Johnson City, TN

Johnson City Responds to EMS Week

John M. Dabbs

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EMS Transfers a patient for careWCJCEMS/Facebook

This week celebrates National EMS Week in the United States. In the State of Tennessee, the Governor usually designates Rescue Squad Week to coincide with EMS Week. Most of the active rescue squads in the state provide Emergency Medical Service besides rescue.

Celebrating EMS

As communities around the country prepare to celebrate the contributions made by their own EMS agencies, many go unrecognized. In Northeast Tennessee, most of the ambulance services and rescue squads will pay homage to their own personnel. Many of the agencies will see the EMTs and paramedics receive a good meal or two bought by their agency.

Ballad Health and its predecessor companies normally provide lunches, a golf-tournament, and picnics in recognition of the important role EMS providers play in patient care. Many people do not recognize the schooling and expertise required of EMTs and paramedics in the modern age.

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EMS Swiftwater Rescue TrainingWCJCEMS/Facebook

In the past 20 years alone, EMS agencies have expanded on the EKGs, IVs, Intubations, and medications they administer. It's not uncommon for paramedics to run and interpret 12-lead EKGs, place patients on C-Pap, start intraosseous Infusions, use pacemakers during cardiac events. EMS providers are providing more acute-level emergency care in the field than most emergency rooms did 30 years ago.

Johnson City prepared for the onslaught

Washington County-Johnson City EMS officials will hold their 25th annual EMS Conference at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Convention Center on Springbrook Drive in Johnson City. Washington County-Johnson City EMS will host the "Northeast Tennessee Emergency Medical & Rescue Conference" this Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

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September 2019 ConferenceNortheast Tennessee Emergency Medical & Rescue Conference/Facebook

The regional conference, normally held in the fall, was moved to EMS Week this year. The move results from COVID-19 forcing the 2020 cancellation. With mask mandates all but gone in the Johnson City area, we expect many attendees. Vendors and sponsors of the event will be on site to show the latest supplies, equipment, and techniques available to responders.

The regional event normally draws over 200 emergency responders from the Eastern part of Tennessee, Western North Carolina, and Southwest Virginia. Conference Coordinator, Nikki Lewin, says it isn't uncommon for attendees to come from Kentucky, George, and Florida.

The Holiday Inn will house the conference and its attendees as usual. The recent renovations have added to the atmosphere and staff will perform their due diligence to help things run smoothly.

Guest speakers

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Dr. William BassDr. William Bass/Wikipedia Commons

Dr. Bill Bass of the U.T. "Body Farm" will be a featured speaker this year. He routinely draws a large crowd and an almost cult-like following. We expect he'll have several books he's written and co-authored on hand for sale.

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Chief Ken Bouvier, PM - at Northeast Tennessee conferenceJohn Dabbs/Photographer

Recently retired New Orleans EMS Chief, and one star of A&E's "Night Watch", Ken Bouvier will also be a keynote speaker. Bouvier will regale attendees with words and wisdom from lessons learned at New Orleans EMS. Bouvier will speak on incidents involving school buses, and possibly airplane crashes. His New Orleans charm and sense of humor keep him in high demand on the speaker circuit.

Other speakers include local doctors and emergency responders with expertise in emergency work. The Wednesday class is a pre-conference session dedicated to pediatric emergency care. Speakers from Med-Trans/ H.E.A.R.T. (formerly known as Wings Air Rescue) will provide updates and lessons on the latest trends in caring for pediatric patients.

History of EMS Week

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) helped to establish EMS Week when President Gerald Ford declared November 3–10, 1974 as the first “National Emergency Medical Services Week.” This annual observance continued for four more years and re-instituted by ACEP in 1982. Around this time it moved the observance of EMS Week to September. In 1992 EMS Week moved to the 3rd week in May. They made the move to separate EMS Week from Fire Prevention week in October. The rationale for the move was most fire and EMS services felt having the two events back to back hurt the effectiveness of each program so they moved EMS Week to May.

ACEP began collecting and distributing ideas and information for EMS Week in the early 1980s. Professionally printed and prepared they developed EMS Week Planning kits starting in the late 1980s. Today 25,000 they distribute EMS Week Planning Guides free to EMS services, fire departments, rescue squads, volunteer groups, and emergency departments across the country. The 48 page guide contains ideas for local EMS Week activities and highlights EMS Week programs held by EMS services during the previous year.

Do your part

We hope you'll join us this week and do your part. If you see an EMS vehicle, ambulance, paramedic or EMT - give them a thumbs up and thank them for all they do. They've been right in the thick of things during this pandemic - just like everyone working in nursing homes and hospitals. Emergencies don't get put on hold because there's a pandemic.

My appreciation goes out too all of the men and women who put on the uniform - stamping out disease and saving lives every day.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Johnson City, TN
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