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Committee on Pediatric Emergency Medicine

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COPEM History
and
Past COPEM
Committee
Chairpersons



"Twenty Years of
Emergency
Medical Services
for Children:
A Cause for
Celebration and a
Call for Action"

PEDIATRICS, April 2005

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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 Cooperation 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 committee 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 disbanded 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 pediatricians 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 Commission. Dr Christopherson thought that the Academy could work with the
American Medical Association (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 Academy 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 Malformations. This committee eventually became the Committee on Environmental Hazards
and later the Committee on Environmental Health (see Committee 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 conference 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 considered 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 a chapter on pediatric emergency care and recommend its addition to either an AMA booklet on
emergency medicine or a similar manual by the American 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 Emergency
Medical Services. Since some of its interests overlapped those of other AAP committees, notably Accident
Prevention and School Health, the committee adopted a subordinate role in those areas and simply assisted
the efforts of the appropriate committee. 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 completion 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 published.

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 Subcommittee 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 Emergency 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 pediatricians
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 Education (ACBOE) in March 1980,
but action was deferred pending background information. After consideration 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 recommended 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 Executive 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 emergency
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 meeting in January 1985.
In July 1985, the task force wa 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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