Tag: Interview

Spotlight: Eric Chase, Pafford EMS

Eric Chase
Paramedic & Field Training Officer
Pafford EMS
Bethany, Oklahoma

Other Titles & Roles

Member, American Ambulance Association Education Committee

Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in Warren, PA. I had three brothers and we were all very active in sports, theater and community activities. We had family vacations that allowed us to explore the history and splendor of the US. Growing up, I believe we learned the value of diversity and the importance of acceptance of those different than us. We had several students from abroad stay with us for over 6 months each as well as youth sports teams that would travel in town from various states. We also would travel and stay at the homes of people we did not know for high school events that lasted more than two days. I grew up surrounded by people that treated individuals well. We were taught to believe we were not better than others.

Your history with EMS

I have been involved in EMS since 2005 when I took my EMT course. I matriculated to Paramedic in 2008-2009. I have held positions as EMT, EMT-IV, Paramedic, Fire Paramedic, Flight Paramedic, Field Training, Training Officer and Clinical Services Manager. I had been in law enforcement from 1991 till 2003. It was a dark time in my life and I needed to make changes in my life in order to be more positive and love life again. I learned the importance of Resilience and Redemption in life.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy sharing my story with students and co-workers and being a resource or conduit to resources for education, mental health and more. I always am learning new things and I have an understanding that I don’t know what I don’t know. I try to be very positive despite the times when circumstances could be negative or difficult to navigate.

What is your biggest professional challenge?

I feel that my biggest professional challenge is to stay positive in an environment that is often a dog-eat-dog environment. I like having opportunities to be involved and don’t expect to receive anything from helping people or the organizations for which I work.

What is your typical day like?

When not on shift, I can be busy with our two grandchildren, John Ross and Sophia or our two Rescue dogs, Elsa and Bianka, also, I love spending time with my wife. We often do runs that benefit different charities. I sing in my church ensemble at times. I am the founder of When Failure Isn’t an option- Finding your Joy, which is a social media website that shares stories of hope, research and lets people know they are not alone. I share resources and organizations that can possibly be of assistance to people in the public safety community. I also founded http://www.emsimprov.com which is a website and a social media page emsimprov.com I found that Improv has helped me with social anxiety and depression. I have researched and taken several psychology courses and have found that the cognitive behavioral benefits of Improv are amazing. We know that increased collaboration, improved communication benefit individuals. I also have found that it improves my interactions with patients, co-workers, ER staff and with family. This is key to Resilience- It can improve workplace dynamics and overall happiness.

What are your predictions for EMS 10 years from now?

I believe that in about 10 years, EMS will be a field of Paramedic Practitioners and that the required education minimums and practical hours with physicians and or mid-level providers will increase. With new reimbursement and transport options coming soon I believe we are moving closer to a better and potentially less expensive healthcare model. I hope that we move away from the department of transportation and to an organization specifically dedicated to emergency medicine or at the very least healthcare as the primary mission.

What advice would you give to someone new to EMS?

I would say please stay humble and remember that you must take care of yourself both physically and mentally before you truly can help others. Please don’t stop learning because medicine is constantly changing and with evidence based medicine- change will be inevitable. We need to be flexible.

Spotlight: Desiree Partain, Medstar Mobile Healthcare

Desiree Partain
Mobile Integrated Healthcare Manager
Medstar Mobile Healthcare
Fort Worth, Texas

Other Titles & Roles

MIH Manager at Large, IBSC, NAEMT member

Tell us a little about yourself.

Born and raised in sunny San Diego, California. I have a military ( marine grandfather and navy grandfather, brother, and nephew) and first responder (law enforcement mother) family background. Days were spent in the water, whether it was our backyard pool or the beach. My parents instilled a strong work ethic in me at a young age that began as the neighborhood babysitter, to various positions at assisted living facilities and finally in EMS. I learned to take pride in the things I had and my work, whether it was completing a household chore, a writing assignment at school, or the vehicles I owned.

Your history with EMS

My mother was a police officer in the town I was raised in so the police and fire department was often my home away from home. I can remember being so fascinated with the ambulance and in admiration of the paramedics when I would go to visit. I told my parents when I was little that when I grew up, I would become a paramedic. After graduating high school, I began the series of classes to obtain my EMT. When 9/11 occurred, I remember sitting in my advanced first responder class that day and knowing that I had made the best decision to be apart of the first responder industry. I got EMT certification in 2002 and my first EMS job that same year. I began the paramedic academy in 2005 where I was the academy leader and valedictorian. I received my paramedic certification and began working on the ambulance in 2006. I was also working for an air ambulance company and an adjunct instructor. In 2009, I moved to Fort Worth, Texas to gain further experience on the ambulance. I took a critical care course in 2010 and began working as a critical care/mobile health paramedic in 2011. I obtained my Bachelors in Health and Human Services in 2013 and began a quality assurance/training coordinator position specific for mobile integrated healthcare in 2014. In 2015 I began working as the MIH Manager where I obtain my CCP-C and CP-C certification and completed my Masters in Healthcare Administration in 2018.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love people and being able to help someone who may be having one of the worst days of their life. I view my position in EMS as more of an opportunity to be a life changer than a life saver. Being in management, my position is to lead other life changers. On the mobile integrated healthcare and critical care side, I love being a part of the innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. It’s great to be able to come to work and be in an environment that embraces change rather than the status quo of “we’ve always done it that way” type of thinking.

What is your biggest professional challenge?

Staying current. EMS and healthcare is in a constant state of change and with those changes comes new processes, protocols, and general information that need to be learned. Remaining current with the changes on top of daily responsibilities can be a challenging balancing act.

What is your typical day like?

Working in the administrative side of EMS, a typical day often involves multiple meetings either on or off site. I generally allow myself some time in the morning to go over my tasks for the day, read, and respond to emails. In between meetings, I will work on projects and to-do’s and filter questions or issues with team members. The end of the day is spent reviewing meeting notes, action items and my plan for the following day.

What are your predictions for EMS 10 years from now?

My vision for EMS 10 years from now is an industry that is even more integrated with the overall healthcare system. The use of systems to further enhance efficiency and communication in the emergency and non-emergency settings. Integrated care that starts at the time of the 9-1-1 call with the most appropriate resource deployment, on-scene management whether its offering care without transport or transport to a healthcare facility aside from an emergency room.

What advice would you give to someone new to EMS?

Take pride in what you do in this industry from your uniform appearance, to your ambulance, to the patients you serve, and to yourself. Take care of you first by practicing self care and finding a healthy balance between your personal and professional life. Create professional goals for yourself whether its through education, positions, or organizations and hold yourself accountable to accomplish those goals.

The Cost of a Bad Hire

Our industry has been struggling with a staffing crisis for several years. We are all looking for ways to attract and hire qualified individuals to staff our ambulances and work in our dispatch and billing offices. This shortage has often resulted in ambulance providers hiring many people who meet the basic qualifications for the position even if they might not be the best fit for the company. There is a strong focus on reducing overtime hours to keep cost in line with shrinking reimbursement dollars. However, when a new person is introduced to the company community and culture, there are impacts that are not always recognized. Our industry has also struggled with the concept of collecting and reporting cost data because there are many dynamics that drive cost for ambulance providers throughout the country. Difficulties with identifying and isolating recruitment and retention costs are no exception to this struggle. An article published by the HR Daily Advisor discusses a recently published survey that studied the financial impacts a bad hire has on an organization. Not only does the organization lose the money associated with onboarding the wrong candidate (interview time, screening costs, orientation costs, uniforms, third ride time, etc.) but also the costs associated with the delay in finding the right person and the lost productivity and morale of the coworkers due to the bad hire.

Spotlight: Kathy Lester

Kathy Lester, MPH, JD
Washington, DC
Healthcare Consultant to AAA

Tell us a little about yourself, please.

I am from Indianapolis, Indiana.  I graduated from Warren Central High School, best known for being the high school of Jane Pauley and Jeff George.  My undergraduate degree is from DePauw University.  I had a double major in biology and English literature, with a minor in violin performance.  I also loved philosophy and political science course and was the editor-in-chief of the college newspaper.  I received my JD from Georgetown University Law Center and my Master of Public Health (MPH) from The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Hygiene, now known as the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

After law school, I clerked on for The Honorable Michael S. Kanne on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.  I have also worked in all three branches of government.  In addition to the courts, I worked on the Hill for Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-IN) and in the General Counsel’s Office at the Department of Health and Human Services.

My husband and I met while both working for Senator Lugar.  He retired from the Senate after 20+ years.  We have two children and are trying to succeed in having tropical fish survive for more than a few months.

When and how did you get involved with AAA?

I began working with the AAA several years ago when we began developed recommendations for a quality program.  I believe my first meeting with the group was in Las Vegas.

How do you help AAA?

Currently, I assist on the public policy issues.  This includes working with the Congress to protect the add-ons, as well as develop payment reforms to create stability for Medicare rates.  I help to draft materials for the Hill and legislative language.  As part of this effort, I help with developing more comprehensive Medicare reform recommendations.  I also assist with the regulatory agenda and engage with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and other federal agencies.  In addition, I continue to work on quality structural and measurement issues.

What is your typical day like?

Unpredictable and fun!  My days vary greatly.  I can find myself on the Hill or driving to Baltimore to meet with CMS.  I also spend a lot of time talking with AAA members and the staff team.

What are the biggest challenges you foresee for our industry?Any tips or last thoughts?

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It is more important than ever to understand the cost of services and to be able to articulate why these services are necessary.

[/quote_left]All of healthcare is at a crossroads.  While federal policymakers have successfully reduced spending in the Medicare program, the focus for the foreseeable future will be how to reduce the cost of providing services.  It is more important than ever to understand the cost of services and to be able to articulate why these services are necessary.

For ambulance providers and suppliers in particular, there is great promise in the innovative payment models, because they would most likely recognize the high quality of health care services provided by ambulance providers and suppliers.  However, there is also the potential that ambulance services could become subordinate to larger provider organizations.  As this debate unfolds, it is critically important that data drive any reforms and that the industry look carefully at how programs such as value-based purchasing, the Medicare quality reporting programs (facility compare websites and the five star rating programs), and coordinated/integrated care models have worked for other Medicare providers.  At the end of the day, ambulance providers and suppliers need to understand their care and cost models and articulate use these data points to develop meaningful and sustainable reform options.

Katrina & Rita: Share Your Story

As we approach the ten year anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, AAA is working to gather the stories of the many members who rallied to assist in these crises.

Do you have a memory, photo, or video you would like to share with the ambulance service community? If so, please complete the brief form below, and we will add your story to our retrospective.

All content contributors will be entered into a raffle for a free registration to AAA’s 2016 Stars of Life.

Spotlight: Sean Kukauskas

Sean Kukauskas
Boston, MA, USA
Director of Ambulance Services, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital
Member, AAA Education & Membership Committee

Tell us a little about yourself, please.

I was born and raised in Massachusetts. I have three children, two boys and a daughter. My oldest son, Tyler (20 years old), is in the U.S. Army stationed at Ft. Bliss in Texas. My daughter, Kaylin (19 years old), is a college student, and my youngest son, Sean, is 14 and will be a high school freshman this fall. I am an avid long distance runner. I recently completed my first marathon earlier this year, the 2015 Boston Marathon.

How did you come to work in the industry? How long have you been involved?

Kukauskas, Sean - Spaulding - 2015.07.15 - FamilyAfter high school I joined the U.S. Navy as a mechanical calibration technician for nuclear powered submarines. After getting out of the service, I eventually found myself looking for a solid career. I always had an interest in medicine, so a friend of mine who was an EMT helped me get into EMT school. I have been involved in EMS since then, eventually earning my certification as a Paramedic. I just celebrated my 23rd year in EMS.

I spent the majority of my career working for private fire-based and hospital-based EMS services as a field provider and educator. I have spent the past four years as the Director of Ambulance Services for the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. Spaulding Hospital Ambulance Service is one of the largest hospital based services in Massachusetts. We have 17 vehicles that provide over 16,000 ALS, BLS, and chair car transports annually. Our primary focus is the non-emergent interfacility transportation of patients between the four hospital within the Spaulding Network and our affiliated acute care hospitals.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

As cliché as it sounds, I enjoy making a difference. Whether it is to my patients or for my staff. I like the ever changing envrionment of EMS. Each call, each day, is something new.

What is your biggest professional challenge?

Trying to find that right balance of service and performance while maximizing revenue. At the same time employee engagement and retention are just as importand and challenging.

What is your typical day like?

My typical day starts early to face commuter traffic coming into Boston. Once in my office, I will review the stats from the previous day, respond to emails as needed, and work on the tasks for the day—whatever they may be at that time. I may jump on a truck for the day or for a call. Meetings and then more meetings. At some point during the day I try and get a training run in. Usually I try to finish up some light work at home later in the evening.

How has participation in AAA membership and advocacy helped your organization?

I have found the networking to be invaluable. Chances are someone in in the AAA has encountered a similar situation or issue before. Having a network of colleagues from across the country gives you an avenue to discuss what has worked and what hasn’t.

The AAA helps me grow and improve my department with fresh ideas. The education offerings, the networking opportunities, and reimbursement advocacy all help strengthen our profession. I have been a member of the Education and Membership Committee for the AAA for about two years. I really enjoy working with the other committee members to find and develop new and creative ways to improve the AAA Annual Conference and Tradeshow as well as exploring new opportunities for our members.

Spotlight: David Tetrault

David Tetrault
Farmington, MO, USA
Administrator/CEO, St. Francois County Ambulance District
Director, AAA Board, Region 4

Tell us a little about yourself, please.

I grew up in Jennings, Missouri, a small town in St. Louis County. I’m the baby of six kids—four brothers and a sister. I am very proud of my twin girls who just graduated from high school while simultaneously completing their associates degrees. They are now off to college to Rolla, Missouri, to finish their bachelors degrees. In addition to sharing time with my family and friends, I enjoy softball, camping, swimming, tennis, and walking.

How did you come to work in the industry? How long have you been involved?

David with some of his staff at a recent AAA workshop.
David with some of his team at a recent AAA workshop.

Years ago I was involved in part of the law enforcement arena called “Police Explorers”, primarily because my brother was a police officer. From there, I progressed through many different facets of law enforcement. The one thing that sticks out in my mind is that every time I was involved in an incident including a sick person or trauma, I really felt as if I would filling my calling. I could calm people and make them feel better, even when at that point I had only first responder training.

I have been involved with EMS for more than 30 years now, from my early days as a dispatcher, then up the ranks to Training Officer, then Manager, and now CEO/Administrator here in St. Francois County.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy working with the public, people in our community, and my staff. They are my second family.

What is your biggest professional challenge?

Dealing with the younger spirited individuals coming into the world of EMS. Understanding the different challenges in funding, retention of our employee’s, the right mix of people and balancing the good/bad at the same time.

Making sure the Emergency Medical Services is not the forgotten one in the mix of Fire and Police. We all have a very important roles and the same amount of responsibility.

What is your typical day like?

My day typically starts with putting out fires and finishing my to do list from the previous day. Having 24/7 responsibility for a large program has its ups and downs—including sometimes getting called into work in the middle of the night. By sunrise, I have usually been up and on the highway for several hours. During typical office hours, I attend meetings and handle projects, budgeting, scheduling, and other tasks that need to be completed to keep our service operating. I also address any concerns or needs of the board of directors.

How has participation in AAA membership and advocacy helped your organization?

The American Ambulance Association has bridged the gap for me in my role as a service Administrator/CEO. AAA has many valuable resources, and provides me access to a vast network of ambulance services across the United States. My fellow AAA members as well as staff are always available to answer questions.

AAA has been the leader in ambulance services resources for many years, and they continue to strive to be the best in everything they offer. I enjoy the daily updates, and feel that the work AAA does with benchmarking and standands forms the backbone of the industry. The American Ambulance Association is truly a leader for EMS.

 

aaa conference

Spotlight: Matt Zavadsky

Matt Zavadsky
Fort Worth, TX, USA
Public Affairs Director, MedStar Mobile Healthcare

Tell us a little about yourself, please.

Originally from Connecticut and have lived in Lincoln, NE; Augusta, GA; Orlando & Daytona Beach, FL; Lacrosse, WI and now Fort Worth in the Republic of Texas since 2008. Married to my best friend, Tessa, and we each have grown children, and one grandchild (so far!). Aside from doing what I love at work, Tessa and I are avid Harley Davidson Riders (“it’s not a motorcycle, it’s a lifestyle”). We also do a lot of volunteer work with the North Texas Patriot Guard Riders and the Fort Worth Police Code Blue Citizen’s on Patrol program. I’m also a licensed amateur radio operator and certified storm spotter working with the Tarrant County (TX) Radio Amateur’s in Emergency Service (RACES) program.

How did you come to work in the industry? How long have you been involved?

My dad died suddenly in 1979. The hometown Trumbull, Connecticut volunteer ambulance crew that came to help him so impressed me that I signed up to volunteer the week he died. I started as a “driver” at age 17 and was originally trained in a High-Top Cadillac ambulance (the best unit I ever worked in!).

aaa emt membershipWhat do you enjoy most about your job?

Two things. First, making a difference! Whether you are an EMT, Paramedic, EMD, billing specialist, maintenance tech, logistics tech, scheduler, whatever—what we do MATTERS in people’s lives. Second, is the innovation occurring in the healthcare system, and the role the ambulance industry is now playing in the healthcare system every day, literally! The ability for us to define and redefine our profession’s future is an incredible in the environment we are in today!

What is your biggest professional challenge?

Keeping up with the rapid pace of change in the healthcare environment AND helping others see the future. There are a handful of leaders in our profession who can truly see the opportunity that lies ahead of us and are daring enough to take the risk to do something totally different. At the same time, helping our own folks, the people who really matter at the patient contact level, understand how important they are to our future as an industry.

What is your typical day like?

Up at 3:10 a.m., workout with Tessa at the MedStar gym, in the office by 6:00 a.m. to get more done before 8:00 a.m. than I’ll get done the rest of the day. Run from meeting to meeting to community events, in between try to get projects done until I leave for home at 6ish to finish up emails in the evening…

How has participation in AAA membership and advocacy helped your organization?

The education and communication is invaluable. The daily happenings updates, the education at events like the Annual Conference and Tradeshow, combined with the collaborative work with committees for things like government affairs, professional standards and reimbursement reform is invaluable. The ideas shared by visionary entrepreneurs that do this work every day helps make our profession stronger, both locally and nationally.

Spotlight: Daniel Cavin

Daniel Cavin
Saint Louis, Missouri, USA
Director of Paramedic Education, IHM Academy of EMS

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised here in a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri to Dennis and Cindy Cavin. I was the youngest of three with an eldest brother, Scott, and sister, Meghan. My parents have since divorced, but we all still have a very close knit relationship that is vital to all of us. I am married to my beautiful wife, Stacy, who gave me a lovely daughter, Ariya Shae Cavin.

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Spotlight: Aarron Reinert

Aarron Reinert
Isanti, Minnesota, USA
Executive Director, Lakes Region EMS
Treasurer, American Ambulance Association

Tell us a little about yourself.

This is my 25th year as a paramedic. I began my EMS career as a volunteer in a small rural ambulance service in central Minnesota. During my career I have had a number of different leadership experiences, including leading small rural services and large metropolitan services, as well as working for theMinnesota state EMS office.

Today I serve as the Executive Director for Lakes Region EMS. Lakes Region EMS is a rural ambulance service serving Minnesota and Wisconsin composed of 73 full-time staff with a Paramedic/EMT staffing pattern. Previous to Lakes Region EMS, I was the Field Services Manager for the Minnesota Emergency Medical Services Regulatory Board. At the EMSRB, my projects included creating and implementing a statewide web-based data collection system, developing statewide EMS communication systems, and coordinating EMS bioterrorism preparedness.

I am also active on behalf of our industry on the national level. I serve on the board of directors for the National Registry of EMTs (NREMT), am a past board member for Advocates for EMS, and National EMS Management Association (NEMSMA), and was the chair for the National EMS Advisory Council (NEMSAC). NEMSAC is a statutory advisory board whose members are appointed by the Secretary of Transportation to advise all of the federal government on EMS issues.

How did you come to work in the industry? How long have you been involved?

25 years. I was attending college in Willmar, MInnesota studying computer science and needed a part time job. The local ambulance service was looking for volunteers. As a former Boy Scout and Eagle Scout I thought the EMT class would be easy and fun, and, long story short, I fell in love. I left college, went to paramedic school, and continued with the volunteer service where I became the leader in 1994.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love working with my team. For me, they are my family. I am humbled and honored every day with the incredible things they do.

What is your biggest professional challenge?

Finding the time to do what I know is most the most important, listening to my staff, and deeply understanding their needs.

What is your typical day like?

I travel for my organization and our industry almost half the time. My day might be in a meeting in D.C., or meeting with my team at our offices. No day is the same.

How has participation in AAA membership and advocacy helped your organization?

Too many ways to list, but a few examples:

1.     Helping me to grow as a leader

2.     Connecting with experts all across the nation

3.     Learning new and better ways to lead my organization.

Spotlight: James Rattunde, 2015 Star of Life

James Rattunde
Baraboo, Wisconsin, USA
NR-EMT at Baraboo District Ambulance Service
2015 AAA Stars of Life Honoree

Tell us a little about yourself.

I have lived in Necedah, WI my entire life. I will have been married to my first wife for 39 years in August. We were blessed with twins, a daughter and a son. We also have five grandchildren ages 10, 8, 6, 4, and 2. I love the outdoors, landscaping, lawn and garden, camping (although now in a 5th wheel—not a tent), waterskiing and watersports, and helping others.

How did you come to work in the industry? How long have you been involved?

When my younger brother was about 7 or 8 years old he fell down the stairs with a piece of candy in his mouth. The candy got caught in his throat and he started choking. I never forgot the look on my mother’s face as my brother turned blue and we thought surely he would die. Henry Wegner came running thru the front door of our house and—probably due to his military training—knew just what to do. Henry was able to dislodge the candy and my brother survived. By the way, the ambulance was a white 1962 Ford with a 352 Thunderbird V-8 and a Siebert chasis. I believe to this day that this event is what inspired me to want to be able to help others, just the way Henry did. Mr. Wegner died just a couple of years ago well into his 90s.

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Spotlight: Scott Moore

Scott Moore
Somerville, Massachusetts, USA
Scott’s LinkedIn Profile
Director of Human Resources at Cataldo Ambulance Service
Co-Chair, Education & Membership Committee at AAA

Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up twenty minutes north of Boston, MA. I have a wife, Marianne, and two daughters, Emily (9), and Elise (7). I have been in EMS for 25 years and have worked as a Call Fire-Fighter in my town for the last 10. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School.

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