On Feb. 17, 2019, the Taiwanese Rhinoceros and Phoenix teams took an 18-hour flight from Taiwan to Washington, D.C., to attend the JEMS Games at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. There were 14 people in attendance: eight participants, three medical directors and three EMS mentors. We carried not only our luggage and equipment, but also the excitement and anticipation of the unknown challenge. Surprisingly, we were the first team from Asia to attend the JEMS Games.
With the help from New Taipei City Fire Department (NTFD) and the well-known domestic charity Hans Group, an open audition for participants was held in November 2018. Nearly 50 experienced and outstanding EMTs ran the competition and eight individuals were selected to participate in the competition. It was an honor to be chosen, but then I saw the list of drugs used during the competition. Some of them are not available in Taiwan. The two teams spent the next two months learning how to use these drugs from our medical directors and through coursework.
We watched videos of previous JEMS Games on YouTube to prepare – sometimes over and over again. We also read the video descriptions for clues. We even invited medical directors throughout Taiwan to help us.
We enjoyed working together even though there were many obstacles to overcome. We had to learn how to use new drugs and figure out a way to bring them to America since bringing them into the country was illegal. After discussing the problem with the JEMS committee, we figured out a solution: fill a tiny glass bottle with water and create a label on the front to mimic the medication.
Our clever idea did not fare so well after the plane ride, however. After arriving in the United States, we found during the morning equipment inspections that the drug packs we made were damaged. The water in the bottles leaked out onto the tags, making them unrecognizable. We only had a few hours to recreate our supplies and it took our entire group some time to produce them again. The experience turned out to be one of the most precious memories I have from the competition. It also made us a better team.
“I will definitely be back.” That was first thought in my mind as I stepped into the conference. All of our competitors were friendly and they wanted to share their experiences with us. We also met the players we watched hundreds of times on YouTube.
We enjoyed the competition. Each segment of the game was perfectly designed. There were several challenging parts for us, including Rapid-Fire Knowledge Assessment and Rapid Triage. That was especially true for us because English is not our native language. Fortunately, the JEMS committee allowed us to bring one extra interpreter with us. Participating in the game refreshed my view of EMS.
We often rely on the faith of God to calm us down during challenging situations. Although it is a little bit embarrassing to say, we brought something from Taiwan to calm us down: a charm from a temple. I am not sure how much God helped during the competition, but it definitely helped us relax.
After we returned to Taiwan, I thought about what we learned from the competition. I vividly remembered when JEMS Editor Emeritus A.J. Heightman came over and told us to enjoy the competition. At that moment, I was not totally aware of what he meant. After arriving back home, I finally realized what he meant: We’re doing the same thing all around the world. JEMS organizes the competition course and conference for players to share their knowledge, experience, technique and enthusiasm with each other. All we have to do is seize the chance to interact with our fellow first responders and appreciate everyone we met.
Thank you to all the medical directors for the training and for coming with us. It is nice to know so many people around the world share the same enthusiasm in trying to make EMS even better. We are looking forward to meeting you again soon!