Men and women in uniform put their busy schedules on hold this Wednesday to attend Porter Regional Hospital’s EMS Symposium – a day of educational presentations to help EMS responders tackle the clinical, legislative, and operational aspects of providing trauma care. This week is National EMS Week, a time to appreciate the first responders whose work often means the difference between life and death.
“We do a lot of what a doctor does, except that we do it at 55 mph in the back of an ambulance,” Gary Ludwig, Deputy Chief of Emergency Medical Services with the Memphis Fire Department and the symposium’s keynote speaker. “We’ll do it in the dark alleys and the tight little bathrooms. All those little things that allow the procedures and the life-saving drugs that we give, those things are the same things the doctors do, except we’re doing them in less than optimal conditions.”
The EMS appreciation week serves the dual purpose of demonstrating to the public the services that EMS responders provide and enhancing the quality of those services through continuing education.
“All the average person really knows is that you dial 911 and someone shows up at your door and get you to the hospital,” said David Cummins, M.D. and EMS Medical Director for Porter Regional Hospital. “This is EMS Week, so we’re trying to do a lot of things to promote EMS appreciation and make people aware of where their pre-hospital medical care comes from.”
“The goal overall is to give patients life saving procedures and life saving treatments 30 minutes before you reach the hospital,” added Ludwig. “Those critical minutes are key to survival.”
Police, EMS responders, trauma surgeons, administrators and even students came together to engage during the symposium and further their knowledge. Benefiting from such a wide array of healthcare providers, participants were able to contribute to the ongoing process of determining the future of healthcare and trauma response.
“The reason we put together a multi-speaker panel today is because we have some physicians and other clinicians, we have EMS Fire representation and police so that we can draw from all care providers,” said Cara Vice, assistant administrator at Porter Regional Hospital. “We have a very diverse group.”
When people from various aspects of the healthcare world agree to work together, the quality and efficiency of healthcare dramatically improves.
“One of the things I’m trying to do is unify all EMS services in Lake and Porter County, when it comes to education and training,” said Cummins. “I want to get all EMS providers and local hospitals to work together.”
By working together, healthcare providers can tackle and overcome some of the challenges Northwest Indiana faces in providing EMS services.
“Trauma is becoming a big deal for the state of Indiana,” said Vice. “When you look at maps of who has access to a trauma center, there are very few in Northwest Indiana. So the reason we’re trying to address trauma is it’s necessary and it’s needed. It’s a big boost and benefit to the community. And the starting point for that is education.”
In the event of a medical emergency, education serves all involved parties.
“We’re incredibly grateful for the services that EMS providers are able to do,” said Dr. Anthony Baldea, trauma and burn surgeon at Loyola University Medical Center. “First responders are incredibly helpful in getting patients to us. It’s a mutual appreciation in the relationship that we have. Education is beneficial to us, to them, and to the patients.”
Members of the Symposium couldn’t stress the importance of education enough.
“Education is continually important to EMS professionals. This is a constantly changing and evolving profession where we have new things that are constantly being learned and that can be taught to our providers,” said Ludwig. “The only thing that is constant is change. So the only way you can remain good at what you’re doing - and be the best you can - is to be up on all the current treatment modalities. That’s what makes these types of educational seminars so vitally important.”