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Five Questions With: Clemens Kaltenberger on EMS in Austria

EMS in Austria is a century-old service that's undergoing significant changes today. The Austrian Paramedic Association was relaunched in 2015 to provide EMTs and paramedics a representative body, and the association has announced a new award, the Camillo Award, to recognize outstanding performance in the prehospital setting. EMS World spoke with the association's vice president Clemens Kaltenberger to learn more.

EMS World: Can you offer a brief history and background of the Austrian Paramedic Association?

Kaltenberger: The Austrian Paramedic Association was founded in 2008 and relaunched in 2015 with a new team, new vision, and new branding. From the beginning the aim has been to give EMTs and paramedics in Austria a voice. We offer everyone in the prehospital setting space for discussions, exchange, networking, and thinking outside the box.

What is your role and primary responsibilities for the association? 

I am vice president of the association and responsible for all projects, activities, and networking. The development of the association into a strong and publicly recognized organization is one of my chief aims. Right now my major responsibility is to manage the Camillo Award, which recognizes outstanding performance for quality in the prehospital setting. I also organize and host our “think tanks,” our lecture series on medical issues and challenges concerning the role of EMTs in our system. This is all on a voluntary basis.

What is your current EMS position, and what are your primary responsibilities? 

In my bread-and-butter job, I am an EMT paramedic in Linz with Austria’s largest emergency ambulance provider. I head the organization’s educational programs and ambulance services for big events in my county and develop curricula and course designs for continuing education. I also work with EMTs from the police forces and was involved in a development program for first responders in Serbia. Furthermore, I do intensive care transports in our region.

Can you tell us a bit about the new award—how the idea came about, submission and judging criteria, etc.?

In Austria EMTs neither have proper representation nor a union or lobby. By initiating the award we want to shed light on the important work EMS providers do for the community every day and make their concerns heard by decision-makers. The idea resonated immediately with our partners and supporters. The award is cohosted by the president of the Austrian Parliament.

The Camillo Award is a special distinction for very dedicated providers from all EMS services as well as the armed forces. It is about honoring outstanding performances in improving the quality of EMS, because we care about the value of human life. EMTs and educators are nominated by their peers and will be judged by a jury of 12 renowned experts from service providers and sponsoring partners. Criteria include extraordinary deeds, original projects, and special commitment. Nominees are role models for their peers and contribute to the qualitative improvement and further development of the ambulance service in Austria. They have a positive and appreciative attitude toward patients, colleagues, and other health professionals, as well as the community, and do an outstanding job.

Anything else our readers should know about the association and award? 

The Austrian Paramedic Association focuses on three main goals:

  • Professional training and promotion, by offering evidence-based continuing education. We are the Austrian partner of NAEMT and offer courses like PHTLS, AMLS, EPC, and TECC.
  • Networking, by organizing cross-organizational interaction of all people working in the field of emergency medicine.
  • Building awareness, by communicating the needs of a modern patient-oriented rescue service.

Jonathan Bassett, MA, NREMT, is editorial director at EMS World. Reach him at 

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