SMACCed Over

SMACC has come and gone again for another year.  It’s always a bit of a comedown, returning to normality after the conference, and this year it is with greater sadness that we return to our ordinary lives.

Enough has been written, tweeted, and blogged about the death of Dr John Hinds just after the SMACC conference.  Nothing I can say will add to that, or make anyone feel any better, so rather than dwell on the loss and sadness, I will instead look back at the fun times I had at SMACC this year.

Please be warned, this is essentially the online version of my holiday photo slideshow.  It is image intensive, and catastrophically boring for everyone but me.  I shall therefore take delight in inflicting it on all of you…

First of all, I was fortunate enough to be involved in the conference on the other side of the fence this year, getting in amongst at the airway workshop, running one side of the confined space airway disaster simulations (and snagging a coveted black SMACC faculty T-shirt at the same time).  By the way, anyone with pre-hospital experience nailed the sim!  Thanks to Tim, Anthony and Andy (TheSharpEnd) for the opportunity to hang out with a great bunch of airway and sim nuts; I felt right at home!

Airway Course

As per usual the conference was packed with critical care educational excellence.  I won’t go into great depth with the sessions, as they will all be up on various websites in the coming months, so you will be able to partake yourselves.

Briefly, the standouts for me were:

  • David Newman of TheNNT talks “Healthcare in Hippocrates Shadow” and “Dogmalysis and Pseudoaxioms”  David really showed how enthralling a speaker who knows his stuff and is passionate can be.  No slides, no distractions, just fierce intelligence and humour, along with a great stage presence.  Get on twitter Dave! #draftNewman
  • John Myburgh on “Forgotten Physiology”  For some reason the way John frames things really clicks for me.
  • Daniel Kornhall talking about Avalanche rescue.  Perhaps not something I’m likely to deal with in Melbourne, but as a keen skier it’s a topic I thought I should brush up on!
  • Thomas Dolven’s presentation on a cric he performed whilst working for Sydney HEMS was visceral, frightening, and enlightening.  Keep your eyes peeled for the video.
  • The panel discussion “Sepsis Smackdown” featuring Kathryn Maitland, Flavio Machado, Mervyn Singer, Paul Marik, John Myburgh, and Simon Finfer was amazing and confusing.  Amazing to see some of the greatest minds of our generation arguing over one of the toughest subjects of our time.  Confusing because I now have no idea what sepsis is, or how to treat it!
  • Kevin Fong was almost as good as David Newman, talking about Humans in Space.  Kevin is another natural presenter, both witty and erudite.
  • Finally, the hands down best session of the entire conference was Tim Leeuwenburg’s talk “All Alone on Kangaroo Island.”  Tim brought the house down with his honest, open, and heartfelt talk, and followed it up with a finale that will (hopefully!) never be matched.

So the talks were great, as usual.  However, this time for me it was all about the social side of SMACC.  One of the great things about FOAMed is the friendships we make in the virtual world, that we then get to see fleshed out at SMACC.  It’s a fantastic, yet kind of strange sensation, to meet someone for the first time, but to already feel like old friends.  This was absolutely the case for me at this conference, and I managed to get a reasonable number of happy snaps of the real consummation of virtual friendships.  Not THAT kind of consummation (my wife travelled with me after all…), google the definition damnit.

Fayaz, Eade

Me, Fayaz Gulamani, and Alan Eade.  I have traded crap with Fayaz on Twitter for while, and meeting him was fantastic, falling straight into a comfortable relationship like we have been mates for years.  Alan and I have been mates for years, so that doesn’t count (sorry Al)

Chris & FaizanChristopher Watford is the creator of the brilliant ECG quiz I featured a while back, and Faizan is an EMS fanatic doctor from Hell’s Kitchen, NY.  I’m sure you have all taken Chris’s quiz (and hopefully have been as humbled as I was) and you should definitely head over to Faizan’s blog as well.

@expensivecare, @ThomasD1973, @MDaware, @Inject_orange

David Anderson (ex-paramedic, now international intensivist of mystery), Thomas Dolven of ScanCrit, Seth Trueger (#DamnItSeth) of MDAware, Jesse Spur, known for doing dodgy things to citrus fruits, I believe.

Bryan Hayes

Bryan Hayes, Tox Guru and all round top bloke.  ALiEM and TPR contributor.


Brian, another fan of picking up heavy things and putting them down again (it’s obvious he does it better than me!)


The one and only Minh Le Cong!  Giant of the twittersphere, if not an actual giant…

The real fun came after hours though at the Gala Dinner…


As marriage equality was legalised that day, it was only fitting that Mike Abernethy and I frocked up for the big occasion…


Yen’s sparkly pashmina may have out fabuloused my skirt.

Elvis Ducanto!


The one and only Elvis Jim Ducanto!

Nick, Fayaz, Thomas, Mike, Rob

Nick Chrimes of the Vortex fame(who at one stage came perilously close to getting some blood in his alcohol system!), Fayaz, Thomas, Mike and Rob Bryant.  Rob taught me far more than I ever wanted to know about Mormon sexual practices.  I may be scarred for life (or at least my armpit will).  Other than that we got on like a house on fire, probably because we are cuzzy-bros.



Kirsten of bad-EM may disagree, but I think I rock the skirt far sexier…



Jaime from PreMedFoam outgunned me by a mile.  He’s a scary big bully who spent the rest of the conference terrifying me!

(If anyone is confused about my outfit, the theme of the dinner was “Festival Chic.”  I didn’t know if that was a Celtic festival, or a rock festival, so I hedged my bets.  There was no caber tossing and no mosh pit, so it appears I was wrong on both counts)

The Gala was a great night, but the real high-point of the week for me came at the faculty dinner after the pre-conference workshops.  As you are a probably aware, I am a huge fan of the ScanCrit blog, and I had just been lucky enough to meet Thomas and Daniel, the brains behind the operation.  Sitting down for a beer was exactly like sitting down with old friends I haven’t seen for a while: comfortable, fun, irreverent, potentially dangerous.  It was the most laid-back, fun night I’ve had for a long time, and really illustrates the fantastic aspect of the FOAMed community that makes connections like this possible.  These guys (along with Fayaz, Kirsten, and Rob) feel like lifelong friends, even though we’ve met once for a few days at a conference.  It’s a bizarre, fantastic phenomenon, especially for someone like me, who is not particularly adept at social interaction, but one I am very grateful for.

ScanCrit boys


Daniel, me and Thomas on the deck having a couple of quiet beers.

Tim, Daniel



My other great mate Tim (of KIDocs) and Daniel.  Tim is clearly having a great time, but it appears he has bored Daniel to sleep, and me to tears…


So that was SMACC for me.  There were heaps of other fantastic people I met (like the emswolfpack crew), but I only have so many photos, and so much time to post this stuff. However, whilst we are on the topic of FOAMed contacts and friends, I need to thank a couple of people in particular.

Without Tim Leeuwenburg in my corner I would not have had the opportunities I did at this conference, nor the fun.  I owe Tim a huge debt of gratitude for his ongoing support;  he is a top bloke whom I am proud to call a friend.  The same goes for Alan Eade, who is always only a text away when I need to rant debrief, have coffee, find out where the hell I went wrong, or get tox topics straight in my head.  It’s great having good mates at these events to hang around with before, during, and after.

So that was SMACC for me.  I ended up enjoying it far more than the last outing, mostly due to the opportunity to meet so many fantastic people.  Next year SMACC is heading to Dublin.  It’s not looking great for me to make it at the moment, mainly due to the hiding we gave the credit cards this time around.  I will be hitting the overtime as much as I can without burning myself out, but it remains in doubt.  In the meantime however, I am back in the saddle and will endeavour to turn out a bit more content for you all.

Thanks for stopping by!

This entry was posted in SMACC. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to SMACCed Over

  1. Love your work mate, and it was great to see you and also see you involved in the SMACC faculty. Well done! Ditto re the thoughts on getting to Dublin, but never say never, right?

  2. Dave Tingey says:

    Great summary Robbie! Fantastic to meet you finally. It really was a case of friends among strangers (although some were maybe stranger than others). Cheers, Tingles

  3. gasdoc2857 says:

    Was Minh the most photographed delegate at SMACCus – he’s on everybody’s blog!

    • I’m beginning to suspect that Minh has successfully cloned himself. It would account for his presence in every photo, as well as the volume of tweets he puts out!

  4. Pingback: #smaccUS - Inspiring Medical Education in Chicago - KI Doc

  5. Thomas D says:

    Good to see you made it back home, Rob! I slept for a 17 hours after getting off that plane…

    Awesome post – it felt like being back in Chicago! Also, it felt a bit like being sat down in a friend’s couch with an old slideshow projector for an evening after he’d returned home from holiday.

    This post just captures the SMACC vibe for me. interacting with all the smart, but nice, friends from SoMe, hearing great talks during the day and chilling out at night. I’ve never had so much proper learing and so much fun at one conference. And a fantastic evening on that restaurant deck! #SMACCfamily.

    Get yourself to Dublin!

  6. Pingback: Two papers at smaccUS - KI Doc

  7. jvrmarshall says:

    Looks like you had a blast Robbie! I have SMACC envy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s