Putting the “M” Back in EMS: A Focus on Medicine – Christopher Way

Christopher Way – Putting the “M” Back in EMS: A Focus on Medicine

This blog series offers a sneak peek into the speakers and sessions at our upcoming annual conference Education by the Sea, May 10-12, 2023, in Port Aransas, Texas.

This week we are profiling Christopher Way, who is on the agenda to speak Friday, May 12, at 11 a.m.

A 2-year-old birthday party sealed the deal for Christopher Way’s career. His mom created a fire chief-themed birthday party for his second birthday complete with a fire truck cake, a fire truck helmet, and a fire truck tablecloth. A photo from this childhood party sits on his desk today as a reminder.

“As cliché as it is, I was young and started watching Emergency and thought, ‘If I could be a firefighter or paramedic when I grow up, that would be the real deal,’” Way said. “So, I started there and never lost sight of that dream.”

Way started volunteering as a junior firefighter in high school, took his EMT classes, and started paramedic class two weeks after high school graduation. He’s been doing it for 31 years.

“I’m still living my childhood dream because I get to play with fire trucks and ambulances every day,” Way said.

Today, Way is fire chief in Post Falls, Idaho, at Kootenai County Fire and Rescue, involved in advocacy and leadership for emergency services at the national/regional/local levels, and partner in an Emergency Medicine education and consulting company.

The “Why” Behind His Topic

Way says his presentation, “Putting the ‘M’ Back in EMS: A Focus on Medicine,” focuses on the primary goal in emergency medical services: providing good medicine and taking care of the patient.

“Sometimes, we focus so much on the emergency and services that we forget that,” Way said. “We need to put the focus back on medicine and provide excellent patient care.”

Even for those who are fire-based, Way says 80% of their calls are EMS calls at the fire department. Their primary mission is still EMS.

Take-Aways for the Audience

There are a number of things Way hopes attendees will take away from his talk:

  1. Focus on the patients they are caring for.
  2. Set up a system of care ahead of time – with dispatch, the hospital.
  3. Develop relationships. “We need to have relationships outside the walls of our EMS operations, with physicians, medical directors in our hospital systems, and all those we will interact with and who will impact the patient,” Way said.

Way looks forward to Education by the Sea, because he feels it’s a great group of EMS providers who are passionate about doing good, providing good medicine, and taking care of their patients.

“As a speaker, you want to connect with your audience, connect with the people, and build relationships,” Way said. “This is certainly an event I’ve been able to do that with through the years.”

Outlook for the Industry

Continuous change is how Way perceives the future of the EMS industry. COVID is a great example of the need to change scope, he says.

“EMS agencies became the ‘Swiss army knife’ of medicine during COVID. ‘We need a vaccine clinic, let’s call EMS,’” Way said. “I don’t think we’ll ever be looked at the same again.”

Way said in fire services, they don’t fight house fires or pull people out of vehicles like they did 20 years ago. So why should they provide medicine like they did 20 years ago? The industry has to evolve with it.

Advice to Those Starting Out in EMS

Find the passion for what you do and stick with it. That is Way’s advice to those starting out in EMS.

“Embrace this and make it your career,” he said. “One of the things I feel fortunate about is I still have as much passion today, 31 years later, as I did on my first day,” Way said. “I still love what I do.”

Don’t miss Christopher Way’s session on medicine in EMS Friday, May 12, at 11 a.m.

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