Day One of the 18th Annual American Ambulance Association (AAA) Stars of Life Event

The 18th Annual American Ambulance Association (AAA) Stars of Life event kicked off its first of three days this morning at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. The Stars of Life is an awards program recognizing remarkable ambulance services professionals across the country. Although many of the 108 Stars of Life are EMTs and paramedics, awardees also include dispatchers, educators, fleet technicians and other dedicated men and women who stand out and represent excellence in every area of the industry.

The first item on today’s agenda saw the Stars of Life participating in a Hill Meeting Training with AAA’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tristan North and Randy Strozyk, the Executive Vice President of Operations for American Medical Response. Over the next three days, Stars will be accompanying host agencies on their visits to Capitol Hill to help tell the story of how our medical first responders are a critical part of the fabric of American healthcare and to help support industry lobbying efforts. During the training, Stars were given tips on how to put their best face forward and were encouraged to talk less about politics and more about themselves and their achievements.

Following the training, the Stars gathered for a fun-filled, casual ice-breaker session, where they played a fact-based Bingo game to learn about each other. A team-building exercise followed, where the Stars were split up into ten teams and given materials such as duct tape, toilet paper, ponchos and candy and were tasked with designing the “EMS uniform of the future.”

Today’s main event was the Stars of Life recognition luncheon held at the Marriott Wardman Park, which was kicked off by an entertaining and enlightening keynote by physician-turned-healthcare visionary Zubin Damania, MD. Also known by his alter ego, ZDoggMD (, Damania used song parodies and humor to critique the current model of healthcare delivery, which he calls Health 2.0, explaining how technology in large part has transformed the patient from a person into a commodity and often cripples providers to lead patients down a path toward wellness.

Damania described a new healthcare delivery model, Health 3.0, which is based on empowering patients and providers. In the world of Health 3.0, providers operate at the top of their scope of practice and take a holistic, team-based approach to patient care. The Health 3.0 concept was successfully tried and tested at Damania’s Turntable Health clinic in Las Vegas, where health coaches partner with patients and other team members in the continuum of patient care in order to focus on empowering patients to take control of their own health, teaching them wellness techniques and acting as mediators between doctors and patients. And EMS providers, Damiana noted, are on the front lines of Health 3.0–as a team help deliver compassion across the continuum of care.

Following the keynote, AAA President and Vice President of Paramedics Plus Mark Potsma presented each of the award recipients with their distinctive Stars of Life medal and pin. The Stars were then set loose and encouraged to explore the nation’s capital. Hill Meetings will commence tomorrow and a dinner banquet will be held at the Omni where AAA will also hand out their Legislator of the Year Award.

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