Thaddeus “Ted” Setla III left this world suddenly on May 18th, 2021, leaving behind his wife, children and a large hole in the EMS community. Ted had an immeasurable impact on EMS. He started his journey as a paramedic and soon after, turned to his passion and combined the two. His passion was filmmaking. Twelve years ago, Setla produced and released a short film titled Level Zero. This film was partially a recreated drama and partially a documentary which highlighted the strain on his local systems in Alameda County, California. This led to a partnership with AMR and the development of using his style of filmmaking to develop what was the early content for online video CME and social media. This led to Setla being a guest on podcasts and continuously asking the question “why isn’t this being filmed?”
All of Setla’s work was self-funded, but his drive was for the betterment of others and for the EMS system. His films focused on the providers, instead of the call itself. Many people in the film industry shied away from filming EMS in the field, but Setla did not. His mission was always quality content for the providers and the public as well. This included the mini-series Beyond the Lights and Sirens. He then, in 2010 he produced, and interview show called “A Seat at the Table” which had an online audience and a studio audience together filming live discussions of the hot topics of the time.
Setla was even a pioneer in online learning. He created a series of lectures that was based off conversations where there was no speaking “at” the student or reading slides. Instead, there was an environment where the student was brought into the conversation with other providers at different skill levels and experience levels.
Setla was a champion for social media for EMS and EMS education right from the beginning. He had the foresight to see that it would be an unbelievably valuable and positive tool for the EMS profession. Media in 2009 believed that social media would be something that quickly passed. Setla knew it would be here to stay. He was always pushing those around him to help him create new, exciting content and to share it in as many dynamic ways as possible.
Every new paramedic hitting the streets today is a child of the internet, a child of multimedia. Any EMS media seen today –videos and dynamic online learning – were inspired by Setla’s vision for EMS. As the behind-the-scenes person on most of these productions, he did not receive a lot of recognition the “stars” of the productions did, which was fine with him. It is now, with the 2020 EMS 10 Innovation Awards, that Setla is bestowed the well-deserved and long overdue recognition for his contributions to EMS.