From left to right, Jacob Debevec, Christopher Root, MD, NRP, and Jenna M. B. White, MD, FAEMS
By El Webb

Advancing Health Care One Provider at a Time

UNM Emergency Medical Service Consortium Announces Employee Accolades

The University of New Mexico Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Consortium works to improve prehospital care by providing medical direction for rural and tribal EMS services throughout the state.

Three members of the consortium recently received national recognition for their work.

Advancing Rural Health Care

Jenna White, MDJenna M. B. White, MD, FAEMS, was selected as the chair of the National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP) Rural EMS Committee. She began serving her two-year term on Jan. 27.

The committee’s goal is to support the work of rural prehospital care clinicians and the health of rural communities through policy development, education and advocacy at the local, state and national level. 

"I love that emergency medicine affords me the opportunity to treat a variety of patients and pathologies, to support patients and families in times of fear and uncertainty, and to defend access to health care for some of the most marginalized and forgotten members of society,” White said. “My work as an EMS physician translates those values into the out-of-hospital setting.”

White, who also serves as an EMS Academy instructor, an associate professor in the UNM School of Medicine and an EMS Consortium faculty member, provides medical direction for numerous rural and tribal EMS agencies in New Mexico as well as several search and rescue teams.

“As a physician medical director overseeing prehospital teams that cover more than 3,700 square miles of largely rural territory that has few medical resources, I am grateful for the opportunity to support these EMS clinicians – many of whom are volunteers – in their commitments to serve their communities,” she said.

Advancing Health Care for Diverse Populations

Christopher Root, MDChristopher Root, MD, NRP, was selected for the NAEMSP Stryker EMS Medical Director fellowship. Starting in July, Root will be an EMS fellow at UNM, where he is currently completing his emergency medicine residency.

This is the second time in three years that a UNM student has been received this award. Michael Lauria, MD, was the 2021 fellow and is currently completing his second fellowship in critical care at UNM.

“I plan to use the funding provided by the NAEMSP Stryker fellowship to help improve prehospital care for marginalized communities in New Mexico,” Root said. “The projects I have proposed include educational initiatives for EMS and critical care transport providers serving our vast state, as well as teaching hands-only CPR classes in Spanish to people here in Albuquerque.”

Root, who currently serves as chief resident in the Department of Emergency Medicine, is also a flight physician with UNM’s Lifeguard air medical service. His research interests include airway management, interdisciplinary team dynamics, out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and improving prehospital care for marginalized communities.

“I believe EMS can be a tremendous force for equity, innovation and social good in health care, and I will work throughout my career as an EMS physician to advance these ideas,” he said.

Advancing a Safer Health Care Delivery System

Jacob DebevecJacob Debevec, director of operations and faculty in the Division of Prehospital, Austere & Disaster Medicine, recently graduated from the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security. 

“I was privileged to go and learn from leaders in national security, and I now have the honor of taking what I learned and bringing it back to improve New Mexico,” Debevec said. “I have grown up as a part of this community, and I have been mentored by leaders who have shaped my practice.”

Debevec, who was also awarded a special commendation from U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, leads the portfolio of specialty services for the Department of Emergency Medicine and teaches within the community. 

“Receiving the secretary’s commendation is a tribute to what UNM has helped me to do,” Debevec said. “Most importantly, I think my selection for this commendation is thanks to the communities we serve. I have always been motivated to do better for New Mexico, and I hope I can continue to do so.”

Debevec has worked in the UNM Health System since 2017 and has served in several roles at UNM Hospital and across the university.

“Being surrounded by individuals from across the country who are leading their fields was an amazing experience,” he said. “I was able to learn so many things that I believe we can use to safeguard our learners, patients and our community.”

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