By Audrey Fraizer
Brett Patterson was in the same place Brian Dale was two years ago, and—much to his later chagrin—gave the same opening line in response to what is most certainly the Academy’s highest award.
“I’m not normally at a loss for words,” said Patterson, the IAED Academics & Standards associate and Medical Council of Standards chair.
Like Dale, the surprise of receiving the Dr. Jeff Clawson Leadership Award knocked the wind and words right out him, and this time for a person noted for the precision of words in developing protocol.
“I was incredibly nervous,” said Patterson during a conversation in the week following NAVIGATOR. “I truly meant it when I said I was extremely honored to be recognized by peers and a very dear friend.”
Dale, who received the award in 2005, is the Academy’s Accreditation Board chair.
Being recognized for his contributions to protocol was something Patterson said he had hoped for, but certainly not in this lifetime, when he took the stage to accept the Academy’s consummate award from the individual he holds in the highest esteem.
“It’s humbling,” he said. “The recognition by Dr. Clawson for my work is significant. He’s the patriarch of protocol and a very dear friend.”
Patterson was a paramedic transferring into emergency communications when introduced to the Medical Protocol in an EMD class Dr. Clawson was teaching at Pinellas County (Fla.) 9-1-1. He was mesmerized by the concept of protocol, the rigorous standards, precision, and the academic-based corroboration. He gravitated to research, focusing on response configuration and, later, the weight of crafting the most precise language possible for a protocol system since adopted in 43 countries.
“It was consensus based, and that made a lot of sense to me,” he said. “Everything was formally done, and still is. We validate protocol in the academic language of doctors—research.”
Patterson’s fascination with protocol and contributions to protocol during the next several years led to a full-time research and standards position in 1998.
Patterson is a fixture on the Medical Council of Standards, the College of Fellows, and the Academy’s cultural committee. He is active in research, quality assurance, training, and curriculum development. Patterson is a master-level EMD instructor; he teaches EMD to the Academy’s future EMD instructors. He takes personal pride in his contributions to the CPR/triage portion of the protocol.
He’s also very precise in his wording and very deliberate in choosing just the right words for use in a non-visual emergency communication environment. While excessive deliberation is not Patterson’s style on the many boards and committees he serves, his EMS background and experience gives him a sharp edge in chiseling language into the form necessary for immediate patient care.
“We reach people by writing words in the right way,” Patterson said.
It’s the essence of protocol, the assurance that every word is there for a reason and no words are wasted.
Dr. Clawson acknowledged Patterson’s permanent stamp in the history of EMD, and the personal qualities he brings to the Academy. “He is a leader,” Dr. Clawson said. “He has provided input and support in everything that we do.”
Patterson donated the award’s $500 honorarium to Lap of Love, a network of 50 veterinarians across 16 states established three years ago by one vet in Tampa, Fla., to help in the compassionate care of geriatric pets and end of life decisions.