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Event Review: Big National Conference – Process Improvement Academy

This is a guest post by Paramedic and Regional EMS Coordinator Michael Fraley. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

In February 2010, I had the pleasure of attending the “Big National Conference (BNC) for Small and Medium Services.” Turns out the name may be a bit misleading, but in a good way. The “Big” refers to the curriculum and the staff not the number of students. The staff were truly some of the most talented and up and coming names in EMS. I got to spend the week with Aarron Reinert, Skip Kirkwood, John Becknell, Gary Wingrove, Peter Harley and Peter O’Meara.


The 2010 conference was held in the Casino Queen Resort and Casino in East St. Louis Illinois. Not exactly a dream conference location, but the lack of touristy temptations kept me focused on the conference. The organizers plan on other locations in the future including the East Coast.


The conference is sponsored by the North Central EMS Institute (NCEMSI) and the National EMS Management Association (NEMSMA). But unlike conferences sponsored by big name product manufacturers or trade magazines, the sponsorship of the BNC was subtle. It was clear that supporting the future of EMS is why these organizations sponsor the conference. If you are any level of EMS manager or leader or want to be one check out both of the organizations. They have a lot to offer.

Training Tracks

I attended the week-long Performance Improvement Academy. Concurrently running was a Leadership Boot Camp. The Boot Camp started with Field Training Officers then transitioned to Supervisors and then Administrators. Each group’s session was a few days long and overlapped the next group. This was done so that each level got a taste of the next.


The curriculum was the best part of the conference. The flier for event listed a general outline of topics, but before arriving participants were surveyed about what they were hoping to get out of the Academy. Then throughout the week, the staff tweaked the program based on the progress of and feedback from the participants.

My week at the PI Academy included:
• Training in the use of Balanced Scorecard
• Writing process improvement indicators
• Discussion about data quality
• Overview of Pay for Performance
• Review of good research practice


The conference really made me think. Each topic was a challenge to participants to approach PI topics with a critical eye. We learned to ask the right questions and then develop research or a performance improvement program for that question.

And last but not least I was inspired that EMS has a lot of great people answering the challenges of leadership, system development and EMS research. I was also inspired that there are lots of opportunities for me to make a difference in the future of EMS.

Watch the NCEMSI website for news about the next BNC. I recommend it for anyone that is in any form of a leadership role or anyone responsible for QA/QI or performance improvement in their service.

North Central EMS Institute (NCEMSI)
National EMS Management Association (NEMSMA)
Big National Conference for Small and Medium Services


By First Arriving

Dave is an EMS provider based in New York City for over 20 years and has been blogging for over 10 years. He is experienced in all facets of EMS Service Management, Emergency Management, and specializes in Event Medical Services. He maintains a blog at, is an Columnist, and will be authoring on all things social (including Social Media) here at The Social Medic.