Q&A with Dr. Kenneth Mattox // Program Director // Trauma, Critical Care & Acute Care Surgery Conference // Distinguished Service Professor // Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston

Congratulations on the conference’s 50th anniversary at Caesars Palace. How did it begin?
With the field of emergency medicine and EMS not yet established at the time, general surgeons were the foundation of courses in areas including CPR, ambulance transport, resuscitation and surgical repair of injuries. Two enterprising young surgeons establishing their practices in Vegas, Drs. John Batdorf and Kurt Cammack, developed this course locally and held it at the newly opened Caesars Palace, then “out in the country” and far from the downtown gambling center.

What keeps you coming back?
When assuming responsibility for the course in 1989, we considered possible periodic rotations to different U.S. cities. As attendance grew exponentially, however, it was apparent that the course would thrive in Vegas, and that the city and Caesars would fully foster that growth.

Amazingly, after 50 years, we and our attendees still feel that way. We have grown from between 75 and 150 people, primarily from the Western states, to a “sold-out” conference with attendees from around the world. We think the winning formula consists of dedicated, hard-working, world-class speakers presenting timely, practical topics in a five-star location that offers great food and entertainment, with top-notch hospitality and service from Caesars and Las Vegas.

What has changed most about Vegas since 1967, and what has stayed true?
Obviously, much has changed. Caesars and the Strip are no longer “out in the country” as the city has grown amazingly. Spectacular hotels, restaurants and entertainment abound, albeit costlier than before!

While traffic has significantly increased, access to the city and hotels is excellent—a great selling point for our attendees. Fortunately, what has remained the same and makes Vegas a winning conference destination are our dedicated partnerships. The people we work with at Caesars and the LVCVA continue to make our conference the best it can be.