Expo Recap from 34,000 Feet!

I’ve been doing some thinking over the last couple of days about how I wanted to share my experiences at EMS Expo 2010 with everyone. Do I take it hour by hour and class by class? Do I just give a brief overview? All of the bloggers that I spent time with in Dallas had different solutions. Well, I think I’ve found something that is going to work best for me.

I’ve decided to break my experiences at EMS Expo 2010 in Dallas into three categories: The Events, The Education, and The People.

The Events

Needless to say, there were plenty of these, both of the official and the unofficial nature. If you read the Blog last week, you’ve already seen what we did on Tuesday night for what is now known as “Expo Eve.” Wednesday was just as much fun. After doing a Podcast with the Generation Medicine team, and finishing up the day with a couple of classes, it was off to the JEMS Blogger Meetup at the Rooftop bar of the Gator Croc and Roc.

The food was good, and the conversation was even better. I was able to meet many influential people like AJ Heightman, Editor-in-Chief of JEMS, and Rick Kendrick, the inventor of the Kendrick Extrication Device or KED for short. Anyone who has been through EMT or Paramedic school has used this great piece of equipment, and most likely has had to test out on it as part of their certification. Rick had a lot to say about his product, and at one point was holding court with seven or eight of us surrounding him and listening intently, as he described concepts like Pounds per Square Inch and padding.

From there, it was off to the One Eyed Penguin for a Darts Tournament. I’ll spare you the messy details of the match, and just tell you that Kyle David Bates and I, better known as Team First Few Moments, beat Team EMS Garage, Chris Montera and Annie Robinson. Lots of beer was had, and lots of great conversations and laughs were shared.

Thursday morning marked what might have been the highlight of my trip to Dallas. Details of this are coming in a blog later this week, but lets just say that April Saling, also known as Epi_Junky from Pink, Warm, and Dry spent two hours with one of the people that we admire most in the field of EMS.

That afternoon, I was back behind the mic with Kyle David Bates, Brad Buck, Jason Thompson and Rick Kendrick for an episode of First Few Moments. The topic of choice was “Is Assessment Dead?” We spent quite a bit of time tackling this one, and then turned to another information session on the KED and the KODE (Kendrick’s Other Device for Extrication) which is an improved model of the KED. All in all, it was a very good podcast, and I urge everyone to head over and take a listen to it.

Thursday night was the NAEMT Lonestar BBQ at Eddie Deens. It was proof positive as someone tweeted that night that Texas can’t do things small. This place was huge. It was an all you can eat buffet complete with live music and a bull.

We stuck around until about 9pm and then headed back to the hotel, and got ourselves a private room at the bar. We spent the rest of our night drinking and singing Karaoke. We proved, with the exception of Natalie, Ms Paramedic, that most of us would probably not make the final 12 on American Idol, but more fun and laughs were had by all.

Friday morning, it seemed a lot of us slept in. I was able to make it to the Convention Center in time to join Justin Schorr and Ted Setla one last time at the podcasting table for an episode of The Happy Hour on the Gen Med Show. We covered the Future of EMS. It was a great discussion that lasted about a half hour before the original hosts Jeramiah Bush and Natalie Quebuedoux took their show back, and finished up with Steve Whitehead of the EMT Spot.

We were forced to say some goodbyes Friday afternoon, but there were about a dozen of us left, so we decided to head back down to Market St in Dallas for a sit down dinner at the Spaghetti Warehouse. I’m ashamed to call myself a college football fan because I completely forgot that this weekend was the Red River Shootout, which is considered by many to be the game of the year. It pits the University of Texas against the Oklahoma Sooners. Market Street was blocked off at both ends and turned into a pedestrian-only area. Everywhere you turned there were college football fans. The atmosphere was intense. The trash talking, and fight song singing was seen at every turn, with Red Shirted people taunting Orange Shirted people who were giving it back just as feverously.

We were neutral. We were Switzerland.

After dinner, the rest of us gradually said goodbye, and went back to our hotels. Many of us left Saturday morning.

All in all, the events were great. The Podcasting was the highlight for me. I’m still certainly a novice. I’m slowly getting comfortable in my Podcasting Skin but I hope to someday be able to articulate my ideas as well as folks like Chris Montera, Kyle David Bates, Justin Schorr, and the Gen Med Team.

The Education

I was able to attend some great classes. I caught Skip Kirkwood as a speaker twice, first in a class about EMS Career Ladders, and later in one about Crisis Communications, which was essentially a Public Information Officer class. I was able to make it to another couple of sessions, but Mic Gunderson’s class about Six Sigma in the EMS and Fire industries was a highlight for me.

There were lots of classes being offered on the Exhibit Floor as well. Both Physio Control and Zoll had frequent guest speakers at their booths about 12 leads, capnography and future innovations in EMS. They had the Simlab up and running and booths like Bound Tree were running “mock calls” to demo their products.

The thing that I was really impressed with was the after hours education. Everyone who I was with took something home from them that wasn’t taught with a Power Point or by someone carrying a microphone. As I previously mentioned, I got to listen to Rick Kendrick describe the use for his KED while we each had a beer in our hand. We also stuck around the Lonestar BBQ a little while longer, because Brad Buck and Kyle David Bates were engaged in a conversation with the famous Dr. Wesley.

Everyone had something to contribute. Everyone there was a student and a teacher.

The People

I saved the best for last. I could sit here and just recite a lengthy list of everyone I got to spend time with, and their impact on me, but it’s easier to just say that the folks at EMS Expo 2010 were some of the most amazing people I’ve ever encountered. Everyone was very down to earth and approachable. It made for a relaxed, enjoyable atmosphere. I’ll give you a few little samples of what I experienced, but just keep in mind that this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.

Tuesday night, I got to watch our group grow and grow. RJ Stine and I had begun what started out as a small meetup, and before we knew it, it grew exponentially. There were only two people there that I had previously met in person, but before we knew it, we were surrounded by 40 people who quickly became friends. There were no small cliques. Everyone did things together. We moved in packs. Case in point, the last night that we were there, everyone who was left made dinner, and we were all able to spend one more evening together. It was hard to say goodbye, but we made the best of it.

I got to ride a bus back to the Hotel on Thursday night with Steve Whitehead. He asked me one of the simplest, and most thought provoking questions I’ve ever been asked. “What are you here for? What’s your contribution?” He wasn’t calling me out on anything; he was just making me think about what I bring to the table. He’s a very energetic and passionate person, and clearly tries to bring the best out of everyone he encounters. I was pretty happy with my on the spot answer, but I feel another blog post coming about that one too.

I also spent most of my time wandering around Expo with Brad Buck, RJ Stine, April Saling, and Mr. and Mrs. JustMyBlog, Leanne and her husband Henry. The interesting piece of this was prior to Tuesday night, I had never met any of them in person before. Without them, I dont think I would have had the experience I had.

Now, here I sit at 34,000 feet, somewhere over the Carolinas flying home to New England and typing this blog post. This week in Dallas was life changing for me. I met some great people, and I learned some important lessons. Bonds were made, and I don’t think they will ever be broken. We are already starting to plan for Expo 2011 and EMS Today in March.

I can’t wait to see everyone again. I want to create new memories, and go on new adventures. Thanks to everyone who is sharing this journey through my blog, and those that I was lucky enough to spend time with at Expo. We are still in the beginning stages of something huge, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.