with the voice of conscience. Reading about subjects in JEMS like documentation, consent and refusals of care sparked my interest in EMS law and contributed to a body of knowledge that the industry still draws on to this day.

One of the highlights of my career has been to contribute to that body of knowledge in some small way, and to honor the legacy of those industry giants who shaped the early pages of JEMS. I don’t for a moment believe that I can measure up to them but, by following their example, I humbly hope in some small way to do them proud by continuing to contribute content that advances the industry legally and ethically.

Happy Anniversary, JEMS! You always were—and will continue to be—the “Conscience of EMS.”

Marvin Wayne,
MD, FACEP, FAAEM, FAHA
EMS medical program director, Bellingham/Whatcom County, Wa.
Bellingham, Wash.

I first met Jim Page in 1978 while he was traveling north from California to Vancouver, Canada. I had invited him to my “new” 4-year-old EMS system in Bellingham and Whatcom County, Wash. 

Jim told me of his desire to start a professional journal, which would become JEMS. We became close friends and stayed that way until his untimely death.

So many pioneering ideas were first described in JEMS, as illustrated in 15, 25 and 30-year anniversary issues. Since year 30, we’ve seen many noted game-changing ideas. This includes video laryngoscopy (something our own system has been using for almost nine years with a recorder), the impedance threshold device (ITD) and Cardiopump, and LUCAS and other mechanical CPR devices. Those innovations were often first described to the EMS community in JEMS.

JEMS has recently led the way in publishing an article on a world without backboards, a long-overdue move, allowing services to do away with the hard “barbaric” devices we’ve used for so many years.

As we move toward the next 30 years, I’m certain JEMS will continue to lead us down the path to a better delivery of care. It has been my privilege to have made a small contribution to JEMS throughout the past 35 years. Onward to our future!

Keith Wesley, MD
Medical director, HealthEast Medical Transportation
St. Paul, Minn.
JEMS columnist

In 1986, before I took my first Life Flight HEMS call during my emergency medicine residency, I was sitting in the lounge and I picked up a magazine from the table and noted the title, JEMS. The specialty of emergency medicine was only a few years old and I was excited to be a part of it.

Not recognizing this journal, my interest was piqued. I opened it and soon found I couldn’t put it down until I had read every page—including the ads.

That was when my passion for EMS took root. I hadn’t previously been aware of, or acknowledged, the dedication and commitment of the men and women who went out every day in any weather to care for the patients I then saw in the warmth and security of the ED.

Later, as my career in EMS progressed, it was the authors of JEMS articles who served as my mentors. It was the fine, well-written articles in JEMS that provided me the tools to teach my young EMTs. And later, it was JEMS that gave me the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share my knowledge and love for EMS as an author and columnist.

Steve Wirth, Esq., EMT-P
Founding partner, Page, Wolfberg & Wirth, LLC
Mechanicsburg, Pa.
JEMS columnist

JEMS has always been more than a magazine or information source for EMS. It has blazed the trail of innovation—presenting new ideas, concepts and technology in a way that could be used to help communities throughout our nation provide the best possible emergency care.

In 1980, I was a young, newly minted paramedic in north central Pennsylvania—and a barely wet-behind-the-ears assistant fire chief of a small, rural fire company looking for a way to improve EMS in our piece of the world. For many of us in rural America, we didn’t get out very much and JEMS was our way of seeing what others were doing to develop and improve patient care in the field. The articles in JEMS were always right on target and provided a roadmap for change. JEMS also provided the credible support that many of us relied on to bring about improvements in our systems.

On a personal level, I couldn’t wait to get the next issue and read it cover to cover to pick up some new ideas. JEMS sparked my desire to say to our community, “We can do this here,” and, “This is how we can save more lives.” 

The leadership of Jim Page and his profound and candid messages shook things up for the betterment of us all. JEMS and Jim Page’s philosophy has remained constant and taught us all to be intolerant of mediocrity and to always strive for improvement in ourselves and in our EMS systems.

That conscience for our industry that Jim and Keith Griffiths started continues under the passionate leadership of A.J. Heightman. The theme of today’s content remains true to those early core values. JEMS continues to offer timely, insightful and meaningful articles that remind us that, in all that we do, we must never lose sight of the impact that we can have on the lives of others.

Always putting the patient first is, in my view, the real mantra that has allowed JEMS to be so successful for 35 years and to remain a key force for positive change.

It may seem a bit far-fetched to say that an industry journal can save lives. But there’s no doubt in my mind that there have been, and continue to be, countless lives saved by the changes brought about as a result of the positive influence JEMS has had on so many EMS leaders and providers nationwide.