Stars of Life Nominees Prove EMS is a Calling
Paramedic Eddie Beaver
Paramedic Teresa Parsons
This year’s Stars of Life nominees prove a career in emergency medical services is not for everyone, but if it’s in your blood, it’s nearly impossible to deny it. Paramedic Eddie Beaver spent the first 18 years of his professional life working in computer graphics while Paramedic Teresa Parsons managed several different career paths before finding her way to emergency medicine at 44. continued on page 2
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February 2013 In This Issue: • Stars of Life • From the Desk of the COO • Guest Column • Western Division Operations • Employee Feature • February Safety Poster • Eastern Division Operations • 10-9 • Support Services • Meet Your Coworkers • Birthdays and Anniversaries • EMSA Staff Provides Quality Care
“The way I look at it, if you’re doing what you love you don’t have to work a day in your life,” said Beaver. From Beaver’s early exposure to serving others as an Eagle scout to watching the honorable work of his firefighting friends, he knew he was meant to do something beyond graphic design. However, financial debt kept him from following that path initially. Instead he worked diligently, even taking on a part-time job on top of his full-time job, to speed up the process of financial freedom and coincidentally as the recession began, Beaver and his wife were making a final payment on their debt. In March 2009, Beaver left the comforts of corporate America and pursued his passion – emergency medicine. He went through basic training, paramedic school and was recently named assistant supervisor. “Eddie Beaver is the model medic that many young medics aspire to be,” said John Smith, EMSA director of operations, East Division. Beaver may have started his EMS career later in life, but he doesn’t let that slow him down. “There’s something to be said for doing what you’re called to do,” said Beaver. “Receiving this nomination is just confirmation to me
that I’ve done the right thing; I’m in the right field.”
For Parsons, the decision and training to be a paramedic had to be made twice, once when she initially decided on the career at 44 and again in 2011 after a motorcycle accident took her off the streets for nearly a year. “There were a lot of people who didn’t think I’d be able to return to work because of the severity of my injuries,” said Parsons. “But I never considered not going back.”
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Ironically, even though Parsons’ wreck was outside of EMSA’s service area, familiar faces were on the scene including a coworker who was on air evacuation duty that day and called the incident into Comanche County dispatch where it was received by Parsons’ former partner. The care and support from her EMSA family grew over the next 10 days while Parsons was in the intensive care unit and later released to the floor. Several broken bones and injuries to her back, hand, wrist and even mouth left her ability to return to the job in question, but nearly 11 months after the accident, Parsons returned to the academy. “I returned to work in September 2012, finished my second academy on Oct. 5 and by the first of November I was cleared to work on my own again,” said Parsons. She credits her full recovery to an awesome physical therapist and around-the-clock care from her partner. “Diana Bretz kept me healthy; she kept track of everything for three weeks after I was released from the hospital,” she said. While Parsons’ partners are aware of her injuries, she does not face any limitations as a result of the wreck and is proud to once again be doing what she loves. “Teresa exhibits the personal strength that is to be admired as a Star of Life,” said Joe Wallace, director of operations, EMSA West Division. “I sure love my job and I love taking care of patients,” said Parsons. “I feel very honored to be a recipient of this award.” The Stars of Life nominees will be recognized at the AAA Stars of Life banquet in March in Washington D.C. and the OKAMA Stars of Life banquet in April.
From the Desk of the COO In the months of December and January, average daily transport volume in OKC has increased by 8 percent. This is the highest call volume we have ever experienced in OKC. In Tulsa the average daily transport volume has increased by 10 percent and is approaching record levels there as well. I am so proud of the EMSA family for stepping up to the plate when our patients needed us the most. Many, if not all of you, have worked extra John Peterson shifts to help us get through this period of record call volume. I cannot COO thank you enough for the work that you do and the dedication you have to serving our community. As the call volume rises we will continue to need your help to keep ahead of it. In June of 2012 town hall meetings were held in OKC and Tulsa to discuss plans for future enhancements to our operation at EMSA. One of the main topics of that meeting was a proposed schedule change from a 48-hour workweek to 42. The original goal was to move to this new schedule in November of 2012. We were successfully able to do this in Tulsa; however, it was decided to postpone the new schedule until at least February of 2013 in OKC to allow time to improve staffing levels and for negotiations between management and the union. As a result of positive and productive negotiations between management and the union the 42-hour workweek schedule will officially begin in OKC on May 19. Greg Ford and I will be available to discuss any questions you may have at town hall meetings in February. The following is a timeline of events leading up to the new schedule: • January: post the new wage and PTO matrix and three versions of the proposed new 42-hour schedule for 60 days. • Perform two town hall meetings between January 1 and March 1. • March 1-March 8: The bargaining unit will vote on which of the three shift versions they prefer. • Once voting is completed, we will do a shift bid as follows: ºº 42-hour shift bid will take place the week of March 11 with new shifts starting on May 19. Please be sure to carefully read the new wage and PTO matrix so you are informed as to how this new schedule will affect your hourly pay rate and PTO balance. Remember, your annual pay will stay the same on the new schedule. This new schedule is a very important and positive change for us. Mr. Ford and I are dedicated to making EMSA a great place to work. As always, be safe out there!
We ARE Community Ambassadors Guest Column from EMTs Chase Coates and Brianne Smedley As we all know, EMSA has a large presence within our community as we provide high quality healthcare in our day-to-day operations. To better integrate ourselves within the Tulsa community, we have established a “Community Ambassador” Eastern Division team. It is comprised of EMTs, paramedics and supervisors who want to participate in community service events. The goal of the Community Ambassador team is to become involved in helping the community outside of the normal 911 calls, such as community service projects, leading demonstrations and educational events, special community events and a presence at community forums. The Community Ambassador team has been hard at work since its conception in September 2012. We have educated local students through Operation Aware about the effects of drugs and alcohol and the frightening medical interventions that must be performed in those types of emergencies. The winter of 2012 EMTs Brianne Smedley and Chase Coates kicked off our first large community project. EMT Brianne Smedley lead the H.U.G.S. drive. Our goal for this project was to collect hats, underwear, gloves, socks and other cold weather items to be dispersed to those in need for the cold winter months ahead. After several collection days at many different sites, the generosity of the Tulsa and surrounding area citizens allowed us to distribute winter clothes to hundreds of people in need. The Eastern Division Community Ambassador team has many plans for the coming year. • • • • •
Becoming involved with the Habitat for Humanity organization. Become more visible to the people we serve. Grow the already successful H.U.G.S. drive to make an even larger impact. Continue our success within Operation Aware. Provide general public education about EMSA.
Overall, our goal is to make a positive impact in Tulsa and surrounding areas. As this program continues to grow, the demand for medics to be involved in the community will grow as well. Involvement in the Community Ambassador team is greatly welcomed and appreciated by many. There are no obligations or required time commitments. It is completely voluntary. If you work in the Eastern Division and are interested in participation or would like more information, please contact:
Chase Coates: firstname.lastname@example.org Brianne Smedley: email@example.com
My Story By: Joe Wallace EMSA Western Division Director of Operations I’m going to take you back. It was the summer of 1993. No comments about how you were only 2 years old please. I was a 21-year-old kid who had wandered through life in such odd jobs as delivering newspapers, working at a printing press, being the labor behind setting up and tearing down concession stands at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman (great stories of some of the basketball games and concerts I got to witness), and finally sacking groceries at the commissary on base at Tinker. I had taken my spin at college life, attending the University of Oklahoma straight out of high school and starting at the ripe old age of 17. The responsibility of living on my own, attending classes that had no attendance policy whatsoever, and the fact that I had skated through high school without needing to study all did not bode well for my college education. I had a friend who was attending medic school at the time, and out of curiosity, I decided to ask her what that was like. My college career had already been geared toward a career in healthcare – with classes scheduled to emphasize getting into physical therapy school. I didn’t really know that I wanted to take care of people. At that young of an age, who really knows what they want to do? I started doing a little research into the profession and a memory stirred. Yes, I was one of those 5-year-old kids who religiously watched Johnny and Roy of “Emergency!” and even had a vinyl LP (one of those old things that played music on a turntable) of one of the episodes. I had it memorized. I had the squad 51 plastic fire helmet and SCBA with the mask attached. Maybe I had rediscovered what it was that I was meant to be. Maybe. I decided to give it a whirl without a clue as to what I was getting into. I filled out the application, provided all the documents the school wanted, took my math placement test, and enrolled in one of the only full-time paramedic programs in existence at the time. I say paramedic program like that’s all it was. I embarked on an educational process that would take me through medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, continued on page 7
continued from page 6 EMT Basic, EMT Intermediate, and Paramedic… all in a period of about 10 and a half months from start to finish. We attended class from 0800 to 1500 Monday through Friday and took two-week breaks when it came time for clinical. It was, without a doubt, entirely too much information shoveled into my brain with just enough recollection of that data to graduate, test and pass the national registry. Only then would it be time to discover HOW to be a paramedic in the real world. Well, before getting all the way to the registry test, I was informed on the night of my school graduation that EMSA was hiring immediately. This was in July 1993. The day after my graduation, I drove from my humble rent house in Norman to 1111 Classen Drive to fill out an application. Before I left the building, I had interviewed with Mr. Benny Jones, taken a written test, and performed a trauma code for Mr. Bill Kenney. I guess I did alright on all those because a week later I got the phone call advising me that I had made it all the way to “alternate” on the list of potential new hires. I wasn’t necessarily devastated, but certainly dissappointed. But just two hours after that initial phone call, Sarah Britton called me back on the only phone I had at the time - a home phone - to advise me that one of Lifefleet’s (the contractor at the time) employees in California who was going to transfer to OKC had changed his or her mind. I was in. And the rest as they say is…….. Next month… what I discovered in this crazy world of ours. Joe
EMSA Paramedic Credits Friend for Career Change Paramedic Tori Spencer will celebrate her five-year employment anniversary with EMSA in May and credits her career change from a certified medical assistant to a paramedic to her best friend and fellow EMSA coworker, Crystal Brown. “Crystal talked me into it,” laughed Spencer. The two met when their sons were attending the same daycare. Brown began sharing the world of EMS with Spencer. “I’ve always been fascinated by it (emergency medicine),” said Spencer. “I grew up with five brothers and my dad so I’ve always been a huge tomboy and originally thought I’d become a firefighter a kid.” Though she was raising four children as a single parent, Spencer applied and got a job in the materials department in the Western EMSA Division. Within a span of three years, she went from a materials department employee to a fully accredited paramedic. “This is a field you can’t full train for,” said Spencer. “We go to school and get as much knowledge as possible, but every call is different. A lot of our job is improvising and 90 percent of it is just common sense.” Spencer admits that’s what she loves about the job. “My favorite part of the job is the variety of calls and uncertainty about what might happen next, and being there when some truly needs me,” she said. “I just like to help people; I think that’s something we all have in common.” However, the 12-hour shifts and constantly changing work schedule do make life as a single mother difficult. “It’s really hard on my family, but I have a great family and great friends that help,” she said. And Spencer considers her coworkers at EMSA her family. “I couldn’t do my job as well as I do without a strong partner,” said Spencer. “My partner, Chad Hilton, and I spend 48-60 hours a week together on a truck. I spend more time with him than my family. “We have camaraderie built on understanding. No one else really understands what we do.” Given the physically and mentally taxing elements of the job, Spencer doesn’t believe she’ll be on the streets forever. “Once my kids are out of the house, PA (physician’s assistant) school is a possibility,” said Spencer.
Priorities By: John Smith EMSA Eastern Division Director of Operations Priorities, why do we have them and why do we need them? Every day we set priorities in our lives whether we intend to or not. For some of us these priorities are things we have learned to appreciate over many years and for some it may be that we were told what should be our priority. As a new member to the EMSA team, I hope I can instill in you some of my priorities. When I first met with most of you during the team meetings, I told the groups that as a director it was my No. 1 priority that each of you made it home safely after each shift. I know we preach safety all the time, but have you ever stopped and asked why? As a young medic I was invincible; there was no patient too big and no scene too dangerous for me. It was not until I became a father that I realized I was not invincible and I needed to look out for someone other than myself. As I watched other medics leave the career due to accidents and injuries I realized that any day I could fall victim to that same fate. I am very fortunate to have not suffered any career ending injuries during my early career. When I realized that my priority in life was not my job, but those that depended on me I became a much safer medic. If you have ever come home from a long shift with a sore back and was unable to pick up your small child or participate in your activity of choice then you understand what I am talking about. For some of you, your priorities may differ from mine, but you have them nonetheless. Over the next few months you will see us roll out different safety programs and ideas. I ask that you look at this for what it is - a way for you to go home safe after every shift and not just more rules imposed by management. Please think about yourself and your priorities. How can you fulfill your personal goals and dreams when you are struggling to recover from a work-related injury that could have been avoided?
10-9 By: Eric Callender, Western Communications Manager
I want to take a minute and talk about the process of hiring new, full- and part-time system status controllers (SSCs). We have recently revamped our process to help us select the best candidates for the SSC training program. There are several steps involved in the selection process, which are listed and explained below. 1. Application Period The job of an SSC is so specialized, we historically only do internal postings for candidates. Once the application period closes, we move on to the CritiCall Assessment Testing. 2. CritiCall Assessment Testing This is the newest step in the process. This computer-based testing gives us the ability to see how you function in a fast-paced environment with multiple sources providing you information at any given time. This test will be in conjunction with the candidates mandatory observation shift. 3. Mandatory Observation Shift All candidates must complete the mandatory observation shift before being selected for the interview process. 4. Interview The top ranked candidates from the CritiCall Assessment will be scheduled for an interview. 5. Candidate Selection Once the interviews are complete, the panel will discuss the results of the selection process to select the four best candidates to begin training.
Congratulations to Tulsaâ€™s newest system status controllers EMTs Matthew Rook (from left), Sarah Courtney and Shamus Tilton.
The training program allows us to bring in a maximum of four candidates at a time (two on days and two on nights). Once you are assigned a communication training officer (CTO), you will start your training. Because of the amount of training you must successfully complete, we only offer full-time training. Even if you are selected for a part-time SSC slot, you will train based on a fulltime schedule. To take a candidate from assessment to continued on page 12
continued from page 11 fully released SSC can take as long as 12 months to complete. This all depends on the individual. Everyone GUEST COLUMN has a unique leaning style. We try to work with the candidates to make sure we are maximizing the training process. It is important to know that the first 90 days of training are the most critical. This is when the training team must make a decision if the candidate is making progress and if it is in the best interest of the department to continue the program or discontinue the program based on a lack of progression. We spend a lot of money doing everything we can to help the candidates become successful SSCs. The training is very regimented and designed for success. There are several facets of training that each candidate must master in order to successfully complete the SSC Training Program. I hope this helps shed some light on how we select our SSC candidates. I encourage all of you that have an interest in learning another facet of our system to watch for the application periods to open up. Congratulations to the newest additions to the Tulsa SSC family: Matthew Rook – EMT with EMSA since June 2010. Sarah Courtney – Started with EMSA as an EMT in April 2003; transferred to TReC in April 2010. Shamus Tilton – New EMT starting this year with EMSA.
Support Services By: John Graham, NREMT-P Director, Support services First of all, I want to thank you for everything you do for the citizens of our communities. The work everyone does is very important and it’s appreciated. We have had some questions about why we are using the AmbuTrak system, or as they will be called in April, Operative IQ. The name change will also come with some minor changes in the system. From the field you should not see any changes, but there will be some minor adjustments for the VSTs. They did tell me they are minor and will not require any additional training. AmbuTrak is an inventory, asset, purchasing and fleet management system. We will not use them for fleet management, but it will be very beneficial in the other areas. The system will allow us to be more efficient when it comes to ordering, accountable for our assets, and it will give us information on how and where our supplies are used. AmbuTrak will also allow the VSTs to flip units more efficiently as they become more comfortable with the system and decrease paperwork and help decrease errors. It will also add additional safeguards and accountability to make sure everything that is required will be in its place for use. As we become more proficient with the system, it will streamline the “behind the scenes” process making it a valuable tool for us in the future. If you have any questions or comments about AmbuTrak please don’t hesitate to call me.
Meet Your Coworkers Daniel FitzGerald EMT B, Eastern Division How many years in EMS?
I have been in EMS for around one-and-a-half-years, all of which have been spent here with EMSA.
How long have you lived in Tulsa?
I have lived in Tulsa my entire life, 22 years.
What inspired you to get in this field?
My ultimate inspiration for getting into this field stemmed from my first observation ride with EMSA. Initially I was just going out to see what it was my sister did for a living. I still remember her saying, “Just one ride is all you need, then you’ll be hooked!” She wasn’t lying. A couple months after my first ride with EMSA, I started EMT-B School. The rest is just history.
What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of this job by far is the interaction with all walks of life. So many of us in this field experience burnout and begin to despise contact with anyone less than critical. I myself enjoy being there, not only to meet these people, but be there to help them through whatever emergency they may be experiencing at the time.
What is your least favorite part of the job?
My least favorite part of this job is definitely moving from post to post, I know it is the nature of system status management, but I would much rather help the fine citizens of Tulsa instead of driving from one part of town to another. Other than that, I really love my job and have to struggle to find a reason I don’t enjoy it.
What do you do to destress?
I have a few things I do to “destress.” I enjoy playing with my puppies and getting out of the house and into nature, whether it’s hiking and camping or a trip to the dog park. If I’m outside, I’m stress free.
What type of experience/training do you have in EMS?
I currently have my EMT-B license and I am in the EMSA/Redlands Community College paramedicine program.
What do you love about Tulsa?
I love Tulsa because it is big enough to stay away from people you don’t like, but small enough to always be close to friends.
What do you dislike about Tulsa?
I dislike the roads/construction always looming around Tulsa. It seems like we never catch a break as far as clear streets and the ever changing road closures just make my job more difficult.
January 2013 Anniversaries Years of Employment 4 1 1 16 4 1 1 1 2 36 3 2 2 6 2 12 4 1
Logan, Richard Brown, Christopher T. Williams, Zachary Allen, Mark Carter, David Carroll, Stetson Kelley, Kayla Rice, Michael Autry, Randell Gill, Paul T Ruby, Daren Haney, Kevin Sloat, Sandra Ginn, Michael Walter, Harrison Whitson, Erick Gettemy, Noelle Burch, Francecha
1 1 1 2 2 1 1 2 12 4 6 15 13 10 20 13 1 1
Mora, Carlos Mossman, David Smith, James Bragan, Elizabeth Collins, Phil A. Holt, Ashley Dye, Joshua Gay, Jessica Schlicher, Jacob Hunter, Horace Rusty Reed, Joshua Maze, Kimberly D Cottrell, Paul Webb, Delilah Mcneil, Joanne M. Montgomery, Michael Pless, Melissa Ford, Christopher
2 2 13 9 6 2 5 1 12 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 3
Weaver, Amanda Stout, Jeremy Quivey, Danielle Moore, Mikka Larue, Kasey Carlisle, Joell Fletcher, Tyler Whitaker, Barnabas Dent, Sheri Baker, Thomas Hart, James Jordan, Matthew Brown, Daniel Cole, Ashley Dildine, Kara Duncan, Mitchell Williams, Steven
10 10 10 11 12 12 12 13 13 13 15 16 19 19 19
Thomas Brown Stetson Carroll David Davis Michael Daniels Cassie Lacy Patrick Mahjoub Cyrus Moore Brandon Jones Stephanie Powell Katherine Wakefield Gregory Ford Travis Fletcher Jackson R. Allen Michael Eaton Afton Flora
19 20 20 20 21 23 24 24 24 24 24 26 28 28 28
Lynn Jackson John C. Seyler Stuart C. Wegenka Markus R. Werner Nicholas Bergeron Shawn P. Hoffman Brittany Kincaid Robert A. Martin Tony R McCarty Rees Mohundro Teresa Parsons Rodney Pearce Dusty Dye Christina R. Gibson Katheryn A. Ogburn
Birthdays 1 2 3 3 3 3 4 4 5 6 6 7 8 9 9
David Carter William Presley Brandy D. Baker James Dalrymple Chad R. Hilton Brianne Smedley Charles Collins Craig Maxwell Jesse Camacho Corey J. Hamlin William Johnson John Coffey John Sacra Christopher Elsten Robert Phillips
Excellent to Good Public Acknowledges EMSA Staff for Quality Care Respondents who answered “Good” to “Excellent” 100% 90% 80%
70% 60% 50%
Town 40%hall meetings were recently held in both the East and West Divisions to address some of the negative publicity EMSA has faced as a result of a self-imposed audit. 30%
It is our hope that the town hall meetings helped ease concerns regarding the public image of EMSA employees and reassure you that the job you do is critically important to the community and your performance has never 20% been called into question. This10% audit was a special audit. Due to the nature of this audit, EMSA management has not been able to yet respond to the issues and recommendations. It was decided that EMSA management would provide a written 0% to each issue to the board of trustees before the February meeting. The board will then create an action response All Used EMSA 2000 plan and committee structure to follow up on each issue and recommendations in theSurvey February board meeting. “What we do with the information is a critical piece of the audit process and we will be committed to improving organizational practices,” said EMSA Chairwoman Lillian Perryman. “The quality of care delivered by our service to our citizens in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City areas is excellent and has never been called into question.” To further illustrate EMSA’s quality care, a recent phone survey (Tulsa area only) showed that the public’s perception of EMSA has actually increased since 2000 with the largest increase coming from individuals who have had a personal experience with EMSA. Of the 12 percent who had an unfavorable opinion, only a handful of people cited it was a result of a negative experience. In other words, people who have actually interacted with EMSA staff and employees are much more likely to have a favorable opinion of the organization proving our quality care. However, we’re always looking for ways to better ourselves and view the audit findings as an opportunity to better improve and enhance our operations. “Any recommendations will be evaluated and acted upon rapidly in the next few months, as appropriate,” said Perryman. ”All of this discussion will happen in open, public meetings at board and committee meetings.”