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Editorial: The Virtual Virtues of EMS World Expo 2020

Education as we know it has changed forever.

In-person gatherings are a thing of the past. 

This is our new normal.

All right, now that I’ve met the journalistic requirements for “pandemic-framing statements,” I can tout the very big virtues of the 2020 Virtual EMS World Expo.

In the past maybe you had to clear your calendar from Sept. 14–18. Now I bet you have no big trips booked or weddings to attend that could conflict with participating at a virtual EMS World Expo.

Travel’s on hold, so there’s no need to spend money on flights or hotels. We’re staying safe at home, lowering the risk of infection and looking after our communities by making wise decisions about physical distancing and mask-wearing. EMS providers are still taking care of patients, doing what we do best, but definitely missing social interactions.

That’s why you must attend Virtual EMS World Expo. For five days you will soak up high-quality education, network online with old friends and make new ones, and visit exhibitors and check out their latest products—all from the comfort of your home or office (pants optional) or on your mobile device from your ambulance (pants required).

The virtual virtues are many:

  • Numerous one-hour sessions to choose from each day across our standard tracks of ALS, BLS, Critical Care, MIH/CP, Leadership/Operations/Management, Special Populations, and Educator; 
  • Multiple speakers presenting short talks on the same topic to keep learning engaging and full of variety;
  • Exciting new products from innovative companies in the EMS World Expo exhibit hall, where you can chat virtually with reps or book future appointments;
  • A competition among your peers called “Earning While Learning”: Sign up as an individual or team to stay engaged, take advantage of all the Expo features, and win prizes;
  • No more missing out on courses: They will be available for a year as “Expo On Demand!” (Watching them during Expo gets you live CAPCE credit, while On Demand courses are categorized as online education.) 

Be sure to join us on Sept. 16 as our favorite ophthalmologist, the Internet’s infamous Dr. Glaucomflecken, kicks off the conference with the keynote address. He’ll tell you about surviving a sudden cardiac arrest while also making you laugh a lot. 

Need a cognitive break? We have fun activities planned like video contests, DJ dance parties, networking opportunities with fellow attendees, even chair yoga, mindfulness/meditation, and virtual happy hours.

So let’s be thankful for the benefits of a virtual conference: 

  • No more awkward “how-do-I-get-out-of-the-middle-of-the-row-without-bothering-everyone?” moments—just click your mouse! 
  • You have all the space you need from the comfort of your desk, bed, couch, hammock, or firehouse lounger. 
  • I promise your feet won’t hurt. Say good-bye to that tactic of searching out the booth with the thickest carpet.
  • The spend has been greatly reduced—it’s no longer outside your budget.
  • Sign on from Bucharest or Baltimore, Anchorage or Australia and see what’s out there in the world of EMS!

Let’s join together as a community of learners, eager to network digitally so we stay connected to each other. It matters more now than ever. 

Hopefully we’ll see each other next Oct. 4–8 in Atlanta at EMS World Expo 2021 to shake hands, high-five, fist-bump, and give great big hugs. Please wear your pants.  

Hilary Gates, MAEd, NRP, is the senior editorial and program director for EMS World. Reach her at 


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