Paramedics take training to the next level

Wanda English Burnett, Editor

Rapid sequence intubation, advanced airways, neurotransmitters are medical terms not everyone comprehends. However, they translate into a sentence that is more widely understood, “techniques used to save a life.”

Four days last week Ripley County paramedics sat under the teaching of Charles (Chuck) Skinner, clinical educator for PHI Air Medical for the state of Texas. The veteran critical care paramedic has been in the emergency medical service for nearly 30 years and works in close connection with the Red River Medical Institute out of Keller, TX.

Local paramedics were able to take part in the critical care paramedic class, allowing them to learn techniques that goes far beyond what they are able to do now. They learned a variety of things in the classes that offered hands on training. Their goal is to absorb all the information given, practice until they can perfectly administer the procedures taught and then save lives in Ripley County.

According to Ripley County EMS Director Scott Huffman, after only the first day of training, he and other paramedics knew they could implement some things that would change the way they care for patients. He said just as paramedics check their bags at the beginning of each shift to make sure they are ready for a call, they will now practice rapid sequence intubation, (making it possible for someone to breathe when they can’t on their own) before every shift.

While the paramedics have protocol to follow when it comes to implementing new techniques, they are already qualified to intubate a patient. With the new practice procedure they will be less hesitant and have more confidence. “Thankfully this isn’t something we have to do everyday, but we want to be ready,” noted Huffman.

The tough course gave paramedics a greater understanding of what critical care really is. “We have a greater knowledge base on critical thinking and critical patient assessment,” noted Huffman. And, in the rural area they serve, it’s important. Skinner, who is an expert in his field, said while his city counterparts might not agree with his statement, he said “it is imperative that rural areas have critical care paramedics due to location.” The significance of having paramedics trained in critical care is the difference between life and death, according to Skinner.

About the class Skinner said, “This is about improving your ability to deliver advanced care to the residents of Ripley County.” He told the paramedics training is ongoing, it never stops. They will always be learning, increasing their knowledge base, improving their ability to care for those in need.
The impressive credentials behind the name of the instructor came with years of experience both in the classroom and in the field. He cautioned the paramedics about administering techniques, and their role in “making” or “breaking” an already disastrous situation.

“They (paramedics) saved my life,” one Ripley County resident recently shared as she told how they came to her house when she was having a heart attack. She noted that they knew the right thing to do to minimize any damage to her heart.

Having a paramedic make a diagnosis and begin treatment before the patient was ever transported was critical to the medical outcome.

The latest critical care class paramedics took simply gives them even more knowledge and training to upgrade the care they administer to the next level, according to Huffman. He concluded by saying, “We don’t want to be just followers, we want to be leaders in the (paramedic) field.”

Attending the class along with Huffman were other Ripley County paramedics: Don Bowman, Mike Sieverding, Sue Carey, Carmen Elliott, Jenny Frye and Dean Wise. Also taking advantage of the advanced course were Amanda Sherwood, a paramedic from Rush County, Brian Pate, respiratory therapist and Angie Huffmeyer, Emergency Room RN, both from Margaret Mary Community Hospital, and Janice Hosmer, MMCH EMS Coordinator and a paramedic.

This week paramedics will be sitting under the training of pediatric expert and certified flight registered nurse LeeAnn Jones-Fewell, where they will gain even more knowledge on how to treat a pediatric patient in a traumatic situation.

Carmen Elliott and Sue Carey, paramedics with Ripley County, practice difficult airway techniques on a manikin under the direction of critical care expert Chuck Skinner from Red River Medical Institute in Texas. The paramedics recently spent four days learning techniques that will take their level of care for Ripley County patients to a whole new level.