Cape Breton Paramedic Conference: Looking Back and Moving Forward

The Cape Breton Paramedic Conference takes place just outside of Sydney in Nova Scotia, Canada, every September. The first conference was held in 2013, after a group of frontline paramedic clinicians, educators and administrators had a vision of delivering world-class education to the paramedics of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia. The three-day conference, held this year on Sep. 27-29, is attended by approximately 120 people at the Gaelic College in St. Ann’s, a beautiful location nestled in the woods of the world-renowned Cabot Trail, overlooking scenic St. Ann’s Bay. The conference boasts an exceptional educational experience with just the right amount of down-home, Cape Breton flavor.

Preconference sessions begin on Friday with the main conference starting Friday evening. A group dinner is served in a quaint cafeteria where EMS-related topics are discussed. All the meals from Friday through Sunday are served as a group. Engagement with the locals is enlightening and extremely informative.

The Cape Breton Paramedic Conference is held at the Gaelic College, which overlooks beautiful St. Ann’s Bay.

Walt Stoy Reports on Last Year’s Conference

As the first presentations began, I knew this conference would be different. A very casual environment was established by the participants, the faculty and the program committee. As an invited international presenter, I was still overdressed for my presentation. I didn’t take a tie but could have been in my jeans and my fleece–my preferred way to dress these days–and I still would have been welcomed to the stage. As a hopeless romantic, I loved this entire event.

Those in attendance for this sixth conference were predominantly from Cape Breton and mainland Nova Scotia, however, there were individuals from across Canada, the United States and even Qatar! Most of the 120 participants were housed on location at the Gaelic College. Others, including myself, were housed offsite in Baddeck.

The location was easy to travel and many of the presenters and vendors stayed at this offsite location. It was excellent. For those individuals seeking a more venturous location to stay, Ronald Stewart, MD, has housing right on the water. He’s an outstanding host and stays at the retreat lodge, fondly referred to as “the Annex,” which is always an adventure.

In the evenings there were musical events and the fire pit, which was lit until very late. There were beverages that kept participants engaged–or more engaged in the process, from what I was told. We held many outstanding debates surrounding the science of in- and out-of-hospital care. Humor was key to the entire conference. These folks know how to relax as well as learn. I do truly miss that as part of the process in the U.S. and beyond.

With the education of local frontline paramedics in mind, the Cape Breton Paramedic Conference has, since the first inaugural conference in 2013, consistently delivered an eclectic mix of global leaders in the field of prehospital care, local subject matter experts, unique workshops, inspirational stories and the entertainment and hospitality Cape Breton has become known for. It has attracted attendees from across North America and from as far abroad as the Middle East.

Ron Stewart, MD, speaks at the 2018 Cape Breton Paramedic Conference.

2019 and Beyond

As we enter our seventh year, we plan to attract our “regulars” from Cape Breton and Nova Scotia, and we hope to see some new faces from systems and educational institutions worldwide. For those planning to attend, you can expect the same cozy atmosphere our attendees have come to know and love, the breathtaking scenery of Cape Breton Island, leaders of paramedicine delivering cutting-edge scientific and clinical education in an intimate setting, and an increased social media and web presence.

Be sure to come early or stay after the conference so that you can travel around Cape Breton and see all the wonderful sites. Pick up a hitch hiker–I haven’t seen a hitch hiker in the U.S. for decades. I can’t say enough about this conference and the environment.

We look forward to seeing you this September and for many Septembers to come. This year’s keynote speaker will be Randolph Mantooth, known to many as Johnny Gage from the TV show Emergency!

Registration opens May 1st on the conference website. More information can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or via email.

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