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Committee on Pediatric Emergency Medicine
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COPEM History  

The Committee on Pediatric Emergency Medicine (COPEM) shares similar roots with the Committee on Environmental Hazards, but they evolved in different directions. In October 1953 the Executive Board read a letter from Dr Norman C. Kiefer, Federal Civil Defense Administrator, regarding the possibility of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) preparing a manual to cover the care of children during an emergency. Dr Stewart H. Clifford moved that Dr Francis McDonald be appointed a committee of one to explore this problem of special care of children in an emergency and report back to the Executive Board. The Executive Board concurred and Dr McDonald was appointed to head a one-man Committee on Civil Defense. The Executive Board also established a Committee on Coopera-tion with the Armed Forces in 1953, but sunset it in March 1957. In its last year or 2, it was given no work to do. Dr McDonald reported back in October 1954 with a recommendation that a permanent com-mittee on disaster be established. He also made recommendations for the care and treatment of children in disasters. The recommendations were referred to the appropriate committees. In the fall of 1955, the Executive Board voted to expand the committee's size and scope and renamed it the Committee on Civil Defense and Disaster. However, the committee did not meet. Executive Secretary, Dr Einor H. Christopherson, noted this in his report to the Executive Board in April, 1956 and also noted that he had received no report, though Dr McDonald phoned him with reports of his own contacts with civil defense officials in Washington. Dr Edgar Martmer suggested that the committee be dis-banded and that Dr McDonald be appointed as a liaison representative to the National Civil Defense and let him find out what pediatricians were expected to do in a war emergency. The Executive Board agreed and voted to disband the committee and appoint Dr McDonald as a special liaison to the National Civil Defense.

Dr McDonald reported back in August 1957 with concrete recommendations for informing pedia-tricians of the importance of civil defense measures and the dangers of radio-active fallout. He also noted the need for preparation for defense against natural disasters such as tornadoes. Dr McDonald was serving in the Navy at that time. Meanwhile, at the Executive Board meeting on June 8, 1957, Dr Christopherson read a letter from Dr Robert A. Aldrich in which he expressed concern about plans for disaster control as it affected children. Dr Christopherson noted that he had written back to Dr Aldrich about the AAP's contacts with the National Research Council and the Atomic Energy Com-mission. Dr Christopherson thought that the Acad-emy could work with the American Medical Associ-ation (AMA) on the issue and refer all AAP material to Dr Aldrich. The next day, Dr Christopherson noted a second letter from Dr Aldrich on the dangers of radiation and fallout. Dr Clifford also reported a phone call from Dr Lee Farr, the AAP representative to the National Research Council expressing similar concerns. Dr Farr suggested that the Acad-emy establish a committee on radiation effects in childhood. After some discussion, the Executive Board voted to establish the Committee on Radiation Hazards and Epidemiology of Malforma-tions. This committee eventually became the Com-mittee on Environmental Hazards and later the Committee on Environmental Health (see Commit-tee on Environmental Health). While the committee was originally formed to address the effects of nuclear war and other disasters, it evolved into a committee concerned with a wide variety of environmental problems.

Early in 1967, Secretary of Chapters Dr James B. Gillespie attended an AMA Regional Conference on Disaster Medical Care. The purpose of the confer-ence was to promote the development of state and local programs of medical preparedness for disaster. Executive Board minutes are silent on the issue. However, it appears that some time in 1967, a Committee on Disaster & Emergency Medical Care was established. It met for the first time on October 23, 1967. The meeting resulting in adoption of several objectives: to make recommendations to the overall programs for the injured and sick in disaster and emergency medical care; and to inform AAP members and other pediatricians concerning the problems of disaster and emergency medical care in the pediatric age group. They also consi-dered preparation of a small concise manual on standards for pediatric emergency medical service in hospitals. However, at their next meeting in Evanston on June 6, 1968, they decided that this would merely duplicate those manuals that were already available. Instead, they decided to prepare

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a chapter on pediatric emergency care and recom-
mend its addition to either an AMA booklet on emer-
gency medicine or a similar manual by the Ameri-
can Society of Anesthesiologists. Within a year,
however, they changed their mind and decided to
produce a manual on pediatric emergency care.
Disaster and Emergency Medical Services for
Infants and Children was finally published in 1972.

The committee chairperson was also the pediatric
representative to the AMA Commission on Emer-
gency Medical Services. Since some of its interests
overlapped those of other AAP committees, notably
Accident Prevention and School Health, the commit-
tee adopted a subordinate role in those areas and
simply assisted the efforts of the appropriate com-
mittee. The committee established a liaison with the
Committee on Accident Prevention. It also had a
liaison relationship with the American College of
Emergency Physicians. The committee did not meet
for a few years or so in the early 70s pending com-
pletion of the manual, but then commenced meeting
again in 1972. On March 15, 1975, the Advisory
Committee to the Board on Committees (ACBOC)
decided to sunset the Committee on Disaster and
Emergency Medical Care and delegate its functions
to the Committee on Accident Prevention. The
Executive Board agreed to this in June 1975, and
the committee was sunset. At the same meeting,
they also voted to defer publication of a revision of
the disaster manual. In the end, it was not pub-
lished.

Meanwhile, the Committee on Hospital Care
(COHC) established a liaison relationship with the
Committee on Disaster and Emergency Medical
Care. When the latter disbanded, ACBOC proposed
that its functions go to the Committee on Accident
Prevention. Instead, they went to the COHC. At its
meeting in March 1976 the committee set up a
Subcommittee on Emergency Medical Services. In
1978 it became the Subcommittee on Ambulatory
and Emergency Care. In 1981 it became the Sub-
committee on Emergency Medicine. It is unclear
whether the subcommittee lasted much longer as it
is not listed as a subcommittee after 1981, though
the committee continued to interest itself in pediatric
emergency medicine. The COHC also established
a relationship with the American College of Emer-
gency Physicians (ACEP). (See Committee on
Hospital Care for Committee Chairpersons.)

Over the years, the Academy experienced a rapid
growth in the number of Sections. By 1979 pedia-
tricians involved in emergency medical care wanted
a section of their own. They organized an ad hoc
Committee on Pediatric Emergency Care, which in
turn proposed establishment of Section on Pediatric
Emergency Medicine (SOPEM). The proposal went
to the Advisory Committee to the Board on Educa-
tion (ACBOE) in March 1980, but action was de-
ferred pending background information. After con-
sideration by ACBOE and the Council on Sections,
the Executive Board finally approved establishment
of the Section on Pediatric Emergency Medicine at
its meeting in January 1981.

The new section soon established a liaison with the
COHC and with the ACEP. Section members were
very concerned about pediatric care in hospital
emergency rooms. To address their concerns, they
proposed a Task Force on Pediatric Emergency
Medicine. The COHC approved the concept at its
meeting in April 1983. Soon afterward, ACBOC
recom-mended that the proposal be tabled until
ACBOC could meet again in September. Executive
Board minutes do not reflect just when the proposal
was approved. However, the Executive Committee
did indicate discontent with policies by the ACEP
and the American Heart Association regarding
pediatric emergency care in their report to the Exec-
utive Board in January 1984. In any case, a joint
AAP/ACEP Task Force on Pediatric Emergency
Medicine commenced operations to a limited extent
by the end of 1983 and met for the first time in
February 1984.

The task force worked with the Section on Pediatric
Emergency Medicine on the APLS course in emer-
gency medicine and other projects. The task force
soon determined that a regular AAP Committee on
Pediatric Emergency Medicine was needed. The
Executive Board approved the proposal at its meet-
ing in January 1985. In July 1985, the task force was
replaced by a Provisional Committee on Pediatric
Emergency Medicine. In 1988, it became a full
Committee on Pediatric Emergency Medicine.

 

 
Committee Chairpersons

Committee on Hospital Care / Subcommittee on Ambulatory and Emergency Care
Willis A. Wingert, MD, FAAP, 1978-1981

Committee on Hospital Care / Subcommittee on Emergency Medicine
Willis A. Wingert, MD, FAAP, 1981-1982

Task Force on Pediatric Emergency Medicine
Martha Bushore, MD, FAAP, 1983-1985

Provisional Committee on Pediatric Emergency Medicine
Martha Bushore, MD, FAAP, 1985-1988

Committee on Pediatric Emergency Medicine
Stephen Ludwig, MD, FAAP, 1988-1992
Joseph A. Weinberg, MD, FAAP, 1992-1996
Robert A. Wiebe, MD, FAAP, 1996-2000
Jane F. Knapp, MD, FAAP, 2000-2004
Steven E. Krug, MD, FAAP, 2004-2008
Kathy N Shaw MD, MSCE, FAAP, 2008-2012

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