Training provides five area fire and rescue departments with potentially life saving emergency medicines.
Time. Nothing is more crucial than time when faced with a medical emergency where minutes, even seconds, can make a difference in saving a life.
In April of 2011, medical providers, EMT’s, paramedics and staff development members from Paynesville Area Health Care System (PAHCS) stepped forward to offer a standardized training program and emergency medicines to 5 area fire and rescue/ first responder units along with the Paynesville Police department. In all, 92 fire and rescue members from Eden Valley, Lake Henry, Richmond, St. Martin, and Paynesville along with 4 policemen were taught the indications for, and use of, medications that may intercept a heart-attack or diabetic and allergic reactions.
Steve Stang, Manager, Ambulance Services, recognized the need to empower area first responder departments with these types of emergency medications.
In fact, he and Dr. Robert Gardner, Medical Director, had been working with some of the fire andrescuedepartments for a few years to provide some medical background in this area, but Steve knew that it would be most beneficial to patients, and to the first responders, to provide a uniform training class with annual reviews. He contacted the Minnesota State Emergency Services Regulatory Board with his idea and got approval to move forward with the medication training program.
“The first responder units were very eager to attend the training class and be ready to provide this if needed in their communities.”
Steve applied for several grants to provide the initial medication supplies, and was granted funds through the Minnesota EMS Region which saw this as a priority need for first responders.
Kella Bugbee, staff development coordinator for PAHCS, worked with Steve to coordinate the initial discussions and prepare a power point presentation for PAHCS Executive Team and medical providers, seeking approval for his project. Kella organized the training and materials for the 3-day training event in April, which was provided free of charge and conducted at the new Paynesville ambulance garage and training facility. “It is really wonderful to be involved in the specialized training with the men and women of our communities who volunteer to be emergency responders,” stated Bugbee. “This training will assist them in being able to respond immediately to more medical emergencies. We were very pleased with the number of rescue members who signed up for the 2 hour training course.”
Dr. Larry Strate, ER Director and Dr. Gardner participated in the training by reviewing each of the medications, the protocol for use and proper administration. Paramedic Shane Schmidt and EMT’s Clyde Swenson and Michael Noonan demonstrated the use of a breathing apparatus called the “King’s Airway”, which opens up an unconscious patient’s airway for CPR. Trainees also learned the necessary documentation and replacement procedure following the use of issued emergency medications.
The emergency medicines, prescribed by Dr’s. Gardner or Strate, are given one dose at a time to the participating squads. The medications are: Epinephrine, which comes in an auto-injector, for severe allergic reactions; Aspirin, for presentation of chest pain or discomfort of suspected cardiac event; and Dextrose and Glucagon, for indications of diabetic hypoglycemia or diabetic shock. Once a dose is administered, documentation by the first responder is completed and forwarded to Steve Stang. If proper protocol was followed, a replacement dose is immediately requested for that squad. Each fire and rescue squad and police department is responsible for monitoring their supply of medications for expiration dates, and completing annual training in the spring.
The St. Martin fire and rescue squad experienced the rewards from this training within the first 2 months. After receiving a rescue call to the home of a diabetic person who was unconscious and un-responsive, the St. Martin first responders utilized the new emergency medication training by administering an injection of Glucagon. By the time they were in transport to a nearby hospital, the patient started coming out of her un-responsive state and talking to the rescue team. “It’s a real encouragement,” stated Mike Oevermann, who spoke on behalf of the St. Martin Fire and Rescue team. “To be able to take immediate action in a situation like this, well, it means a lot. Many members of our own department have family members and friends who are diabetic. Being able to have the means to help them as soon as we arrive on the scene is a good feeling.”
At a recent monthly meeting of the St. Martin Fire Department, Stang attended to review the rescue call and answer any questions the department may have, the steps taken, or the administration of the medications. “They did a great job,” said Steve. “They most likely saved this woman’s life.” Members of the rescue squad have received praise-worthy comments from the woman’s family, who are grateful for the quick response time and medication administration. “All of our area fire and rescue squads do an excellent job,” stated Stang. “It’s exciting to watch them grow in confidence and skill. This training is just one more tool they can use to serve the residents of their communities.”
Dr. Bob Gardner
Dr. Larry Strate
Fri, December 2, 2011
by Happenings Winter 2011