PHS, emergency responders team up

‘There’s a gap between what EMS knows and how to care for these kids’
Monday, November 28, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS – A chance meeting between representatives of Pediatric Home Service and an EMS training officer for the Minneapolis Fire Department has led to a collaborative training program to ensure home health nurses and emergency response professionals can work together to care for very sick children.
“This is absolutely a need we’ve identified,” said Jill Wall, PHS infusion nurse educator. “There’s a gap between EMS knowledge (and how to care for) these kids. By doing this, it’s really brought collaboration between all of us to create a better scenario in the home between EMS, the family and nurses in the home to safely care for that patient.”
As part of the program, clinical staff at PHS provided education to trainers at Hennepin County Fire on respiratory care, such as proper airway management for patients with tracheostomy tubes; and home infusion lines, including how to use different types of infusion lines. Those trainers then trained EMS personnel.
When EMS responds to an emergency call for a medically complex child, the care they need is quite different than other emergency calls, says Bruce Estrem, PHS manager of clinical education.
“Most EMS (calls) respond to upper airway issues, but for the patients we have, it’s lower airway issues,” he said. “We teach how to respond to the patient, how to resuscitate and proper suction technique.”
The EMS trainers, in turn, educated PHS clinical staff on the various roles, skill sets and protocols in the “EMS world,” says Becca Pasch, PHS nurse training supervisor.
“It’s important for the nurse to know that when EMS arrives, not to back off but to stay in the picture, advocate for the patient,” she said. “EMS doesn’t work with these complex patients daily—our nurses do.”
For their part, EMS personnel may be the experts when it comes to emergency care, but for these children, it’s important to pull together as a team, says Amber Lage, EMS training officer for the Minneapolis Fire Department, who helped develop the program.
“Every time we get called to a child emergency—much less one with a medically complex child—our anxiety level skyrockets,” she said. “We really emphasize that, when we go on these calls, how important it is to communicate. The (families and nurses) are going to be the experts on these types of patients, so we pretty much leave egos at the door.”
Since the program launched, community-based nurses have reached out to PHS seeking training. In November, Estrem and Wall planned to head over the border to River Falls, Wis., to providing training to EMS staff in that fire department. Next April, PHS will host a conference at University of Northwestern-St. Paul. A previous half-day conference drew 75 attendees.