Event Review

Event Review: Arrowhead EMS Association Conference

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The big lake they call gitchegummie on TwitpicI have just returned from the 30th annual Arrowhead EMS Association conference in Duluth, Minnesota. Yes, Duluth in January. When I planned the trip I was expecting bitter cold, strong winds, and lake effect snow squalls. Surprisingly the weather was warm (almost tropical for Duluth in the winter time). I even saw hardy Minnesotans walking around in short sleeves. On Sunday I presented two sessions – 1) Online Education Trends and 2) Social Media Use for Training. View handouts and PDF of session slides.

MN State EMS Conference

The Arrowhead EMS Association conference is probably the largest state EMS conference you have never heard of. More than 800 people registered for the four-day event which included a long list of sessions from nationally recognized presenters like Christopher Supron, Jill Torres, David Page, Mike Smith, Paul Werfel, John Elder, Greg LaMay, Dave Long, and Robert Vroman. The great line-up of speakers was headlined by Randolph Mantooth who played Johhy Gage on TV’s EMERGENCY! (Amazon Link)

The exhibit hall was filled front to back with regional and national vendors. The trend I first observed at EMS Expo was apparent here as well. Randy Mantooth signing autographs at #arrowems. Does he know ... on TwitpicVendors are using exhibit hall opportunities to teach EMS professionals assessment and treatment skills that they can use with or without the vendor’s product. The exhibit hall spilled into the adjacent lobby and hallway. One of the top attractions was the crew from the Basic Animal Rescue Training (BART) organization. Their booth was always busy and I heard they had to turn people away from their sessions. I will be learning more about BART.

Thoracic Auscultation

Saturday afternoon I attended Robert Vroman’s session on Thoracic Auscultation. I learned excellent tips from Robert on blood pressure auscultation, heart sound auscultation and interpretation, and lung sound auscultation. He encouraged us to “learn normal so we can then recognize abnormal.” If you want to learn heart sounds you need to listen to heart sounds. I appreciated his advice and encouragement to better use my stethoscope on every patient. (I have already asked Robert to present this topic for I will share more information when it is available.)

Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center

The conference is presented in the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center (DECC) and is within easy walking distance of several hotels and more than a dozen excellent restaurants in the bustling Canal Park. There is also a skating rink, IMAX and movie theaters, and aquarium in the same area. This would be a great conference to bring a family because lodging, meals, and entertainment are easily accessible to the conference venue and reasonably priced.


The Arrowhead EMS Association conference is a well-run and attended conference for EMS professionals. Because of the high quality of content, reasonable price, and family friendly location I highly recommend this conference for EMS professionals and vendors. Visit Arrowhead EMS Association for more about their organization and 2011 conference (January 19-23).

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.