Thank you to the Tennessee College of Emergency Physicians for inviting me to speak and hosting me at their annual meeting in Chattanooga, Tennessee. My special thanks to my dear friend Sandy Herman, who organized the excellent program, and was generous enough to include me. I gave an update on health care reform, and in a separate lecture provided a review of the latest literature affecting wilderness medicine. My favorite part of the meeting, though, was participating in a luncheon panel discussion with Greg Henry, Todd Taylor, and David Seaberg, moderated (refereed?) by Sandy Herman. None of are shy, and the ensuing debate was lively. (....and just for the record, Greg, you ARE wrong.)
I also would like to express my appreciation to David and Carol Seaberg, who invited me into their home, treated me to wonderful food and great company, and took me to Rock City. The Seaberg’s sons, Ryan and Tyler, showed me the secrets of the boulders atop Lookout Mountain with all the energy and enthusiasm that teenage boys have. Who could resist the dare to follow a narrow path, appropriately named “Fat Man’s Squeeze,” between two giant boulders on the way up the mountain? I stood near the top of that mountain, in front of a green waterfall, and saw seven states. It doesn’t get any better than that.
I spoke with representatives of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, who expressed dismay that Tennessee ranked 51st in disaster preparedness in the recently released National Report Card on the State of Emergency Medicine. They presented the Tennessee disaster preparedness program to the group, vigorously defending their preparedness and their integration with physicians and hospitals. My defense of the Report Card is based on the methodology. Tennessee received the ranking based on the metrics chosen by a group of emergency medicine experts, and based on the data available at the time from public sources. Their presentation revealed a disaster plan that appears cohesive and well-considered, and does have some physician involvement. If nothing else, the controversy caused by the Report Card led to a better dialogue and a better working relationship between TEMA and the emergency physicians of Tennessee. If the result is better disaster planning, then the Report Card has served its purpose.
Again, I thank the Board of the Tennessee College of Emergency Physicians, their president, Dr. Kenneth Holbert, and my many old friends from Tennessee – John Proctor, Bob Roth, Sandy Herman, Harry Severans, Jim Creel, David Seaberg, and too many others to name – for a wonderful experience. Tennessee Rocks!