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Editors' Expressions: Nothing 'Virtual' About It

"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

“The most engaging EMS World Expo ever.” When I received an e-mail with this subject line, I was immediately alarmed that the sender was being facetious or critical. But after reading through the entire message and following up with the sender, I was pleased to learn he was providing honest and complimentary feedback. He reported that his educational experience at EMS World Expo Virtual was more immersive than it had been at previous EMS conferences he'd attended.

When we made the decision to take EMS World Expo 2020 digital, we knew there would be many hurdles to leap to provide the best digital experience to our EMS provider audience. To this end, we made several changes to the layout of the program—among them, reducing the length of each presentation and running a live question and answer forum alongside (literally) each presentation and session. It was this functionality to which the attendee was referring in his e-mail.

For those not able to attend EMS World Expo Virtual 2020, each session consisted of one or more presentations (usually at least 2–4 presentations), followed by a live Q&A session with the presenters, all over an hour’s time. In order to participate and engage, an attendee did not need to walk up to the microphone in the middle of a room. No one needed to wait until after the session ended to approach the presenters to ask a question. Most importantly, most people who prefer to do neither of these now had a way to interact directly with the presenters on a real-time basis. It's clear that bi-directional learning is superior to passive learning or, as I often refer to it, “death by PowerPoint.”

Conversing with thought leaders in EMS, such as the caliber who present at EMS World Expo, is a real advantage of this format. Most EMS providers do not have regular access to these speakers, so part of our role was to provide that access—to provide the platform for engagement in the most user-friendly and real-time basis as possible. Presenters could “chat” with attendees throughout the session answering questions, and then discuss other questions in a more organized way during the time we designated for Q&A as part of every session.

We hope those of you who attended EMS World Expo 2020, like the attendee who took the time to reach out to me, feel similarly and had a good experience over the course of the five-day event. The content is available on-demand at so we hope you’ll go back to the site and watch sessions you did not have a chance to see in real time. For those unable to attend EMS World Expo, we’re offering the program exclusively on-demand, so go check that out as well.

As always I appreciate hearing feedback from our attendees and viewers so please reach out to me with any comments and feedback at

We are committed to taking lessons we learned from this year’s digital event and incorporating them to the already strong educational event we provide in person. We look forward to seeing you all in Atlanta October 4–8, 2021 at EMS World Expo 2021.

Stay healthy and stay safe.

Joshua D. Hartman, MBA, NRP, is senior vice president of the Cardiovascular and Public Safety divisions at HMP, the parent company of EMS World.


Submitted on 10/08/2020

Nice article Josh.   We are all proud of EXPO and the value for attendees and exhibitors alike.

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