‘It takes a system to save a life’ was the theme of the second European Emergency Medical Services Congress (EMS2017), held in Copenhagen between 22 – 24 May. Over 1300 people involved in EMS from 40 different countries gathered to meet, present the latest knowledge and work together during the conference with a common aim of improving the way we work to better help patients.
An impressive line-up of highly regarded speakers made up the scientific programme, with keynote talks on prehospital stroke care, high performance EMS teams, neurological trauma, critical haemorrhage and many other fascinating topics. Breakout sessions and workshops covered the plethora of issues and current dilemmas that seem to be shared among ambulance services across the world, from best clinical practice, system design, performance measures, avoiding burnout, integrating EMS research into practice and more.
The poster walks allowed delegates to see the most current research from EMS systems around the world. I had the privilege of attending, showcasing a poster and giving a short presentation of my research from my PhD. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet people from other ambulance services in the UK and abroad to talk about each other’s work, share ideas and discuss possible future collaborations. All the abstracts from the posters presented were published in the journal BMJ Open (find all the abstracts here), so go and check them out. I was particularly interested to hear about how countries like Australia, Sweden and Belgium are producing high quality research, driven and led by paramedics and EMS staff. I came away really inspired and made many new friends. Conferences are a great way of bringing people together.
Not only were there fantastic keynote talks and workshops, but on the first day of the conference a world record was broken! Led by a group of Danish medical students, the TrygFonden World Record for Life saw 5707 people at EMS2017 and across Denmark participate in 30 seconds of CPR. In Denmark, bystander CPR has risen from 19.3% in 2001, to 65.8% in 2014. The record was part of an initiative by TrygFonden to increase bystander CPR in Denmark to 85%. An impressive goal!
A multi-agency emergency management scenario was held in Copehagen harbour, providing a live demonstration of the ability of EMS Copenhagen, Greater Copenhagen Fire Department and the Danish Police to handle a large scale incident with multiple casualties in the water.
Day two of the conference held the EMS championships, in which budding EMS teams from across the globe gathered to compete in simulated clinical scenarios to gain the coveted title of ‘Champions’. The teams were put to the test during intensely stressful situations, only to be scrutinised by hundreds of their peers in the audience and a panel of international judges, as they tried their hardest to provide world class care under immense pressure. The three finalist teams from Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark were put through the nightmare scenario of a mass casualty situation from a simulated structural collapse. Amputated limbs, critical haemorrhage, penetrating trauma and the obligatory nuisance patient with minor injuries made for very challenging situation, indeed. All the teams performed very impressively and I admire their courage for putting themselves forward.
The winners of the championship were announced at the spectacular gala dinner, hosted in the Circus Building in Copenhagen. The truly impressive team from Denmark were heralded as the people’s and judge’s champions, and they really did stand above the rest of the competition. Cool and collected in the face of disaster, showing clinical astuteness and a situational awareness to commend, the Danish team were the clear winners, though that’s not to take away from the performance of the other teams.
I had a fantastic time at EMS2017, it has certainly set the bar for EMS conferences. Copenhagen was a brilliant setting to host the conference and I was really pleased when they announced that EMS2018 is going to be set in Copenhagen again next year. I really hope I have the opportunity to attend EMS2018, and have some results from my PhD to present.