Meridian Star

Local News

June 11, 2014

Aircare's paramedics offer advanced treatment

MERIDIAN — Special to The Star

    When the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s AirCare flight team responds to a disaster, accident scene or other medical crisis, waiting for them are victims in need of life-saving treatment that can’t wait.

    In some instances, a patient might need a chest tube inserted, or drugs that will lower dangerously high blood pressure or address a raging infection – all examples of care that until recently, Mississippi paramedics weren’t allowed to give.

    Such procedures now can be performed by eight of AirCare’s 15 full- and part-time paramedics. They’ve just graduated from a pilot program on the Ridgeland campus of Holmes Community College, in collaboration with clinical areas at UMMC, to become critical care paramedics pending their certification later this month. That training opportunity is giving new meaning to enhanced care delivered by paramedics in Mississippi, especially those who are part of medical flight crews.

    “We’ve been watching and waiting, and when this course firmed up, we had as many people as possible participate,” Donna Norris of Flowood, AirCare’s program manager, said of the inaugural 14-member class.

    The state Legislature in 2013 allowed the licensing of critical care paramedics. Graduates of the one-semester class, which includes many hours of both classroom and hands-on training, must be certified by the state Department of Health’s Bureau of Emergency Medical Services.

    The certification, expected later this month, means an immediate enhancement of care for patients served by AirCare, Norris said. Each AirCare flight team includes a registered nurse, a paramedic and the pilot; five of AirCare’s 14 nurses also are paramedics, and two of AirCare’s paramedics also are nurses. Up to two patients can be transported to UMMC per flight.

    “We don’t fly with physicians, but if we were at the scene of an accident and a patient needed a chest tube to save their life, our team would be able to complete that,” Norris said. “The Bureau of Emergency Medical Services recognized this void in the professional scope of practice.”

    AirCare is Mississippi’s only medical flight team that operates statewide and the only program that transports adults, children and infants. It’s also the only program utilizing isolettes for premature and ill infants and the sole program that carries blood products and an ultrasound, Norris said.

     “These paramedics are already actively taking care of sick patients, and this course will only enhance their capabilities,” said Mark Galtelli, Holmes’ program director of emergency medical technology. “They will treat the sickest of the sick.”

    Procedures that certified critical care paramedics can provide to patients in transport “can make a huge difference in a patient’s life,” said new critical care paramedic Stephen Houck of Gluckstadt, an AirCare team member for the last three years and a paramedic since 2006. “The scope of practice is one of the most advanced in the country.”

    The bar was raised through a very rigorous framework of classroom instruction and hands-on clinical experience, said Jeremy Benson of Flowood, a new critical care paramedic and Jackson base manager for AirCare. AirCare also operates a helicopter out of Meridian.

    “We practiced skills and procedures in the lab, and as opportunities came about, we’d do that on real patients,” said Benson, a paramedic for 10 years, the last six with AirCare. “We also had high-fidelity simulation lab experience as well as cadaver training to augment that.”

    “It’s as advanced as you can get,” Galtelli said of the course, which requires 90 hours of hands-on training. “It’s highly technical and highly repetitious.”

The training didn’t come without sacrifice. With eight of AirCare’s paramedics constantly in class or training during the spring semester, their fellow paramedics had to rally around them.

    “When you look at the manpower and the hours, my team became very creative in scheduling, because this is important for the whole team. While our nurses weren’t sitting in the classes, they will benefit from this,” Norris said. “This training is the expectation going forward.”

    Flight paramedics can always “go back and look at what we could have done better” with critical care certification, Benson said. “With these skills and knowledge, we’ll be prepared for the next scenario. This will give us more to give back to our patients.”

    “This is just another example of the strength of the Medical Center’s investment in the AirCare program,” Norris said. “Our desire to have all of our paramedics as critical-care credentialed is another distinguishing feature that sets AirCare apart from others.”

    AirCare by the numbers:

    • 1996 – AirCare created

    • 2.5 million-plus  miles flown

    • 17,000-plus patients transported

    • 15 paramedics, eight of them critical care trained

    • Two helicopters, one stationed in Jackson, one in Meridian

    • Three team members per flight: a paramedic, registered nurse and pilot

    • Two – maximum number of patients per helicopter

    AirCare in Jackson flies the 2010 year model American Eurocopter EC145, the civilian variant of the U.S. Army's Lakota (UH-72A), currently produced at Eurocopter's facility in Columbus. AirCare in Meridian operates a 2008 model EC 135 P2.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
Facebook
Helium debate
Helium
Twitter Updates
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide