Meet Medical Director Dr. Megan Gussick
What does the MFD Medical Director do?
The MFD Medical Director has a myriad of roles and responsibilities including overseeing clinical care, developing protocols, overseeing quality assurance and improvement, and providing ongoing medical education of all Madison Fire personnel including EMTs and paramedics. I also serve as a liaison between our pre-hospital system and governmental and health care organizations. I work closely with MFD leadership to develop strategic planning and operational research in regards to our city’s EMS system and its future.
What initiatives have you brought on board or look forward to implementing?
My first initiative when coming aboard MFD was to revitalize EMS within our system. This meant empowering all of our EMS providers, including all of our basic EMTs as well as paramedics. I believe that an EMS system cannot function without solid basic skills, and as all of our MFD personnel are trained as EMT-Basics, I wanted to ensure they understood the impact they have on patient care and the citizens of Madison.
In the upcoming year, I am planning on rolling out a High Performance CPR pilot, based upon the King County Model. Madison Fire already has better than average out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival rates, and I hope that with this new initiative we can become one of the premier leaders in the country in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survivals.
I also plan to reinstate our field simulation sessions that were so successful in the past. With these in-person, in-the-field simulations, I hope our providers (including both medics and EMTs) will gain experience in high-risk, low-frequency presentations.
How do you help the MFD stay up to date on medical innovations and advancements in emergency medical care?
As the MFD Medical Director, I work hard to ensure that MFD remains an EMS service that is providing the most advanced and innovative pre-hospital care. To ensure this, I am involved in NAEMSP (National Association of EMS Physicians), follow pre-hospital medical journals, and also engage in social media with other EMS physicians and progressive EMS practices. I also try to correlate practices in the hospital and how these practices may translate into the pre-hospital system.
As health care changes overall, so does our pre-hospital practice of medicine. The best example of this is our new adventure with Community Paramedicine. MFD has already been doing innovative practices in this area and I think we can continue to be a leader in this area.
MFD is a crucial link between patients and the hospital/ER system. What advice do you give our EMTs and paramedics who respond to critical calls every day?
Take pride in the care you provide to our patients and our community. Your initial evaluation and management of patients in the field has huge impacts on these patients’ and their families’ lives.
Also, it is extremely important for all MFD personnel to understand that while most days our job of caring for people in the field is extremely valuable and rewarding, we also expose ourselves to situations and experiences which can take a toll on our mental and physical health. It is important for all personnel to take time to reflect on these difficult calls, understand that it is okay to have an emotional response, and if need be, seek help to deal with these stressors. We cannot continue to care for our community if we do not first take care of ourselves and our colleagues.