Following a trailblazing career serving as Medical Director of the Burbank Fire Department for over 41 years, Dr. Steven J. Rottman has retired from this role as of November 30.
In the 1970s, while he was a medical intern, Rottman was exposed to the work of paramedic firefighters while organized paramedicine was in its early stages of advancement. During this time, medical professionals began recognizing the benefits of utilizing leading medical practices to aid patients in settings beyond hospitals. The emerging paramedic operations surrounding Rottman cultivated his expertise and influence in the Emergency Medical Services field.
“During my residency in Emergency Medicine at LAC/USC Medical Center, one of my mentors, Dr. Ronald Stewart, literally wrote the curriculum for the Los Angeles County Paramedic Training program,” Rottman said. “His guidance coupled with my own experiences with EMS during residency paved the way.”
His role as BFD Medical Director has resulted in Rottman responding with firefighter-paramedics to calls from a variety of locations, such as businesses, medical offices, private residences, streets, freeways, airports, and more. The range of areas the department serves has called for BFD personnel to constantly remain prepared for a response to any emergency atmosphere under Rottman’s EMS leadership.
“As a colleague once said about providing emergency care beyond the controlled setting of an emergency department, ‘The meeting place is outside.’” Rottman said.
Several noteworthy accomplishments have been made by Rottman through his contributions to the BFD EMS Program, including conducting a project that laid the foundation for what is today known as Field Treatment Protocols. Whereas prior to this project, all paramedics were required to contact a nurse before initiating treatment, Rottman and the department demonstrated that they could independently identify a patient’s condition and select the appropriate medical care to perform without contacting a nurse and taking them away from other clinical duties.
This work led to the Los Angeles County EMS Agency beginning to outline standardized treatments for various medical conditions, which became the groundwork for prehospital care throughout all of Los Angeles County.
In addition to his BFD position, Rottman acts as Professor of Medicine/Emergency Medicine in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and in the Department of Community Health Sciences in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. A David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA graduate, Dr. Tabitha Cheng, has been named as the new Medical Director for the department since Rottman’s departure.
One of Rottman’s greatest experiences in guiding the department’s paramedic services, he says, is witnessing the significant developments that have been made in the EMS field since his arrival. His impact will continue to be felt as the BFD carries on his legacy of EMS excellence for residents in need of emergency medical care.
“The field of EMS has made great advances during my time,” Rottman said. “We witnessed innovations in medical care, trauma care, and the creation of specialty hospitals for heart attacks, strokes, pediatrics, and trauma. I was privileged to have been with the department during all of these developments.”