American Ambulance Association Wraps Up Successful 2016 Conference

While the rest of the country was focused on election coverage, top EMS officials were gathered in Las Vegas to share ideas and strategies for positioning EMS as a critical healthcare function, not just transportation service.

The American Ambulance Association (AAA) hosted its annual conference at Caesar’s Palace Nov. 7—9. The event is an opportunity for top minds across the EMS industry to learn the latest updates from AAA’s lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill, updates on healthcare payments and reform efforts, and strategies for employee management and retention. Having so many thought leaders in one place also provides attendees a chance to look into the crystal ball and see where EMS is heading in coming years.

With the historic 2016 election occurring in the middle of the conference schedule, many session presenters were talking about how the outcome may affect our current strategies for transitioning to a fee-for-service model. And while the future of the Affordable Care Act under President Trump remains to be seen, most attendees agreed that we cannot hold on to fee-for-transport any longer. Sessions on payment reform, transforming EMS into a profession, and leading employees in scary and uncertain times were heavily attended, and many speakers openly admitted that they don’t have all the answers, but asking the right questions is the first step in getting the conversation started.

While EMS leaders are grappling with sustainable business models, they are also concerned for the health and safety of their providers. AAA devoted a whole keynote session to finding happiness and a positive outlook on life and how that affects our professional success. Sessions like Steve Wirth’s presentation on stress management and Scott Moore’s take on managing stress-related employee claims were well attended. The closing keynote roundtable, moderated by JEMS editor-in-chief A.J. Heightman, devoted significant time to PTSD in providers and how EMS leaders can provide better employee assistance programs using data to track traumatic incidents and take an active role in the healing process for affected providers.

On election night, Tuesday Nov. 8, AAA swore in its new president, Mark Postma of Sunstar Paramedics and Paramedics Plus. Postma has served in EMS since the age of 16, is the recipient of the Iowa Governors Safety Award, was named one of the Top Business Leaders in the Quad Cities, served on the Board of Directors of the Iowa EMS Association and is the immediate past chairman of the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services. AAA also honored distinguished leaders in EMS with its annual AMBY awards, a great opportunity for members to recognize and learn from the good work and accomplishments of their peers.

We hope you will join JEMS and AAA as we continue these important conversations at EMS Today 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah, where we will present important pre-conference workshops on leadership and payment reform as part of our ongoing partnership to provide the very best education for EMS providers and leaders in the industry.

For more information about AAA, visit

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