Wednesday, December 17, 2014

24 | 7 | 365: The Evolution of Emergency Medicine

Rhode Island PBS presents an evocative film that tells the story of the beginning of emergency medicine and how the founders of the specialty changed the landscape of American medicine.

24|7|365: The Evolution of Emergency Medicine is written and produced by Dr. Mark Brady, an emergency physician who was born and educated in Rhode Island, and includes Dr. Brian Zink, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and Chief of Emergency Medicine at Rhode Island and The Miriam Hospitals.

When you dial 911, someone picks up your call, an ambulance is dispatched, and you are speedily transported to an emergency room. Once there, a team of specially-trained emergency medicine doctors and personnel with an enormous amount of resources at their fingertips care for you. No one asks if you can pay. No one refuses to treat you if you cannot.

A generation ago, it was completely different. There was no 911 system, there were no trained pre-hospital personnel, your "ambulance" may have been a hearse, and there may or may not have been any doctor at all in a bare basement room with leaky pipes at the hospital where you were taken.

24|7|365: The Evolution of Emergency Medicine chronicles the emergence of EMS and the specialty of Emergency Medicine, which became the 23rd recognized medical specialty only in 1979. The documentary premieres on Rhode Island PBS on Monday, December 29 at 9 p.m.

“It’s our privilege to bring this story to the Rhode Island PBS community,” said David W. Piccerelli, president of WSBE Rhode Island PBS. “Access to 911 and emergency care is something we take for granted today. To realize just how recently this important system emerged is surprising and enlightening. We are thrilled to share this history, and to recognize the role local Rhode Island doctors play in the storytelling.”

The film is narrated by Anthony Edwards (Top Gun, ER) and features Brown University Warren Alpert School of Medicine professor and chair of Emergency Medicine Brian Zink, MD, as the historical consultant. The documentary’s writer and executive producer is Mark Brady, MD, a 2009 graduate of the Brown Alpert School of Medicine. The film is produced by Ann Prum, whose An Original Duckumentary won a national Emmy last year. Director Dave Thomas is based in New York City. His credits include Lost, The West Wing, and Young and the Restless.

"This is a story about mavericks in the medical field - mavericks who went against the medical establishment to meet the changing needs of patients in the ‘50s and ‘60s," explained Brady.

"At the time, there were huge changes in society, and the medical establishment was not prepared for the big jump in emergency visits to hospitals. Technology also became too big and too bulky to fit in the doctor's little black bag – so people increasingly went to the hospital for the latest in urgent diagnosis and treatment," Zink said.

Among the changes affecting medicine was the increased mobility of Americans. As they moved around more, they no longer had family doctors, yet they needed somewhere to go when they got sick. Physicians, too, were also moving away from general practices and house calls, and seeking specialties instead. Specializing offered doctors more regular office hours and predictable schedules.

These changes combined to create a gap between the need for urgent and emergency treatment and the providers trained and on duty to respond. The pioneers of Emergency Medicine – among them, Dr. John Wiegenstein of Michigan – recognized the gap and filled it with persistent advocacy for better training and more resources, ultimately winning recognition and official designation of this important and unique brand of medicine as a genuine medical specialty.

24|7|365: The Evolution of Emergency Medicine explains the social, technological, and political forces that shaped the emergency medical system as we know it, a system that sees more than 130 million emergency room visits in the U.S. each year.

After its December 29 premiere, 24|7|365: The Evolution of Emergency Medicine encores on WSBE Rhode Island PBS (36.1) on December 31 at 1:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., January 1 at 4:00 a.m., and January 3 at 1 p.m. The documentary also airs on WSBE Learn (36.2) on January 6 at 10 p.m., January 7 at 5 a.m. and January 8 at 2 a.m.

Watch the full documentary on Rhode Island PBS and on Learn:

Rhode Island PBS (36.1)
12/29/2014 9:00 p.m.
12/31/2014 1:30 a.m.
12/31/2014 2:00 p.m.
01/01/2015 4:00 a.m.
01/03/2015 1:00 p.m.

 LEARN (36.2)
01/06/2015 10:00 p.m.
01/07/2015 5:00 a.m.
01/08/2015 2:00 a.m.

For more information and photos and behind-the-scenes video about the documentary and emergency medicine, please visit the documentary Web site at

About Mark Brady, MD, MPH, MMS, DTM&H, LCDR USN
A graduate of LaSalle Academy and Providence College, Dr. Mark Brady received early acceptance into Brown Alpert School of Medicine. He deferred admission to work at a children's hospital in Cambodia then walk the Appalachian Trail for a year.

While attending medical school at Brown, Brady concurrently earned a master’s degree in biomechanical engineering. He received a scholarship to do a master’s in public health at Harvard for a year. Then, he did an NIH fellowship in Peru and Bolivia for a year, studying emerging infectious diseases. He spent a few months doing an internship, writing at the Discovery Health Channel. He completed a 4-year Emergency Medicine residency at Yale, where he was chief resident.

At Yale, he earned a diploma in tropical medicine from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, went back to volunteer in Cambodia and spent some time working in Liberia as the only emergency doctor in the country. Currently an emergency medicine physician, Mark also serves in the Navy Reserves.

About Brian Zink, MD
Brian Zink, MD is the documentary’s historical consultant. One of Dr. Zink's niches is the history of emergency medicine.

A resident of Coventry, RI, Dr. Zink is the Frances Weeden Gibson - Edward A. Iannuccilli, MD, professor, and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and Chief of Emergency Medicine at Rhode Island and The Miriam Hospitals. He is past President of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine and the Association of Academic Chairs of Emergency Medicine.

Previously, Dr. Zink served as associate dean for Student Programs and Director of Student Biomedical Research Programs at the University of Michigan Medical School. He received his M.D. from the University of Rochester, and completed his emergency medicine residency at the University of Cincinnati program, where he was a chief resident in 1987-88.

Dr. Zink's interests include physician leadership and career development, and the history of EM. He is the author in 2005 of Anyone, Anything, Anytime: A History of Emergency Medicine. He received the SAEM Hal Jayne Academic Excellence Award; the American College of Emergency Physicians Outstanding Contribution in Education Award; and the Alpert Medical School Dean's Award for the Advancement of Women Faculty.

About Rhode Island PBS
WSBE Rhode Island PBS is operated by the Rhode Island PBS Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, established in 1987 as a public charity to raise funds and provide support services for Rhode Island’s public television station. WSBE-DT is a viewer-supported member of the PBS network of public broadcasting stations, and transmits on three channels: Rhode Island PBS (digital 36.1), Learn (digital 36.2), and Spanish-language programming on Vme (36.3). Committed to lifelong learning since 1967, WSBE Rhode Island PBS uses the power of noncommercial media to educate, engage, enrich, inspire, and entertain viewers of all ages in Rhode Island, southeastern Massachusetts, and eastern Connecticut. For more information about the programs and education services at WSBE, visit

WSBE Rhode Island PBS transmits standard-definition (SD) and high-definition (HD) programming over the air on digital 36.1; on RI cable: Cox 08 / 1008HD, Verizon FiOS 08 / 508HD, and Full Channel 08; on MA cable: Comcast 819HD and Verizon FiOS 18 / 518HD; on satellite: DirecTV 36, Dish Network 36.

WSBE Learn transmits over the air on digital 36.2; in Rhode Island on Cox 808; Verizon FiOS 478; Full Channel 89; and in Massachusetts on Comcast 294 or 312.

Updated May 30, 2015: deleted link to removed video