News and Events

Conference Recap: Pinnacle EMS 2012

2 weeks ago today I returned from the Pinnacle EMS Leadership conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Pinnacle, sponsored by Fitch and Associates, is an annual gather of EMS leaders that represent all EMS service models. Pinnacle prides itself on staying focused on leadership development and fostering the development of agile EMS organizations.

Focus on Leadership

There are not clinical topics or even “CEUs” at Pinnacle. The attendees represent middle and senior management rather than field providers looking to earn CEUs for recertification. One of my favorite sessions was a panel discussion features senior leaders from AMR, Rural/Metro, Falck, as well as a representative from the IAFC EMS leadership. Although there was a little too much¬†niceties¬†and back patting my favorite parts of the session was the leaders describing their personal decision making process and significant leadership learning experiences. Also intriguing to me was that all of the leaders rose from field provider positions to the highest levels of EMS leadership.

Opportunity for EMS

Another strong them at Pinnacle is the opportunity for EMS to re-invent itself in the years to come. Because of changes in healthcare, population demographics, and economic pressures there are more chances than ever for EMS to serve in the prevention and treatment of chronic medical problems. Dr. Gregg Margolis gave a terrific presentation on the opportunities for the EMS workforce. One of his key points was to get off the sidelines and get started with innovation. EMS services that wait to be told what to do by a regulatory agency will fall far behind both their competitors and other other health care provider like physician assistants and nurse practitioners.

Pinnacle EMS Conference
View of Cheyenne Mountain from the conference center

Listening and Monitoring

I had the opportunity to attend the First Watch user group meeting and learn how First Watch, using data from multiple channels, provides near real-time tracking and trending depending on the needs of the community or organization. By automating data collection and analysis organizations can quickly change deployment, recognize emerging problems, and train employees based on what they are doing well. I was especially interested in a First Watch feature to compare ePCR data to a patient treatment protocol.

Key Areas for Leaders in the EMS Profession

These themes emerged over and over in Pinnacle presentations:

  • Safety for paramedics: EMS leaders are going to have to walk the talk on injury prevention and reduction of line of duty deathes.
  • Customer service: I was thrilled to attend a presentation by Mike Taigman. He gave an actionable and inspiring presentation on the importance of customer service by both field personnel as well as the importance of leaders serving their customers – field providers.
  • Community paramedicine: the power seminar on community paramedics was packed with more than 150 attendees. Nearly every presentation I attended made some mention of community paramedics as an alternative for better serving patients and communities.
  • Communicating value: an area of emphasis in our workshop on use of social media, as well as many other presentations, was the importance of EMS organizations clearly communicating value to their communities. That value should be supported with data about patient outcomes, cost savings, and workforce development.
CentreLearn at Pinnacle EMS
CentreLearn booth at Pinnacle EMS

Pinnacle EMS Conference Links and Resources


By Greg Friese

Greg Friese, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is an author, educator, paramedic, and marathon runner.

Greg was the co-host of the award winning EMSEduCast podcast, the only podcast by and for EMS educators. Greg has written for,, Wilderness Medical Associates, JEMS Magazine, and EMS World Magazine, and the NAEMSE Educator Newsletter.