Local Emergency Medical Partners Host 28th Year of Winterfest

For Immediate Release

Easton, MD – February 6, 2024

Contact: Sarah Kilmon

Communications Manager



Emergency medical professionals from around the state (and surrounding states) descended upon Easton this past weekend for the annual Winterfest Conference. The three-day conference, now in its 28th year, provides world-class education to emergency professionals on the Eastern Shore. 

The conference is jointly hosted by Talbot County Department of Emergency Services (DES), the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS), EMS for Children at MIEMSS, and University of Maryland Shore Regional Health.  

On Friday, attendees participated in hands-on skills labs, including an EMT 12-Hour Skills Refresher course that met the requirements for EMT recertification. On Saturday and Sunday, the conference was packed with two days of classes, networking, and comradery.

Held at Easton High School, participants joined in the auditorium each morning to hear the keynote speakers, followed by a series of breakout sessions in the afternoon. In between sessions, participants could interact with exhibitors including fire and rescue equipment providers, an ambulance billing agency, state partners, and more.

In addition to providing a space for professionals to receive important updates on emergency medical standards, the conference also aims to provide an opportunity for medical professionals to learn from experts on a range of topics that may not be covered in general medical training. Class topics range from general medical training such as how to assess pediatric burns, to more specific issues like mental health among medical professionals.

Breakout sessions from this year’s conference included: “Grandma’s Medicine Cabinet” which looked at the intersection of traditional or folk medication and modern medicine; “Healthy-ish EMS” that dispelled the illusion that there is a “perfect diet” for all first responders; and “The Go-Team: Bringing the Shock Trauma Center to the Field” which discussed the history, mission, and capabilities of the Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

The conference is open is anyone, and the range of professionals is evident.

Seasoned veterans sit intently listening, aiming to refresh their skills. First year or second year paramedics and EMTs hang onto every word, hoping to absorb as much as they can before going back into the field. Interns and apprentices use the conference to gain valuable educational hours to apply toward their certification. Even family members of medical professionals and members of the local community can be seen participating each year.

This year over 130 people registered, with individuals traveling as far as Delaware, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Georgia to participate.

Mary Alice Vanhoy, one of the original organizers of the conference, provided a heartfelt message as to why she thought the conference has seen such success.

“It’s the community that drives the Eastern Shore. Here we have career folks and many volunteer professionals, and regardless of if [they] are doing it as a job or a service, the dedication shows. Everyone here wants to learn how to take care of their patients,” she said. “Who, with this small community, can often be neighbors, friends, and even family.”

Starting in 1997, the conference was created to provide an opportunity for local paramedics and EMS professionals to learn from each other.

“That first year, we had classes in Buddy Harrison’s restaurant, Chesapeake House, down in Tilghman Island. We had classes in the bar and in the dining room, and our exhibitors were outside under a heated tent,” said Vanhoy.

“28 years later, we have people coming from all around Maryland and other states. We’ve had national and international speakers, authors, and federal government legislators join. We even have multiple generations of medical professionals at this point; several of our participants now come with their children who have also joined the emergency medicine career.”

The conference is also an important time for participants to catch up with each other. “Some of these people, we may see every day on the job. But some, we only see when there is a big emergency event, or if we’re traveling to other areas of the Eastern Shore, or at Winterfest each year,” said Danielle Diefenderfer, one of the coordinators for this year’s conference, and employee at Talbot County Department of Emergency Services. “It’s a great opportunity for people to meet each other and learn about different professional organizations throughout the Eastern Shore and beyond.”

The conference planning committee would like to thank R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center and Stryker for sponsoring the conference, and Talbot County Public Schools, Easton Elks Lodge #1622 and Chesapeake College for use of their facilities over the course of the conference.

For more information, please contact the Winterfest Planning team at winterfest@talbotdes.org.



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Jennifer Anders, MD, Associate State EMS Medical Director for Pediatrics (MIEMSS), discusses the Trauma Decision Tree with EMS clinicians in the Easton High School Auditorium.

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Talbot County Department of Emergency Services staff joins apprentice Giovanni Greaves (second from right) for a photo shoot with Maryland EMS.

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Participant sees demonstration of automated CPR device during a break time at Winterfest 2024.

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Talbot County Department of Emergency Services EMS Division Chief reviews medical tools at an exhibitors table during Winterfest.