Sub-five feet. Barely a hundred pounds, soaking wet. Blonde hair and blue eyes. But GOSH DANG is Dr. Erica Carney a force to be reckoned with. She’s the most amazing combination of grit, brains, and kindness with a smile more contagious than COVID-19.
She grew up in Kansas City, where she stayed for a combined undergrad-med school program at UMKC School of Medicine and an EM residency where she was Chief of her class. She hopped across the state and completed an EMS fellowship at WashU in St. Louis and now she is a double board-certified (EM/EMS) physician practicing as Kansas City Fire Department’s first female medical director and an attending physician at Truman Medical Center.
Her highlight reel is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Dr. Carney brings positivity and laughter everywhere she shows up, and somehow, she can teach you to be a better clinician without you knowing you’d stepped into her classroom.
One of her many tattoos is a quote from Mother Theresa: “If you can’t do great things, do little things with great love.” Dr. Carney has manifested great things by doing little things with great love. Her first big project as medical director of KCFD was to address the bystander CPR rate in the community she serves. Using the CARES registry, she and the task force from KC Health Department identified the three zip codes with the lowest life expectancy and the lowest bystander CPR rates for OHCA. These three communities were 80% minority families and the average annual income was less than $40,000. Dr. Carney used Paramedics and EMTs on modified duty within KCFD to visit the homes in these communities and teach hands-only CPR. She taught all City Hall employees hands-only CPR and hosted community events for CPR education, reaching an estimated 200,000 Kansas City residents. The bystander CPR rate soared from 29% up to 50%, smashing the national average of 40%!
When asked about a single piece of advice for prehospital providers, Dr. Carney stated “If we just keep at it, love the patient in front of you like your own family member, keep doing the little things we know are right, those little changes will accumulate into a much brighter future for EMS.”
Dr. Carney might be shorter than every medic within her agency, but everyone who has ever had the privilege of working alongside her looks up to her! Happy Women’s History Month to the amazing women of EMS!
-Gwenny Lawson, BSN RN CFRN