August 25, 2020

Message from the Chair

What a time to be alive.

Over the past 4 months, I have been involved in many conversations that have ranged from fiery outrage (on pick your topic) to exhausted resignation (again, pick your topic).   Racism, attacks on police, mission creep on tactical team deployment,  calls to defund the police, rises in violent crime, COVID burnout, and a truly soul sucking media environment.  And, we, the ACEP Tactical Section remain constantly in the center of the maelstrom.

As I watch dudes in multi-cam with no identification pull people into unmarked vans in Portland, I am reminded of my time in South Sudan and Burma and can only think “What the hell?  This isn’t who we are.”  And, as I talk to my colleagues on federal teams about getting pelted with feces and blinded by green lasers, I can only think, “What the hell?  This isn’t who we are.”  As I role between our trauma bays caring for victims of a jackass who drove his car through a crowd and triggered a gun fight, my elastomeric mask thankfully muffles my angry explosion of, “What the f…? Is this who we really are?”

What a time to be alive.

At the end of the day, we signed up for this. We signed up to step into the Arena and “strive to do the deed… to spend ourselves for a worthy cause…”.  We signed up to solve the hard problems.  We signed up to do the right thing; to be better and demand more of ourselves.  We signed up to care for ALL, 24/7/365.  We have always steeled ourselves against the rage of caring for the abuser, the murderer, and the assailant.  Though challenging, these individual cases are somehow more transactional that what we are seeing play out on our streets.

Damn, what a time to be alive.

Most of you who know me know a couple things.  First, I think we can always be better.  In fact, we must be better.  This gets some people, occasionally my residents, bent out of shape.  But, if you think you are as good as you’re gonna get, well dang, that means it’s all downhill from here.  That would suck.  Second, we have a responsibility to challenge ourselves (and our community) to listen, think and take action.  There are some great examples of these two principles in the newsletter this month.  Dr. Baez pushing the boundaries and developing international TEMS standards and Nick Studer’s case report on whole blood in the prehospital environment.  Great examples of leadership and drive.

What a time to be alive.

As you all know, ACEP is virtual this year.  The Section leadership is working on leveraging 189 days of COVID TEAMS meetings to put together a solid program for you all.  Stand by and hope to connect with you all this Fall.

David Callaway, MD, FACEP
Chief, Operational and Disaster Medicine
Atrium Health, Carolinas Medical Center Main


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