FAIRBORN — Dr. Heidi Abraham has spent more than a decade working toward a career as a physician in the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) field, and as she moves on to the next phase of her education, she will take with her lessons learned through her work with the Fairborn Fire Department.
Abraham has served as the Assistant Medical Director for the Fairborn Fire Department since 2012. She will soon be departing to begin her EMS Fellowship at the University of Texas, which officially commences on July 1.
According to Fairborn Battalion Chief of EMS Adam Howard, each Ohio EMS organization is required to retain a medial director who maintains a valid Ohio medical license with a preferred specialty focus in emergency medicine. Dr. Jason Pickett serves as the lead Medical Director for the Fairborn Fire Department. He also currently serves as an Attending Physician for Miami Valley Hospital within the Emergency Department and as an educator for the WSU Boonshoft School of Medicine.
“In an effort to further develop up and coming medical directors, Dr. Pickett assigns a few highly interested volunteers from the WSU Integrated Residency in Emergency Medicine program to serve as Assistant Medical Directors for some of his affiliated EMS organizations,” said Howard.
The primary roles of the medical director and assistant medical director are to establish medical protocols, provide continuing education, and conduct quality improvement measures for the EMS program.
“This program structure permits the assistant medical director to dedicate more attention and time to foster a close working relationship with each of the individual EMS providers, as well as develop a better understanding of the specific needs of the community served,” Howard said.
Dr. Abraham requested to be involved as an assistant medical director upon entering the WSU Integrated Residency in Emergency Medicine program. She obtained her Ohio medical license in 2012 and for the past year has served as a Chief Resident.
“The opportunity is there for any resident but I knew I wanted to be a medical director,” Abraham said. “I have really enjoyed working with the Fairborn Fire Department because everyone, from the chiefs down, has been great. They all strive for excellence and quality in everything they do. They have definitely pushed me to expand my mind and abilities. Working with guys that have such enthusiasm for the job has been a tremendous opportunity for me just starting my career.”
Abraham’s initial career goal and desire was to become a firefighter/paramedic. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry and Science in Biology degree from Cedarville University in 2006. In 2005, she also obtained her initial Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Basic training at Springfield Clark County JVS. Abraham joined the Cedarville Township Volunteer Fire Department shortly thereafter. In 2006, she also joined the Cedarville University EMS and Central State University EMS organizations.
She went on to obtain her Master’s Degree in Anatomy from Wright State University in 2007, and graduated from a four-year WSU Boonshoft School of Medicine program in 2011. She will graduate from the three-year WSU Integrated Residency in Emergency Medicine program on Friday, June 20.
“Overall, this program design, along with Dr. Abraham’s dedication, has translated into the Fairborn Fire Department being routinely recognized, by local hospital systems, as providing some of the most advanced and highest quality EMS care within the region,” Howard said.
In the last two years, Abraham has helped complete two major projects with the Fairborn department. The first was completely changing the backboard policy, which changed the way medics handle spinal immobilization following car accidents, falls, etc.
“We started in Fairborn and then went to Xenia. Then regionally, departments saw how well it works and started doing it. There are now some 30 departments in the Miami Valley region that have adopted the changes, and even some across the nation,” said Abraham.
The second project was the introduction of ketamine which can be used as a pain killer and sedative depending on the dosage.
The healthcare industry recently began to recognized EMS as a specialty field for physicians, similar to that of cardiology, neurology, family medicine, emergency medicine, etc. In Houston, Texas, Abraham will be joining a relatively new and small group of physicians that have chosen to advance their specialty in the EMS field.
“The members of the Fairborn Fire Department are saddened by Dr. Abraham’s departure, however we wish her great success within her future endeavors,” said Howard.
“It’s been a huge honor and privilege working with the Fairborn Fire Department. They have definitely taught me a lot and have given me a solid start as an EMS medical director,” Abraham added.