Ben Wyler Talks COVID 19 with Mark

One of the best presentations at DEM2020 was delivered by Ben Wyler on COVID19.

It not only was a spur of the moment addition to the program but also delivered on the day the Global Pandemic was declared.

It was a sobering presentation and predicted much of what would happen in the last 2 months.

Check it out HERE.

We thought it would be interesting to follow up with Ben who has been working in one of the COVID 19 Epicentres- New York City- since he returned from Colombia.

Ben talks about what its been like in New York, about some of the emerging therapies and also what the future holds.

Check out the interview HERE

We had such a good time catching up with Ben that we thought why not chat with some of our other amazing global faculty to see what the last few months has been like for them.

So keep an eye on our social media pages as we catch up with people from around the world and get a different perspective on COVID 19.

In the meantime DevelopingEMers, Be safe, Stay well and Stay Tuned!!

Lee, Mark and Sanj

Post Conference Surveys and Our Future

DevelopingEM 2020 Colombia was an amazing conference but held in truly historic times.

The Pandemic was declared on the last day of the plenary sessions and our lives have changed forever.

In this very different world we have wondered about the future of DevelopingEM and since the conclusion of the conference we have conducted two delegate surveys related to the Pandemic to help us determine if we should proceed with our events.

Our first survey was a health related questionnaire in which our delegates were asked about Covid 19 symptoms and test results in the first 14 days after the conference.

In total we had 127 responses.

26 respondents described at least one potential COVID 19 symptom and 1 respondent tested positive in this 2 week period.

So the event was a low but not zero risk gathering.

We were extremely lucky and don’t seem to have created harm in the larger scheme of things.

Our second survey focussed on whether the current pandemic dynamic should change our approach as a conference organising agency.

The results were very encouraging for Lee, Sanj and myself.

97% of respondents said we have to continue with DevelopingEM and indeed 90% agreed with the decision to proceed with the 2020 event.

There were some amazing comments generated from the survey that have buoyed our spirits at this difficult time.

” DevelopingEM is an amazing and unique gathering of EM folks with similar interests and a strong desire to give back something greater than themselves.” 

” We must survive “

” DevelopingEM is a wonderfully compelling conference. Supporting international learning and bringing together the best and the brightest — its what we need to do, now more than ever. “

” Because this too shall pass and needs will continue. “

Our DevelopingEM family is truly amazing!

You have confirmed our thought that we should continue with DevelopingEM as a face to face international event. 

Many meetings could probably continue virtually but it is people meeting people face to face that is at the core of DevelopingEM.

So we have already started preparing for 2022 and our African partners are keen to collaborate- we will have more to tell you soon!!


Wrap up of DevelopingEM 2020 Colombia

DevelopingEM 2020 was held between March 7 and 11, 2020 at the Centro de Convenciones, Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

The conference included the attendance of emergency practitioner delegates from 22 different countries.

It was extremely well received with 65 local Colombian and 23 regional practitioners attending as well as nearly 150 other delegates from around the globe

83% of income came from international delegate registration fees and the breakdown of the distribution of these fees is as follows.

For a full delegate paying $AUD1800

  • $AUD1080 went towards venue costs
  • $AUD450 went to administrative costs including outsourced event management, insurance, legals, college fees and merchandise (there is no payment to the medical management team)
  • $AUD72 went towards planning meetings
  • $AUSD54 went towards marketing
  • $AUD18 went towards IT support
  • Most Importantly $AUD126 went to supported attendance of regional and local delegates at the conference and workshops (this is over and above the costs of covering the conference costs of each Colombian and regional delegate)

The other substantial financial contributors to the conference include

  • EMRAP who provided 9% of the total income stream funding some regional delegates, the nursing workshop and the regional development forum
  • ACEM who provided 3% of the income and this was channeled into regional delegate funding

Many ongoing relationships were forged during the conference and we hope this results, as previously, in multiple future projects being generated as a result of the conference.

The conference was held in a turbulent period for global emergency healthcare with declaration of the COVID 19 Pandemic on the final day of the event. Despite the permanent changes to our lives that COVID 19 will bring, the overwhelming feedback from our delegates is that the DevelopingEM concept should continue. We hope to continue to foster international emergency medicine and critical care collaboration now and into the future.

Lee and Mark chat with CODA’s Oli Flower about #DevEM2020

In September, 2019, DevelopingEM Co-Directors, Lee Fineberg and Mark Newcombe were interviewed my SMACC/CODA legend Oli Flower about the upcoming DevelopingEM 2020 Conference in beautiful Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.

A recording studio in CODA’s swanky new office space underneath the on ramp of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge was the setting for a discussion about

  • The wonders of Cartagena and Colombia
  • Supported Colombian and Regional Delegate Attendance at the conference
  • What to expect from the workshops and program at #DevEM2020

Check it out here

Thanks Oli and the entire CODA team for your support over the years.

Its definitely not too late to Register– we would love to have you join us.

190321 Poster with Web Address - AMG


Get Prepped for #DevEM2020

Hi DevelopingEMers

We know you’re coming to the best international EM conference of the year but are you fully prepped???

Here’s the essential steps:

  • Registered online
  • Make sure your passport is up to date
  • Buy your travel insurance
  • Complete your travel arrangements
  • Join the Whatsapp Social Group
  • Memorise the Hashtag and get Tweeting
  • Count down the next 50 sleeps until you’re in beautiful Cartagena


As an organisation, DevelopingEM takes no-profit from events.  Every cent from registration is used to cover the conference costs and sponsor local and regional EM clinicians to attend. As per previous conferences, Developing EM has been able to sponsor one local attendee for every two full fee registrations and this largely due to the generosity of our international delegates- YOU!

If you haven’t yet registered, please register now to confirm your attendance. 

  1. Choose your registration type
  2. Add in your preferred sessions (the Full Conference option includes all social events)
  3. Add in any optional workshops
  4. Check out and make your payment by credit card

We are very grateful for every registration dollar so thank you for your contribution!

Get that Passport sorted!!

You need to have at least 6 months until the expiry of your passport to enter and leave Colombia. Dont fall at the customs hurdle


Dont forget your Travel Insurance

Never travel without it


Accommodation and travel

Please review the Pre-Conference Travel Information – this will help guide you through your travel arrangements.

You can also check our previous blog article detailing our own experiences of travelling to Cartagena

If you would like support with making your travel arrangements, DevelopingEM has partnered with who have been briefed on our event and are very keen to assist you. Two Travel is a company based in Cartagena which can provide A to Z travel support for anyone coming to Colombia; from basic accommodation to full service concierge. Check out their website or email Alternatively, choose from a plethora of accommodation in Cartagena.

Join the Conference Whatsapp Social Group

Once again Joachim Unger from Berlin is taking care of your social arrangements

Use the following QR Code to connect to the group and help you get together in Cartagena


Memorise the conference Hashtag #DevEM2020 and get to tweeting!!


Count down the next 50 sleeps until you’re in beautiful Cartagena and we will see you there.

Travel Recommendations from the DevelopingEM team

We know you have already requested your leave to attend DevelopingEM but now its time to think about

  • Registering for the conference and workshops
  • Booking those flights
  • Getting your accommodation sorted
  • Planning your travel

Here are some tips and tricks from our our planning team who had the task of scoping out this amazing city prior to the conference.

Travel to Colombia

• When you book your ticket make sure the Colombian departure tax/airport fee is already

    included so you don’t have to bother with a cash payment whilst checking in at the



   We cant stress this enough for all of our events

• Make sure you have your Yellow Fever immunisation documentation

   This is mainly to assist re-entry to Australia and other home countries after visiting

    the region

• For Aussies check and record your trip on the Smart Traveller website

Entry into Colombia (Cartagena)

• Check the following guide to the Rafael Nunez Cartagena Airport

• No visa is required for Australians visiting for < 90 days (check the situation in your own


• Customs forms are handed out on the inbound flight

• There is a standard customs area beyond the arrival point

• Most customs officials will speak some English

• Past the customs area is a standard baggage claim area

• Past baggage claim is an area for any declarations

• Past declarations are two currency exchange booths



   and both open from 7 am to 8pm

   It has been suggested that better exchange rates are obtained from ATM’s and there

   are ATM’s in the domestic arrival and departure area

• There is a taxi area on the street outside arrivals and there are usually taxis waiting

    Taxi rates are meant to be fixed but they often are not and can vary between 13000 and

     20000 COP depending on where you are going

    Most taxis will accept USD as well and $10 USD is enough

• Uber is also available with an average rate of 15000-30000 COP depending on the dropoff

• The drive time to the old city is 15 mins from the airport

Departure from Colombia (Cartagena)

• Check in for international flights is 2.5-3 hrs from time of flight

• Online check in is dependent on the airline but could speed the departure process if you

   don’t have bags to check

• Lines can be long at check in on the weekends and we suggest arriving early

• An Airport fee / departure tax is collected at the check in counter if it hasn’t been

   included in your ticket- it needs to be paid in cash (60,000 COP)

• There is a standard exit with customs and security

• The airport lounge is comfortable but basic with a couple of basic food options and a

   couple of souvenir stores

• The airport wifi is free

Accommodation options

• There are literally hundreds of room type and budgetary options

• There are 3 main accommodation areas

   Cielo Mar- near the airport

   Old Town (El Centro / San Diego)- the walled historic old city

   Getsemani- historic (now hipster) area outside the walled old city

   Bocagrande- Miami-like new area of multiple high rise apartments and hotels

• Hotel options that we have personally reviewed include

  Old Town

  – Sofitel Santa Clara


  – Hyatt

  – Estelar

  – Intercontinental

   Cielo Mar

   – Las Americas

• Air BnB options that we have personally reviewed

  – Edificio Centenario

• A Tour Company we have used previously and can Highly Recommend is

   Two Travel

Bars and Restaurants

• There are many options

  – the following can be recommended by the organising team

  Old City

  • El Baron

  • Alquimico

  • Cafe del Mar

  • KGB

  • Bar at the Sofitel- El Coro

  • Rooftop at the Movich- La Terraza


  • Demente


  • Hyatt balcony- Amacagua


So now you have that you have booked your flights, accommodation and social schedule it’s time to Register for DevelopingEM 2020 and ACEM 2020.

March in Cartagena is going to be amazing- See you there!!

Global EM- an incredible conclusion to #DevEM2020

From Human Trafficking to Medicine in Immigration Facilities to Anthropology in EM this is sure to be a fantastic and thought provoking way to conclude DevelopingEM 2020.

Nat Thurtle has once again brought together an incredible faculty to speak on these important issues.

She has written the piece below further outlining the theme of the session, Global Emergency Medicine: Social Science and Narrative in Emergency.

Thank you Nat.


For those of us practicing in Emergency Care, we all know it to be a general specialty. 

Whether you practice in Colombia, in Australia, in Uganda, or in any other place where people come to hospital looking for help because they think they are having an emergency, you may see everything from psychosis to a nailbed injury, from neonatal sepsis to the palliation of an octogenarian, in just one day.

To borrow from the title of one of the session’s talks… ‘All of Life is Here’.

It’s almost 15 years since I first worked in an emergency department, and I still sometimes see things I’ve never seen before. 

I often see things that I know I cannot fix, or things that we can maybe put a bandaid on or give a placebo to, that in reality will do nothing, or nothing beyond short-term relief.

I’m sure you do too. 

And that can feel like a failing, not just of us as individual Emergency Care practitioners, but of the discipline of medicine itself.


If we broaden our ‘generalness’ to engage and integrate with other disciplines, including the Social Sciences such as psychology, anthropology, political science, we can perhaps understand more, not only about what might be offered to patients when there is no straightforward medical option for their presentation, but also about the determinants of their emergency, of their behaviour, and ours. 

We can weave these different inputs into a story, their story, our story, into a narrative.

Narrative Medicine encourages the recognition of patient experience and the psychological dimensions of physical illness so we can develop a more holistic approach.   


In the session this year, we welcome a broad array of incredible speakers with diverse experience.

Caitlin L. Chandler is an investigative journalist based in Berlin who covers migration, security and human rights and has worked extensively in advocacy.  She is going to talk to us about the concept of bearing witness in emergency. 

Dr Hanni Stoklosa is an Emergency Physician based in Boston who will share her expertise on the topic of identifying and managing the impact of human trafficking in the emergency department. 

I will then share some perspectives on the marginal space where Australian doctors are engaging with the health of the refugee population affected by Australia’s offshore processing policy. 

We welcome back Dr Kathleen Thomas, an intensive care doctor, who will share the challenges of attempting to build a grassroots medical advocacy campaign against the deliberate targeting of hospitals in war. 

Dr Darryl Stellmach is a former aid worker/manager who is now a medical anthropologist with MSF. He will talk about his work applying anthropology in humanitarian emergencies with MSF.

And finally we also welcome back MSF doctor and rural generalist Dr Amy Neilson to talk about narrative in humanitarian medicine, perhaps a way that we can thread it all together.


We will also have two panel sessions where we hope to get some discussion flowing and hear about your thoughts on how narrative medicine and the social sciences can feed into what we do in Emergency Care.

I’m super grateful to have the opportunity to curate what I hope will be another fantastic Global Emergency Care session at Developing EM and can’t wait to welcome you to participate in beautiful Cartagena.

Nat Thurtle

More Video Testimonials from Previous Faculty

We have the best faculty in the world- motivated generous experts in their fields one and all.

More have been nice enough to provide a little video testimonial on why they like DevelopingEM.

So Cool.

First we have Kass Thomas an ICU trainee from Australia.

Kass spoke at our 2016 conference on her experiences as an MSF doctor in Kunduz Afghanistan. Specifically she spoke beautifully and bravely about being in the middle of an air attack on the Trauma Centre in Kunduz where patients, colleagues and friends were killed whilst they were being treated or treating others inside a hospital. Her presentation immediately galvanised the audience and spawned the development of the Colombo Declaration and the Stop Bombing Hospitals movement which Kass has tirelessly championed ever since.

This year Kass will discuss some of the challenges of attempting to build a grassroots medical advocacy campaign against the deliberate targeting of hospitals in war.

It is wonderful to hear from Kass as she studies in Sri Lanka and it will be amazing to have her back in the faculty this year.

Thank you Kass for everything.

Next we have Associate Professor Rahul Goswami an emergency physician from Changi Hospital in Singapore.

Rahul spoke for us on some of the practicalities of transporting critical ill paediatric patients during our conference in Sri Lanka. He is a highly respected member of the Singaporean emergency medicine community and we are honoured to have his thoughts on DevelopingEM included in these video testimonials.

Thanks Rahul and hopefully see you soon.


Last but definitely not least is Ant Lewis the Welsh anaesthetic wizard and brains behind i-Simulate.

Anthony and I worked together in 2006 as Retrieval Medicine clinicians in Sydney and he has helped as faculty at our 2012 and 2013 conferences.

In Cuba in 2013 he brought his iSimulates and his big bear and along with Clare Richmond ran an amazing simulation workshop that at the time was ground breaking and thanks to their subsequent work has simply become the standard.

Since then i-Simulate has gone from strength to strength and these days we offer the latest portable simulator devices to our local organising teams because we know what an amazing product they have become.

Ant and his team have always supported DevelopingEM with marketing, promotion and great deals on their devices so that cash-strapped DevelopingEM can get these devices to places where EM simulation has the most benefit.

We will always be grateful for his friendship and support and appreciate his kind words about DevelopingEM.

Thanks again Ant!







EMRAP Emergency Medicine Regional Development Forum at #DevEM2020

In 2018 in Fiji a unique forum was held.

Representatives from 10 regional Pacific nations met, and in an open forum discussed some of the most pertinent issues facing critical care communities across the region.

DevelopingEM simply provided the facilities with the discussion led by regional leaders and experts.

The positive feedback received from regional delegates in regard to the forum has led us to make this component of DevelopingEM events an ongoing one.

In 2020 EMRAP has agreed to contribute to the costs of hosting the forum and EMRAP representatives will facilitate discussions.

EMRAP and EMRAP:GO have unique experience in the region and we are very grateful for their involvement and support.

This year delegates from 10 Caribbean countries have already confirmed their involvement and we hope that regional collaboration will once again be fostered.

The EMRAP Emergency Medicine Regional Development Forum will be an invitation only event hosted on March 8th, 2020 between 2 and 5 pm.

Colombian and Regional Delegate Support Program for #DevEM2020

One of the core ideals of DevelopingEM is the supported attendance of local delegates.

This support has taken different forms depending on the regional context of each conference.

For DevelopingEM 2020 the situation in Colombia somewhat mirrored the EM developmental stage in Sri Lanka  in 2016 with

  • an established and internationally recognised EM society- ACEM – governing the selection of local delegates for each component of the conference
  • all Colombian registrations being complimentary with no individual being invoiced by DevelopingEM

What this will look like in practice will be the complimentary registration of

  • 40 Colombian clinicians to each day of the plenary sessions of the conference
  • 40 Colombian attendees for each of the two social functions.
  • 10 Colombian delegates for each of the four pre-conference workshops
  • 10-15 Colombian clinician attendees to the Regional EM Development Forum

With the assistance of our friends from EMRAP we will also be hosting a Nursing Workshop. This will see the complimentary registration of

  • 16 Colombian emergency nurse clinicians

What we saw with this model in Sri Lanka was that in fact the total delegate attendance number was much higher than the 40 per day base number with different clinicians attending different sessions depending on their special interests.

In Sri Lanka the total number of local clinicians involved in one way or another was 185 and we certainly hope to have at least 100 different Colombian clinicians involved in a similar fashion this year. This could represent a substantial percentage of the total recognised emergency specialists and trainees in the country involved in DevelopingEM.

From a regional perspective we have worked very hard with experts across Central and South America to select a group of emergency practitioners and then support their attendance.

A six month process of multi round invitations was concluded in November.

A total of 38 clinicians from 23 countries were invited to attend with a stratified support program based on country of origin.

14 clinicians responded to our original offers and received either registration discounts, complimentary registration or complimentary registration and travel/accommodation support depending upon their country of origin. Each of these 14 clinicians also received a complimentary workshop of their choice and the opportunity to attend the regional forum.

Unfortunately we have a set budget with limited income streams and so have to place an initial limit on regional delegate support to be financially responsible.

Enquiries after the closure of offers are offered the same same discounted rate on the 3 day conference and social functions as are internationally based trainees. This just about covers our costs and is just over a 50% discount on the international rate. At present 2 regional clinicians are in this group and 1 is seeking assistance with funding from a charitable organisation.

A further 6 regional clinicians are involved in workshop and plenary faculty positions and as for all our faculty they have the option of choosing between zero and 100% of their registration fee.

So in total we have 22 regional attendees on a mix of support packages.

These attendees represent the following countries

  • Barbados
  • Chile
  • Costa Rica
  • Jamaica
  • Guatemala
  • St Lucia
  • Mexico
  • Brazil
  • Peru
  • Guyana
  • Nicaragua
  • Cuba
  • Venezuela


  • Haiti

We must acknowledge the direct support of two organisations who this year are helping us with supporting the attendance of our regional colleagues.

The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine is contributing to approximately 15% of the total regional support and EMRAP is assisting with travel costs for several of the regional delegates. We remain enormously grateful to these enlightened organisations as each dollar we are save means that we can further expand our support.

Over the years the enthusiasm and expertise of our regional colleagues has been an absolute inspiration to our organisation and in large part it is their impact that keeps us going as a conference organising group.

In the end our international delegates and partners allows this to occur with over a quarter of your fees going towards supporting our regional colleagues.

Ultimately its a joint effort and we think well worth it.

Register now if you want to help bring even more people to #DevEM2020.