Dr. Justin Northeim and Lee Richardson: EMS Hot Topics

Dr. Justin Northeim and Lee Richardson at Education by the Sea

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 Dr. Justin Northeim and Lee Richardson, who speak Friday, May 12 at 9 a.m.

Both Dr. Justin Northeim and Lee Richardson got inspired at an early age to venture into the emergency medical services industry. Northeim did anything he could to be around the EMS industry when he was a teenager, including washing their trucks! He started riding out with the department when he was 15 and got his EMT certification when he was 18. He kept progressing in the field after being inspired by a great medical director. He wanted to give back to EMS again and became a medical director after medical school and residency. Today, he is the medical control director for BEST EMS.

Like many young boys, the TV show “Emergency” caught Richardson’s attention early on. Later in high school, he met a captain at the fire department at church. He continued the path as a volunteer firefighter, Explorer, and more. Richardson is an industry leader with experience in police, fire, and EMS. Currently, he oversees Fire Operations, EMS, and Training as Deputy Chief in Sachse, Texas.

The “Why” Behind the Topic

Northeim and Richardson wanted to share a topic, “Lightening Round Hot Topics in EMS,” that would teach evidence-based medicine and cover changes that have been popular topics to the agencies they’ve worked with in the last year.

Compressions, for example, is one hot topic the pair will discuss. Northeim said they came from Resuscitation Academy in Seattle realizing they were doing lots of compressions, which is the treatment of choice, but not for traumatic arrest patients.

“Trauma should be treated differently. It should be skill-based,” Northeim said. “It’s a really hard thing for providers (both EMS and the hospital-side) to grasp because we want to help somebody laying there. We want to get on the chest, but that’s not fixing the problem.”

Take-Aways for the Audience

Richardson hopes attendees learn industry best practices from the session and carefully examine what they’re currently doing.

“When you’re talking about lights and siren responses, the primary goal is to make everybody safer,” Richardson said.

Northeim agrees. He hopes the large and small agencies take the information they learn back to educate their crews to create a more evidence-based environment. He believes the agency’s level of evidence-based medicine depends on its leadership and medical direction.

As an example, Northeim shares that Stephen Rahm (also speaking this year) heard their high-performance CPR talk at the Resuscitation Academy he presented last year. Rahm went back to his medical director and completely transformed his entire CPR program and started fresh using their checklists and other things they shared.

“Two years before, we were in the same boat,” Northeim said. “It was us going to Seattle, learning their practices, understanding them, making them fit and mold into what we do here.”

Outlook for the Industry

Northeim believes there will be a significant reduction in lights and siren responses for low-priority calls. He said the community needs to be educated that ambulances may not be coming with lights and sirens if it’s something they deem to be non-emergent.

He also believes telemedicine programs and alternate destinations for patients is the direction the industry is heading.

“It’s cities and agencies being OK telling someone they won’t take them to ER because it’s not an emergency,” Northeim said. “I think our mental illness population is a challenge, as well, and there needs to be an alternate destination for these patients.”

Advice to Those Starting Out in EMS

Richardson recommends those just starting out in the industry learn as much as they can and never stop learning.

Northeim also suggests those new in EMS research the area of first response they want to get into. This can help them find their niche and understand what they want to do long term.

“Find a mentor and connect with someone who has been doing it for a while and can provide guidance,” Northeim said.

Don’t miss the session, EMS Hot Topics, with Dr. Justin Northeim and Lee Richardson on Friday, May 12, at 9 a.m.

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