EMS and healthcare are at a crossroads, much like the rest of our country, as summer starts. Normally, EMT’s and Paramedics have completed their state refresher and NREMT refresher at the end of March and are gearing up for “Trauma Season”. This year because of COVID-19 NREMT has delayed certification renewal for those folks expiring in 2020, from March 30 to June 30th, 2020. However, less than 30 days remain to submit your CEU’s for recertification, this is your cue to stop procrastinating.

Summer brings trauma, or “hold my beer” calls for accident and injuries, now complicated by COVID-19. From Texas to New Jersey, Washington to Wisconsin, Arizona to Pennsylvania, and everywhere in between, EMT’s and Paramedics are gearing up for a busy summer. Yes, I said the “b” word. Now we are dealing with a regressing pandemic (hopefully) and a complicated recovery.  The recovery and or progression of the pandemic are truly local. Some parts of our country will linger with COVID and others will recover quickly. As a result, EMS and Fire agencies need to respond accordingly. This is based on how well or poorly their service area is recovering from the pandemic, and if a second wave is anticipated. How do we respond to our “normal” summer calls while reducing the risk of COVID-19 to our front-line personnel?

1. Work with the local health departments and hospital officials.

The response of each Fire/EMS agency should be based on the number of cases as a trend in their area. If you are seeing a trend downward, demobilization of resources will provide padding to a stripped budget and relief for line personnel. If an upward trend is noticed, shifting to a plan that limits exposure should be in order. Exposure can be limited by the use of a COVID fly car and using zoom or telehealth on the scene for EMT’s and Paramedics to complete patient history and biographical information. This coupled with a modified dispatch to screen calls, reduces exposure, PPE usage, and wear and tear on apparatus.

2. Brush up on common calls for summer.

We have been focused on Infection Control and COVID-19 over the past 3 months, pushing aside seasonal education. In the coming months, we will see our fair Heat Emergenciesshare of amputations, animal bites, heat-related illnesses, lost hikers, and traumatic injuries. Checkin with your training officer about common calls for summer. Firstly, dust off the protocol book, so you know what bite or sting gets vinegar versus hot water. Secondly, obtain additional education on these topics, which also allows you to fulfill NREMT requirements for EMT Refresher or Paramedic Refresher.

3. Appoint and maintain a Designated Infection Control Officer and alternate.

If you do not have a Designated Infection Control Officer and alternate, you are violating federal law. This is a requirement for any Fire/EMS/Law Enforcement agency. COVID-19 will be an issue for the foreseeable future. Keeping your department and community health will be a priority and an expectation. A DICO course is designed to prepare the officer to meet the requirements established under NFPA 1581, OSHA, and the Ryan White Law.  The Ryan White Law states that each EMS, Fire, and LEO agency must have a designated officer and an alternate. These officers are to manage exposures for the department.  The course needs to focus on legal and clinical issues with an emphasis on the implementation of a program.  Participants should have access to resources including a template for an infection control plan that can be modified for your service.

 

 

4. Assess the mental health of your department

Over the past few months, every department has been strained. If your department is in a position to take a pause, now is the time. Firstly assess your collective mental health. Our best defense for mental health issues in any department is prevention and early recognition with intervention. Similarly, we all experience death as part of the job, however, the volume has increased, as will the emotional toll. This may be followed by the deaths of colleagues on the front line. The loss of our battle buddies will be devastating.  As a result, some of us will develop fractures of our mental health, while others may shatter. Secondly, start with confidential, self-assessment surveys. Thirdly, we recommend using an outside third-party to help administers surveys. This prevents any internal bias and or retribution by superior officers. Finally, if you do not have a mental health professional on-call or a peer critical incident/counseling program, now is the time to start. Of note EMS provider mental health is a requirement for EMT Refresher and Paramedic Refresher core content.

5. Reduce expenditures by transitioning to online and virtual learning.

Many departments and agencies shifted education from in-person to online and virtual. This was an attempt to reduce budgets that were overrun from PPE supplies. This allows departments to recoup costs, maintain certification of members, and keep costs down. While some agencies are exploring how to implement telehealth, education and training can be easily moved to the virtual and online environment. Companies like MedEdNow (www.medicalednow.com) have online EMS educators that departments can contract with to deliver state and NREMT refreshers. This includes core requirements for EMT Refresher and Paramedic Refresher. This provides an opportunity for the agency to focus on more specific localized training that meets their department’s needs.

VILT offers an opportunity for the agency to establish clear communication in real time between students, educators, and other participants.  This means with an effective VILT program, you can exceed your department’s training goals for knowledge retention. This allows EMT Refresher and Paramedic Refresher completion without complications. In addition participation increases, while at the same time reducing your overall educational cost. Compliance and tracking of certifications and credentials are made easier.

If you are looking for information on our robust learning management system for any type of organization, please contact Medicalednow.com at 855-298-8900 or schedule a demo today!