Advanced Practice Paramedic Training Benefits Emergency Medical Response

In most urban areas, citizens pay little attention to the background din of sirens until they need help personally. Emergencies occur at any hour, and people feel more secure knowing that trained medical technicians will arrive quickly, administer aid, and provide safe transport to the hospital. The technicians providing this service not only save lives, but also illustrate the need for advanced practice paramedic training and services.

In earlier times there were few options for treating victims in the field. Even as recently as the 1960s, only a few locations had actual published lists of the standards and practices required and allowed for emergency personnel, and prior to cell phones some ambulances did not even have mobile 2-way radio. First responders were Red Cross certified, but received little classroom medical training.

During that period auto accidents killed more people than wars, and the need for advanced field treatment specialists with advanced emergency training became obvious. By the 1970s funding was established, and the current network of services had begun to coalesce. The goal was was to respond quickly to a crisis, providing care both at that location and in an ambulance en route to an emergency room.

Today, the same front lines are manned by two different levels of personnel. Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are considered to be entry level workers, and comprise the largest group of responders. Training for this position is extensive and comprehensive, and they are often the first to arrive at the scene. Both basic and intermediate level EMT technicians, however, are prevented from taking certain actions.

An actual paramedic performs similar functions, but without as many restrictions. They are not considered doctors, but have been formally trained in anatomy, physiology, and cardiology, and are knowledgeable in the latest techniques for resuscitating and saving the lives of people having heart attacks. They routinely administer intravenous solutions, know how to clear air pathways, and can inject medications.

The current emergency system is light years ahead of the old, but is still retains the same structure. There is a genuine need for another level of expertise in the field, and extending the training and capabilities of paramedics is considered a logical next step. The concept was actually conceived many years ago, but was dropped for various reasons, including political and hierarchical concerns.

Additional training can actually prevent emergencies from happening. Paramedics that have undergone advanced instruction are now making house calls intended to inform and instruct patients, as well as monitor and control conditions like diabetes, asthma, or chronic heart failure, all of which can result in a crisis. This not only cuts down on immediate critical care needs, but frees personnel for other duties.

Creating these positions not only fills a service gap, but also opens up a career pathway for interested paramedics. Because there has traditionally been no room for advancement, paramedics have increasingly abandoned emergency specialties in favor of actual hospital positions. Retaining the best and brightest field responders not only helps those in need, but also improves the overall system.

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