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The EMS Vision in Atlanta - EMS World EXPO 2021

This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.

The EMS World EXPO 2021 in Atlanta, Ga completed five days of in-person (two pre-conference, and three days of learning sessions) coupled with three days of VIRTUAL access. This hybrid version was a first after last year's necessity of holding only a virtual event due to COVID. The EMS World EXPO 2021 was held from October 4th through 8th.

Attending the virtual conference (October 6, 7, and 8) was, at first, a tad disappointing as not all conference sessions were available online, and I would have liked to watch the Opening Ceremonies. But for those who were unable to make the trip to Georgia, because of time or money, the virtual cost of $229 (starting) was significantly less than the in-person fee of (up-to) $595. While the in-person networking may be preferred by the masses, anyone with internet connection could participate at home or at work.

There were 40 virtual classes scheduled (although there was at least one that had technical difficulty and couldn't be aired) with offerings in the ALS, BLS, Educator, and Operations/Management tracks. After attending an online session all you had to do was fill out a form to receive continuing education credits towards your certification. All virtual attendees also have complimentary access to EMS World Expo On-Demand for a full year, so it is easy to re-watch a video, or better yet, to watch you didn't have a chance to see it "Live".

Each of the sessions I got to sit in on were presented beautifully and the presenters really "spoke to the camera"; it was surprising when I saw a few photos from friends who had attended in person and noticed how big the live audiences were in each room. Just a few of the sessions that I was able to watch were "EMS in the Electronic Era: The San Diego Experience", "The Dark Humor of Emergency Care: Unprofessional Behavior or Therapeutic Coping Mechanism?", and "Hindsight is 20/40: Musings About the Past and Future of EMS". Photos included were all screen shots and exactly what virtual attendees could see; there was a live chat available during all the sessions.

My personal favorite session was "The Dark Humor of Emergency Care", the presenters Nyssa Hattaway and Lisa Fountain really "got it" — healthcare providers, particularly critical care and emergency healthcare providers, are infamous for having a dark sense of humor. As a retired EMT of almost 30 years, it was easy for me to relate to their examples, their explanations of the stress behind comments, and especially their cautions about knowing your audience.

In addition to the online sessions, there were also at least ten available podcasts on topics such as "Improving Your Assessment", "Paramedic beyond EMS", and, interestingly, "Online vs. In Person Education". I really liked the " Online vs. In Person Education" with Bob Matoba especially as I was listening to the online aspect of this EMS World EXPO. A major difference that was pointed out in this podcast was the difficulty in teaching hands-on techniques through a virtual platform where the instructor could not personally assess the student's performance. You can still catch some of the podcasts (even if you did not attend) at

After the conference ended, I did find that both the EMS World EXPO 2021 Opening Ceremonies and Keynote, as well as the Wrap-Up videos were posted to Facebook, which made me very happy to see. To watch a few event videos from the EXPO, you can go to their Facebook page at Seeing some of what the EXPO is about, you might just decide to attend next year!

The EMS World EXPO 2022 will be held next year in Orlando, Florida on October 10 to 14, 2022. While in-person attendance offers many more opportunities such as networking, agency ride-alongs, hands-on sessions and training, and more, but I am hoping that EMS World will make the hybrid offering standard as well in future conferences. This was a wonderful opportunity to further education and stay on top of the latest advancements and changes in our Emergency Response field.

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