“Paramedics were at one time the newest and youngest members of the mortuary service. There was motivation in arriving at the scene of accident. Later, or concurrently, Paramedics were volunteers simply willing to provide health care: really a transportation service to the hospital.

There are many historical accounts from where the contemporary Paramedic originates… most agree there was a military connection. Sometime between or after the Korean and Vietnam wars, military medics returned home and sought employment with their new found skills… and thus were born the Emergency ‘Medics’.

From the sixties through the eighties, there was a great evolution in the practice of paramedics. Often, the intervention was akin to frontier medicine: the newest and best Emergency Room (A&E) intervention was applied out of hospital on patients under the deception of emergency consent. Paramedics were unregulated and the advancement was uneven, incredible and frightening. And then Paramedics were introduced to specialty teams as part of the public safety ‘response’, providing a public and a responder service.

Today, the Paramedic, particularly in Canada has morphed from a tradesperson, the continual apprentice to a professional: accountable, responsible, self-regulating and indispensible to the new health care system and the evolving public safety service.”

This was the opening keynote discussion from Pierre Poirier, Chief of Emergency Management, Ottawa, Ontario, which set the scene for the conference and its focus beyond emergency response.

The conference venue was packed with around 265 delegates, which included Paramedics, Intensive Care Paramedics, Extended Care Paramedics, Defence Medics, students and many others with an interest in Paramedicine.

The keynote and invited speakers provided delegates with information on the latest new research, such as Lars Wik (Norway) discussing the CIRC (Circulation Improving Resuscitation Care) Trial results, which found that when “compared to high quality manual CPR, integrated AutoPulse-CPR resulted in statistically equivalent survival to hospital discharge and no difference in neurologic status, a statistically significant improvement in survival to hospital discharge for patients with a longer duration of CPR, during treatment of adults with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest of suspected cardiac etiology.”

Dr Jeff Ayton provided an enthralling presentation about the Australian Antarctic Division – the amazing challenges faced in providing medical care in Antarctica and the unique medical conditions that can be encountered when working in such an environment.

Aspen Medical took a look at private paramedicine.

Dr Jason Bendall discussed “What being a doctor has taught me about being a paramedic – implications for current and future paramedic practice”;

Dr Tim Wolfe looked at “The advantages of intranasal drug delivery within the pre-hospital environment.”;

Dr Brett Williams considered “can DVD simulations be used to promote empathic behaviours and interprofessional collaboration among undergraduate healthcare students?”;

Gayle McLellan discussed “Victorian paramedics encounters with birthing women: an epidemiology study.”.

Session speakers flowed with inspiration for delegates, with four streams on each day discussing current research and information relevant to topics in education, management, clinical, student, emergent practice and legal/ethics.

The conference dinner was held on the Saturday night at the conclusion of the conference and was a great event. The Royal Australian Navy Band – Tasmania provided entertainment for the night, which had many up dancing and enjoying the night.

Presentations from the Australian Pre-Hospital & Emergency Health Research Forum (APEHRF) were also announced during the dinner ceremony. This year’s award winners were:

  • Rachel Wallen for the APEHRF (David Komesaroff) Best Paper, as well as best paper in the category Higher Degree for her paper on: “Women’s attitudes to 12 lead ECG acquisition in the ambulance setting.”
  • Stuart Howard for the best Undergraduate Student Paramedic Paper for his work on: “Do first year paramedics have preconceived attitudes about patients with specific mental conditions? A four year longitudinal study.”
  • Angela Williams for best poster on the topic: “Are Australian paramedics prepared for intimate partner violence? A pilot study.”