On the Shoulders of Giants

As we go about our routine business each shift, it can be easy to forget that we are involved in a field of healthcare that is still relatively young. Our history as a unique discipline has only recently been documented through the efforts of  the National EMS Museum, which is itself just in its infancy. It is also interesting to me to that many current practitioners still remember using equipment that is featured as historic innovations in the museum’s new mobile app. Additionally, the television show that inspired many of us to enter the field of emergency paramedicine, called Emergency!, which lasted seven seasons starting in 1972, is still available in reruns on antenna television.medgiants

The unfortunate side of all of this recent history is that some of the pioneers who were instrumental in forming our field are passing away. Just last month, Dr. Walter Graf, a cardiologist who founded the Daniel Freeman paramedic training program in Los Angeles and personally outfitted a “mobile critical care unit” in a 1969 Chevy van, died at the age of 98.

However, there is also a positive aspect of our current period of growth and development. That fortunate side is that we still have instrumental players with us that can, and should, be recognized for their contributions. These are the folks who can probably quote Sir Isaac Newtown in saying that, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” These men and women are transforming our work to include the scheduling of preemptive visits known as Community Paramedicine, or Mobile Integrated Healthcare. They are introducing new protocols and tools to prevent further injury to our patients and recognizing the extent of medical conditions even earlier during our interventions. They are working toward alternate endpoints or definitive treatments in the prehospital setting. They will be recognized with awards such as the  EMS 10: Innovators in EMS or with the prestigious James O. Page Award at the EMS Today conference in Baltimore early next year. But who are they? Well, that is where you can have an impact. Nominations are open through the end of this month for all of these awards and you can play a role in ensuring that these innovators are properly recognized by sending their stories to the nominating committees. This is your chance to help make history and recognize those who are making our future a reality.

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