Headlines Cease, Our Job Remains
I first learned of Emergency Physicians International at the 2015 New York Symposium on International Emergency Medicine. Dr. Craig Spencer, who is unfortunately best known for contracting Ebola during his work with Doctors Without Borders, provided the opening remarks. He lamented what he saw as misplacement of funds and efforts during the course of the Ebola epidemic. Furthermore, he expressed his concern that the rest of the world assumed the epidemic was over, since the media seemed to have lost interest. “Ebola is stronger and more committed than our indifference,” he said. “The crisis continues to unfold, and I think it would be worse if we were to look away now.”
Concern over media attention was a theme repeated again and again as this issue of EPI came together. Dr. Aaron Tabor, one of our writers, explained a goal of his organization, Make a Change, in an email: “[I want] to help people realize that disaster management doesn’t stop once the interest in the disaster dies down, which too often happens.” He has seen this firsthand during his work in Haiti, which is still recovering from the 2010 earthquake long after it has ceased to be “news.”
While we cannot control where the mainstream media chooses to pay its attention, we have recourse. Social media offers providers more power than ever to refocus the discussion on disaster relief and international emergency medicine development. Dr. Jessica Willet, another of our contributors, praised the power of social media to share the stories of those the world has forgotten, such as Syrian refugees still struggling for survival. Furthermore, it offers providers a chance to collaborate, share ideas, and communicate globally. For a young specialty that is still defining itself, this is vital.
EuSEM president Dr. Roberta Petrino expressed her desire to use technology to create new opportunities for collaboration and sharing knowledge during this year’s EuSEM Congress in Athens. All over the world, educators are providing free online content for new and aspiring emergency physicians. We need to respect this platform and create quality work, to avoid adding noise to the onslaught of information we receive on a daily basis. But as a specialty we pride ourselves on versatility and adaptability. I have confidence in our ability to face this challenge.