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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Old Friends, New Friends, and Transitions

Coming out to Baltimore, MD, this weekend was a bittersweet occasion for me.  I had plans to come out with a team of paramedics and EMT's from our Department to compete in the JEMS Games.  Unfortunately, the plans for the team to compete could not come to fruition at the last minute.  Compounding the situation was the fact that I had already bought my plane tickets for EMS Today and something sad had been weighing on my mind since Monday, earlier this week.  The thought of just staying home crossed my mind.  However, I am glad that I came out because I got to see an old friend with whom I used to work with back in San Francisco.  It was always a joy to come to work and see him because he had such a positive attitude and was an uplifting person who was very supportive of our mission working as paramedics in San Francisco.

It was also energizing to  meet a group of young men and women that I think are on the cusp of, if not having already moved the future of EMS ahead many leaps and bounds through the power of social media.  Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, podcasts like the EMS Garage, and the whole medium is a very powerful tool in the hands of these young professionals.   I remember reading nationally syndicated EMS authors and columnists and they would pontificate about one issue or another.  While back in our home jurisdictions, we would have had the same discussion and conversation and either suffered under the dilemma or found our homegrown solution to the problem.  Many of the finest young minds in my EMS generation could never get heard because they weren't in the right geopolitical location or in the right EMS club to find a national publication or conference circuit to share their gifts.

Well,  JEMS, EMS Magazine, Rescue 911 and everyone else in the comfortable national EMS Scene, prepare to be rocked with force of a revolution that rivals that in the descendants of the Persian Empire.  These young minds are out and growing and from the looks of the growth or non growth of JEMS Connect, EMS United,, and others, I don't think the people are going to be satisfied with just hearing from someone just because they have written a textbook, speak regularly at a national conference, or have a lot of alphabet soup initials behind their names.  Quiet and unassuming professionals like a firefighter paramedic from San Francisco and a paramedic from the United Kingdom helped with the creative genius of a paramedic/filmmaker in the private ambulance sector have set EMS Communications on a national and international arena on its ears.

Getting to meet all these new and bright minds with cool names after their @ symbols was heartwarming for me because I have seen the future of my profession and the future is bright.  They are not tolerant of chicanery, flattery, or cow chips when they blog and write, they have a message to share and they tend to tell the truth in a plain, unvarnished manner and format.  Many of them have insights into the problems of our profession that rival those of the alphabet soup professionals who have gotten nice initials like EFO, PhD, CMOD, CFOD, JD, MEd, MA, MS, MPA, MBA, M (whatever).  It might happen one day that we won't need to buy EMS management textbooks any more, just type a question in to the EMS Cloud Computing network and someone will have an answer for you.  I'm daft you say?  Well, maybe, but who would have thought that a small internet event  list started by San Franciscan, Craig Newmark in 1995 would have decimated the viability of brick and mortar print media by killing classified ad revenue.  I for one am going to pay attention to the new clarion call.

The reason for my bittersweet reaction this week was the juxtaposition of meeting all these new friends and trying to cope with the loss of a good friend.  My friend, Jack Grogan, whom I respected greatly, died last Sunday night of a cardiac arrest coming home to his family in San Jose, CA.  He arrested at the airport and was the recipient of the highest level of pre-hospital care.  Bystander CPR, AED readily in place, rapid arrival of ALS.  In my mind, he should not have gone, San Jose did everything right and yet he was not able to be resuscitated.  What makes it so ironic is the fact that Jack had a Sudden Cardiac Arrest many years ago on an airplane and was successfully revived.  Jack was a passionate and tireless volunteer for the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association as a co-Founder and member of their Board of Directors.  Jack worked hard with the San Jose Fire Department to get San Jose recognized as a Heart Safe City.  He came out to San Francisco last year in August of 2009 to help the San Francisco Fire Department and SFGH Base Hospital with a symposium for the paramedics and EMS community to learn about best practices in cardiac arrest management and improving survival in the field and in the hospital.  Jack and his wife Anita brought out many survivors to share their experiences with the many paramedics and nurses attending the symposium.

I could go on for many pages of the accomplished life that Jack led but please take the time to read his obituary here:  John "Jack" Grogan's Obituary in the San Jose Mercury News

As much as Jack was a hero for dedicating his life to the service of others, I have a plea for my new friends that I met his weekend to dedicate their lives with a new mission in his memory.  Please use your power to share Jack's story far and wide.  Share the mission that Jack was passionate about to make all our communities the best that they can be in improving cardiac arrest survival.  Thank you for reading. 



  1. Seb,

    It was a pleasure to meet you at the EMS Today show last weekend. I hope it will be the first of many such meetings. I need to get you on the MedicCast again after you initial appearance during our "Trauma Premier" MedicCast Live segment.

    Keep in touch and let me know how the west coast EMS community is getting things done.

  2. Hey Seb, long time, no blog.

    Don't give up, feller.