Skip to main content

Editors' Expressions: My Deepest Gratitude to EMS Educators

“Editors’ Expressions” is a recurring feature in which the EMS World editorial staff ruminates on current news, noteworthy events and everyday happenings with relevance to healthcare and EMS delivery. Feel free to react in the comment box below or e-mail

EMS World Expo has gone virtual; have you heard?

We are one week away from virtual EMS World Expo 2020. We made the decision in June, and now, it’s finally here. We’ve been ensconced in the preparatory work, striving to bring you the best experience we can. 

Amidst the last-minute prep that inevitably comes with a big event (in-person or online, let’s face it), I try to take some breaks from the Zoom and my phone to reflect on the larger picture. With the 20/20 vision I’ll probably have for most of 2020, I am sad about some things and often wish for different circumstances. But there are some definite wins here.

The No. 1 most important awesome thing I want to shout from the rooftops to the world: EMS is amazing. They prioritize education and learning. Even before the pandemic, I ran around trumpeting the virtues of EMS providers. Most people are tired of me saying EMS providers are the nicest people on the planet—the most giving, generous, selfless. I can’t say it enough. Here I am, nagging and bugging and reminding and asking, during a pandemic, and EMS comes through (mostly), every time. More on that later.

So while this has been a big lift, with lots of novel environments where the EMS World team must quickly pivot to succeed, it has also been really rewarding. Every day we discover something new, and there is this exciting-but-scary “a-ha” moment where someone says “I hadn’t thought of that!” How often does that happen in your working life? If you’ve been in your current position for a while, novelty may not be a daily occurrence. Once we confront the challenge, we work together to try to conquer it.

In fact, I feel pretty confident EMS World could share with the next guy who goes virtual a lot of lessons learned. I never anticipated I’d become relatively adept at this skill of planning and executing a virtual event. I’m not starting a how-to-run-virtual-conferences consulting company anytime soon, because I’d like to pretend that no one, ever, in our lifetime, will need this skill again. Can we agree, please?

The overwhelming facts: EMS World Expo will feature more than 120 speakers who pretty much didn’t complain every time we sent them a new request. And there were many.

Learn new technology you’ve never had to use before? Okay.

Plan your content with other speakers you’ve never met before? Awkward, but sure. 

Help market your session and the conference by appearing on Facebook Live? Happy to.

Train with our virtual platform company so you know how to moderate an online session? Done. 

Write an article for the magazine or website to help promote your session? Tell me the deadline.

Accommodate a last-minute plea for content because of an unanticipated change? On it!

Hey, remember how I said we could do that thing? I was wrong. I understand, I’ve got you.

Oops, that didn’t turn out so good… Can you please redo what you’ve already spent hours on? Sigh… OK, I will—it’s for a good cause.

These yesses are often accompanied by grace and kindness. Everyone is asking, “How are you doing?” My heart swells each time this happens. Sure, it is not all wine and roses, and we have struggled with compliance, deadlines, communication, and deadlines. Mostly deadlines. But that’s not new to our world. Especially now, it’d be unrealistic to expect, in a pandemic, that our EMTs, paramedics, students, critical care providers, nurses, community paramedics, medical directors, managers, educators, and chiefs won’t end up procrastinating just a little bit.

So hey, EMS community: Can I please thank all of you? It doesn’t matter if you’re not involved with EMS World Expo; you still deserve thanks. You are out there taking care of people, you are supporting your EMS peeps, accepting extra work, being reliable and trustworthy, as usual. And I know for a fact that there is a butterfly effect on the Expo speakers because they also know they can rely on you when they need help. In spite of it all, we keep our eye on the prize of high-quality education.

Because that’s what EMS is all about.

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

Back to Top