Monthly Archives: July 2011

Quick Thoughts from Pinnacle EMS 2011

Good crowd this year of nearly 400 EMS leaders from around the country to share best practices on EMS leadership and performance.  Unfortunately, I arrived a little late yesterday but still managed to get involved in some of the roundtable discussions on “Key Questions for Critical Decisions” where attendees spent 30 minutes at a table discussing best practices on various topics before moving to another topic.  I spent most of my time at the Social Media table and learned that most EMS leaders here have a lot to learn about what social media is even about – let alone how to manage it.  The social media divide is huge!  As an example, just before I arrived here I saw a tweet that Wichita Fire blocked Facebook while the Toronto Police launched a new social media program on the same day.  Further evidence is that a disappointing number of participants are even “tweeting” or “checking-in” to FourSquare here.

The evening plenary last night was presented by Lisa Tofil, a partner at Holland & Knight law firm, who has been very actively involved in the “Field EMS” legislation and kicked things off will an old-school “Schoolhouse Rock” video on how a bill becomes a law.  Her message was that healthcare reform, while not necessarily implemented in its final form, is nevertheless here to stay and we need to look critically at its affect on EMS.  Increasingly, pre-hospital care is being integrated into the comprehensive healthcare system which is being pressured “down and out” from hospitals to ambulatory care agencies and even clinical outlets.  At the same time, the “fee-for-service” model most are currently accustomed to is transforming toward a “single-payer” model of which Medicad will become a much more significant payer source by 2019 as individual insurance policies migrate toward “exchanges”.  The inconsistencies highlighted by the 2007 Dartmouth Atlas have been driving a lot of the discussion in Washington and its implications will be profound for Field EMS agencies.  (BTW, this term of “Field EMS” is becoming an important distinguisher as pre-hospital medical care folds in with the acute care delivered at the hospital as well as the rehab after hospitalization becoming simply “patient-centered”  care, so a new identifier becomes necessary to describe the traditional role of EMS – so learn it and begin to use it!)  There was a great deal of talk about specific legislation and its impacts on Field EMS and while a draft Field EMS bill is likely to be ready today you should not expect it to be introduced until September.  While not perfect, the bill is significant in beginning a conversation advancing major change for EMS such as a national Bureau of EMS/Trauma under HSRA in order to  build clout within a broadening healthcare definition.  Lisa also stressed the importance of an “EMS Trust Fund” and quipped that it may be safer as a “tax return check-off box” than in the appropriations debate.  Her talk concluded with a challenge in the form a question to re-evaluate our own perceptions of the field of EMS.

This morning today began with a motivational presentation by Pinnacle organizer Jay Fitch on “Creating a Courageous EMS Workplace Culture” warning attendees that “life as we know it in EMS is changing” and stressed the necessary qualities to excel in the new environment.  Jay offered many specifics including judgement, authenticity, passion, partnership, preparation, and perseverance with examples for each including tips on hiring appropriate talent.  He concluded in saying that “we are not a family, but a team.”  And that not being a “little league” team, we need to promote “superstars in every position” and not view an EMS career as a “life sentence” but encouraging us that options abound for high-performing people.

While this conference is far from over, this is the tone so far and I look forward to hearing from collegaues on sessions they have attended and meeting new folks at the Tweet-up tonight at 8pm in the Hemisphere lounge.  If you can’t join us, watch for comments to this post adding up-to-date information on proceedings.


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Quick Thoughts from the Esri UC 2011

The Esri User Conference in San Diego each summer is the largest GIS event of the year and there was certainly no disappointment this week as the biggest crowd ever gathered for the first day plenary sessions. According to Jack Dangermond, founder and president, the plenary held over 14,000 people with more than 15,000 expected in the final total by the end of the week.  There were plenty of announcements made by Esri which were enthusiastically received even though many had been “leaked” during the weeks before.  Jack’s own famous (and lengthy) pre-conference Q&A provided hours of early study material as did The Road Ahead for ArcGIS article in the summer issue of ArcNews for those who wanted a preview of what we would hear today.

While it would be a monumental task to cover everything presented, the highlights I think that are appropriate for public safety agencies to consider are more manageable and most significantly are not necessarily technology based.  A major thought Jack drove hard was a discussion of “understanding understanding” or the role that GIS plays in making information understood.  It wasn’t all about new cloud-based services, but extending a practical concept of “one map”.  That is the creation and authoring of data, mashed together into “intelligent web maps” and disseminated for collaboration.  After all, GIS is not just about visualization, but powerful analytics and even the value of business management.  The focus of the morning was clearly functional – from an operational perspective rather than just pandering to the technologists.  While there was plenty of demonstration of specific new tools coming in version 10.1, the driving factor was definitely value and productivity.  Another interesting concept that was clear was the co-evolution of GIS with related technologies like 3D (specifically LiDAR or even “indoors” and visualization rendering), imagery, and social media (“crowdsourcing”) forming a practical platform for analysis, problem-solving, and prediction.

Most surprisingly was that the word “cloud” was not used much at all, however the evidence of the platform was clear in new managed service options coming available through ArcGIS Online which has become a true platform to simplify and help manage the elastic demand for “intelligent web maps” during disasters.  These Esri subscription services will soon be available through ArcGIS Online.  While some critics bristle at security concerns or a perceived lack of control, this option is increasingly interesting to many emergency managers especially as bandwidth-intensive GIS maps take a bigger role in sharing situational information in crisis management without administration hassles.  ArcGIS Explorer is also growing up with new capabilities to read services like KML and WMS as well as produce Microsoft PowerPoint-style presentations with even more interactive geographic story telling capabilities.  Additionally, ArcGIS Online is becoming time-enabled and even more timely in its ability to share layers from many diverse sources represented uniformly.  ArcGIS Online also is getting significant new basemap options such as oceans for marine studies and publication quality National Geographic cartography.

The Community Analyst is another little known secret application from Esri providing flexible tools for searching and summarizing demographic data.  A free 14-day trial of the application is available for evaluation.  Imagery will add many new powerful tools at 10.1 making it faster and more useful with options to measure 3D qualities similar to Pictometry.  And functionality from MapIt is now being repackaged as ArcGIS Server templates to integrate Microsoft SharePoint or IBM COGNOS.  Another popular announcement was native 64-bit support for ArcGIS Server.

Several application examples from the “Special Achievement in GIS” (SAG) award winners were quickly displayed and more lengthy reviews of applications from the City of Boston were also provided as examples of “footprints for us to follow.”  You can watch recorded videos of the plenary sessions  and more online.

If you were there yourself, what was your favorite memory?

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