In the last Editors’ Expressions blog, my colleague Jon Bassett shared what EMS World web traffic determined were our 10 most popular stories of 2020. The most-clicked-on list was naturally heavy on COVID-19, with George Floyd and ketamine also unsurprising topics of interest.
All good and important stuff. But while I know we’re all eager to put that just-passed circus fire of a year behind us and get on with however 2021 will be worse, I’d like to highlight a little more of EMS World’s best 2020 content before we turn that last smoldering page.
These 10 articles were not among our biggest clickbait, though all did reasonably well in hits. They’re just strong content on important subjects, well written and impressive to the people who put this thing together—the kinds of pieces we’ll submit for the various publishing awards programs that we care about and you…are told about. They are listed chronologically.
When a Child Dies: The Parents’ Perspective
Published: January 2020 issue
Nothing is more traumatic to a parent than the death of their child. If a young patient can’t be saved, EMS should be able to offer some supportive care to the grieving family. Dr. Peter Antevy discusses some specific ways to assist these oft-forgotten victims throughout the process and how they’ve worked at Palm Beach (Fla.) Fire Rescue.
Suicide is a public health crisis in the U.S., and first responders are at increased risk—one study found more than 15% of firefighters had attempted it.1 The authors here—five physicians led by Washington University’s Al Lulla—distributed an anonymous survey they developed to help identify EMS providers who may be vulnerable. What they found was horrifying: More than 31% had scores suggesting increased risk for future suicidal behavior.
Obviously this story continued all year and unfolds still, but this first big print package rounded up some of our initial coverage, including lessons from the virus’ American “ground zero” in Kirkland, Wash.; a first-person perspective piece from an EMT in hard-hit Italy; a profile of the response in rural San Juan County, Wash.; and a roundtable look at the pandemic roles of community paramedic and MIH programs. (Throughout the year we spotlighted COVID-related coverage on a special page.)
Training EMS for Emergency Deliveries in the Field
Published: June 2020 issue
Important and stressful though such unexpected deliveries are, emergency responders get little training on emergency births in the field. EMS personnel in the San Antonio area received refreshers on the topic at a yearly conference, but when that appeared inadequate, a new initiative brought UT Health San Antonio medical students to fire stations to deliver education there.
Spotting the Clotting—Hypercoagulopathy in COVID-19
Published: August 2020 issue
It was some time into the pandemic before enough data was collected to inform a lot of hard conclusions. But as it became obvious COVID was more than a simple pulmonary problem, docs led by Florida emergency physician Michael Estreicher wrote for us about its emerging effect of hypercoagulopathy becoming clearer: “In in many affected patients the virus seems to cause widespread clotting of capillaries and smaller blood vessels, accompanied by concomitant inflammatory processes that suffocate previously healthy tissues.”
The expanded PPE required to deal with patients during the COVID pandemic can be hot, uncomfortable, and difficult to work in. It’s also a barrier between you and patients you can scarcely touch or see. Veteran provider Mike Meoli offered some strategies not only for enduring the ungainly garb more easily but, even more important, humanizing yourself and your care to patients facing such scary, uncertain events.
Twenty years ago, for the January 2000 issue of EMS World’s previous incarnation, Emergency Medical Services Magazine, we asked a bunch of savvy EMS leaders and insiders to make their predictions for the future of EMS in the 21st century. It wasn’t in the plans then, but last summer we rang a few back up to review their predictions. They got an awful lot right and a few things wrong, but it was enlightening and fun to review how things have changed in two decades.
Alaska fire chief Christian Hartley’s moving guest editorial described the dignified sendoff given his beloved family pet and urged that responders who face comparable situations with human patients take the time to show similar honor and reverence to their families and survivors.
COVID-19 changed the delivery of education drastically and possibly forever. Converting in-person, interactive curricula into completely virtual, contactless classrooms was an unprecedented challenge, but innovative EMS educators responded with alacrity and aplomb. A comprehensive roundup from Val Amato shared approaches from top institutions and other educational leaders.
I Will (Also) Get the Vaccine, and I (Also) Hope You Do the Same
Published: December 14 online
When the COVID-19 vaccine arrived, EMS providers were at the front of the line and had decisions to make. Like the broader public, many were skeptical (some 27% still say no way in an unscientific poll on our home page). This editorial blog from Senior Editorial and Program Director Hilary Gates built on an opinion piece from EMS1’s Greg Friese to encourage readers to bare their delts and help change COVID’s destructive trajectory. Get vaccinated—it’s still good advice.
These were some hard choices; there was lots of other great content in 2020 this list isn’t intended to short-shrift. Check it all out—and if there’s anything you think is especially good, bad, or otherwise deserves feedback, let us know.
A peaceful and prosperous 2021 to all.
1. Stanley IH, Hom MA, Joiner TE. A Systematic Review of Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors Among Police Officers, Firefighters, EMTs, and Paramedics. Clin Psychol Rev, 2016; 44: 25–44.