Monthly Archives: June 2013

Quick Thoughts from NENA 2013

Perhaps this post would be more aptly entitled “Delayed Thoughts” rather than my traditional “Quick Thoughts” title as the NENA conference I am reviewing ended a week ago. To make matters worse, my attendance was sporadic due to the fact it was held in Charlotte close enough to my home that I didn’t spend all my time (or attention) there. While I enjoyed it, I’m sure I got a very different feel for the week and admit that I missed some things (like the special screening of the movie “The Call” starring Halle Berry which benefited the Friends of 9-1-1 foundation), so I will begin with the official Conference Wrap-Up summary link direct from NENA.

Okay, now that you know what really happened, here is my take. The Monday plenary address started with the idea that the key to success – whether in the PSAP, comm center, or even in the field – is that we don’t need to be an organization composed strictly of the smartest people or even those who are always the best at what they do. The most important ingredient for success is building a team that supports each other. When we can achieve this level of cooperation, we can do more than any of the stars employed at other organizations could do by themselves. This was an encouraging thought, especially to those organizations who cannot always attract the most outstanding talent. The idea really works for me because I know that public safety is definitely a “team sport!” Later that morning, once the exhibit hall opened, I felt the rush of excitement to learn about the latest technologies and offerings (and of course the mad dash to get their bingo cards punched.)

Tuesday had an interesting start. The keynote was delivered by Marlee Matlin and I felt as if I was the only person not familiar with her work as a Hollywood actress or her activism for Next Generation 9-1-1. I was even more surprised when her “talk” was entirely done in sign language with a male interpreter for her voice. It turns out that Marlee is an advocate of NG911 because she is deaf and cannot currently reach traditional 9-1-1. It was probably the most poignant message I have heard in a while. The only thing that made the day even more special for me was to have my friend Mark Fletcher of the Avaya Podcast Network do a podcast with me (you can listen to it here.)

The highlight of my Wednesday was hearing from Jason Dorsey a “PowerPoint-free” speaker who loves engaging audiences and spewing facts about the Millennial generation and who bills himself as the “Gen Y Guy.” I thought I understood the new generation recently coming of age and entering the workforce (and subsequently discounting their motivations and abilities.) But I now have a much better appreciation of who they really represent and how they can strengthen the team concepts I bought in to on Monday. This was an appropriate closing thought as it brought the entire conference full circle for me while ultimately leaving me in a much different place than where I started the week. I hope I can make Nashville next year!

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A Short Take on Long Boards

The National Association of EMS Physicians and the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma have made their Position Statementon spinal immobilization for EMS publicly available. So, now what?

It is hard to argue with their findings:

  • Long backboards are commonly used to attempt to provide rigid spinal immobilization among emergency medical services (EMS) trauma patients. However, the benefit of long backboards is largely unproven.
  • The long backboard can induce pain, patient agitation, and respiratory compromise. Further, the long backboard can decrease tissue perfusion at pressure points, leading to the development of pressure ulcers.
  • Utilization of backboards for spinal immobilization during transport should be judicious, so that the potential benefits outweigh the risks.

I know that I have been torn in my own mind while strapping an octogenarian to a rigid long backboard when the only indication for such treatment was that she slipped on the floor of a rest home. Neurologically she may appear completely intact with a normal level of consciousness (GCS of 15), no complaints of numbness, lacking any spinal deformation or distraction injury. However, our protocols say she must be strapped to a rigid device without padding and subjected not only to the jolts of our handling, but every bump of a threshold as the stretcher is wheeled outside and then she continues to suffer the uneven pavement between theEmeritus Senior Living facility and the hospital. If she wasn’t sore due to the fall, she will definitely feel it by the time she is seen by a physician. I know I am protecting myself from any potential injury lawsuit, but am I really protecting my patient?

The Prehospital Emergency Care statement suggests criteria where use of a long backboard would not be indicated. Part of that definition includes the following recommendation: Continue reading


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