During a surprise presentation at the 15th annual Pinnacle Leadership Forum, Fitch & Associates Founding Partner Christine Zalar announced the creation of the Fitch EMS Foundation. Ms. Zalar said the Foundation is a natural extension of the Firm’s nearly four decades of work in EMS leadership development and education, and a way to push that work even further in the future.
The Firm’s partners carefully orchestrated the Foundation reveal as a surprise for Founding Partner, Joseph J. “Jay” Fitch, PhD., who has demonstrated a deep, ongoing passion for developing leaders throughout his career.
The Fitch EMS Foundation’s mission is to “Fuel the mission and passion of individuals to pursue career pathways as EMS supervisors, managers and executives; to advance innovative EMS leadership opportunities; and to stimulate people to achieve the best version of themselves.”
The Foundation is being established as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, with initial funding provided by the Firm’s partners, including Ms. Zalar, Senior Partner Anthony Minge, EdD, Chief Operations Officer Guillermo Fuentes, and partners Steve Knight, PhD, and Roxanne Peek. After completing its establishment as a non-profit organization, it will seek donations and grants to further its mission. It will be governed by an engaged board of directors from the EMS industry.
Dr. Fitch will serve as the Foundation’s first Executive Director. “I know you’re already plenty busy with client work, but I have one more for you, Jay!” Ms. Zalar said during the presentation.
Ms. Zalar said that education has always been part of the Firm’s DNA. “Jay and the firm have worked all along to identify a need, and to fill it,” she said. “We believe the Fitch EMS Foundation can play an important, critical role in the future of our industry, tackling some of its greatest challenges and continuing to develop leaders. Who better to lead the way than Jay Fitch?”
Ms. Zalar shared much of the journey of Dr. Fitch’s and the Firm’s education-related work, starting with its very first client. The State of Missouri hired Fitch & Associates in 1984 to develop and present an ambulance supervisor course. Dr. Fitch went on to serve as lead author of “Beyond the Street,” a widely circulated book in the industry designed to help EMTs and paramedics transition into supervisory and leadership roles. The book later became a seminar, which has been taught for more than 30 years throughout North America and in Europe.
More publishing projects followed, including “Prehospital Care Administration”, an iconic book tailored for senior EMS leaders, as well as a Management Focus newsletter published regularly and featuring articles related to EMS management and leadership. The Firm also developed a cutting-edge program called “Service First,” designed to teach and model customer service skills that helped improve patient and employee relations, as well as relations among hospitals and other organizations.
In the early 1990s, the firm developed a number of courses, including the Ambulance Service Manager course, which to date has graduated more than 1,000 alumni. Its sister course, the Communication Center Manager Course followed shortly thereafter, and has graduated more than 500 students.
In 2005, Fitch & Associates launched the Pinnacle EMS Leadership Forum, an annual conference for executive-level leaders, medical directors, government officials and hospital leaders from all walks of emergency medical services. Following a year off because of COVID, the Firm held its 15th Pinnacle conference in Phoenix Aug. 9-13, 2021.