Administration and Leadership, EMS Insider

AAA Annual Conference: Report from Day Two

Day two of the American Ambulance Association (AAA) annual conference and trade show brought discussions about innovation, succession planning and how to respond with courage in the face of change. 

Innovative Problem-Solving Techniques

Problem solving can often be an arduous, drawn-out process that leads nowhere. Linda Liebert-Hall utilizes the Innovation Engineering approach. This methodology focuses on external stimulus and specific skills to generate entirely new, often unexpected ideas and solutions to common problems.

Innovation Engineering has over 40 skills in different areas. In this session, Linda walked the group through six Stimulus Mining skills by giving them a real problem and asking them to develop and share their solutions with the group. 

The problem the groups were presented was entirely relevant and timely: “We need ideas for recruiting paramedics.” Attendees spent the majority of the session in small breakout groups where they utilized their newly-acquired skills to facilitate a “rapid fire” idea generation session. “Don’t go down the logic rabbit hole,” Linda reminded the groups, in an effort to prevent them from avoiding the trap of logical thinking during an idea-generation/creation session.

Linda’s group offers training in these sessions; you can learn more here. “These are just four of the Create skills,” she says. 


Liebert-Hall sees the value in this method, and teaching portions of it to groups, and she always marvels at what comes out of the sessions. “It’s always amazing what they come up with,” she says.

Preparing for Your Departure: Succession Planning

Doug Hooten held a session about an issue that is becoming increasingly important in the industry, as more and more Baby Boomers begin to retire: planning for the leaders that will take your place in an organization. 

Succession planning is critical for experienced EMS leaders to consider, but often it’s an afterthought. Doug started his session by asking the group: “How many of you actually have given this any consideration?”

Hooten then walked the group through the benefits of succession planning, for both both the employer and the employee. Among other things, it fosters employee engagement and ensures that valuable institutional knowledge won’t be lost.  Doug then outlined several keys to success, when it comes to succession planning:

  1. Be personally involved – even if you’re a senior leader!
  2. Employees are committed to their own self development “Who’s not in this for them?”
  3. Success is based on a business case for long-term needs – not short-term stuff. This allows you to identify leadership competencies and take the time to develop those in your people. 
  4. Succession planning addreses challenges such as diversity, recruitment and retention.
  5. A succession plan should be a living document that’s refreshed as necessary.
  6. Establish a process for assessing your internal candidates.
  7. Conduct a stress test and simulation with potential leaders.

Keynote: The Five Second Rule

Mel Robbins, the well-known CNN correspondent and TEDX speaker, offered an entirely new perspective on facing challenging, quickly shifting and uncomfortable situations with courage: The Five Second Rule.

Its relevance for the EMS industry is incalculable, and she recognized that immediately. “No one knows, more than you, the importance of five seconds. It’s the difference between life and death.” 

Day Two at the AAA was a powerful reminder about the importance of leadership, employee development and self-awareness – and the connection between all three of these things.