In emergency care, every minute counts. It’s critical that everyone, from the emergency medical services (EMS) providers who first see the patient to emergency physicians in the hospital, can communicate effectively and work as a team with the goal of providing the best care possible. This team approach is what Jon Krohmer, MD, recently named director of the Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS) for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is emphasizing in his new role. As director, he is responsible for guiding national policy and strategy for EMS systems.
Dr. Krohmer recently sat down with ACEP Now Medical Editor in Chief Kevin Klauer, DO, EJD, FACEP, to discuss his new position and what he hopes to accomplish in the role.
KK: I‘m so excited to have this conversation. Tell us about the new position you‘re in.
JK: I’ve been named director of the OEMS for the NHTSA. I’m the first emergency physician director of the office. Historically, it has been someone who has come from the ranks of EMS state administration or EMS administrative oversight. I’m very honored to be the first emergency physician in this position.
KK: It’s definitely very exciting to have you in this role, representing emergency medicine. How did your career path guide you in this direction?
JK: Working full-time in EMS was always my goal. I grew up, as many of us did, very interested in medicine and wanting to ultimately be a doc. I remember a time when I was a kid in the hospital and had an opportunity to chat with one of the orderlies who was taking care of me. That orderly also worked part-time as an ambulance attendant for the local funeral home who supplied the ambulance at that time. In college, I was watching the television show Emergency!—I kept thinking to myself, “Why are these docs that are doing this EMS stuff?” That was in the early ’70s, when they were really just starting EM residencies. My initial undergrad was in pharmacy. I served as an EMT for a volunteer rescue squad. I did my medical school at the University of Michigan and knew that I was going to go into emergency medicine and focus primarily on EMS.
KK: How did you find your pathway into public service beyond EMS?
JK: While I was practicing in Western Michigan as the medical director for a countywide EMS system, I started to become more and more involved in regional and state EMS activities and trauma systems development and EMS and health system preparedness. Then, around 2005, a couple of years after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had been created, they realized that they didn‘t have any medical resources to which they could turn when medical issues came up. At that time, Dr. Jeff Runge, who is also an emergency physician, was the administrator at NHTSA. The deputy secretary of DHS asked Jeff to speak with them about medical issues relating to the discipline of homeland security. Based on their conversations, he was asked to become the first chief medical officer at DHS.