Are we prepared for injured kids?

How many of you are parents, aunts, uncles or grandparents with children around you?

We all know that illnesses and injuries are going to happen even with the best prevention and care. The CDC reports that North Carolina has higher than average death rates for injured children. Patient-related injury accounts for the highest death rate among children birth to 19 years old in North Carolina. Currently, there are only 124 pediatric intensive care beds in the state to care for those children and very few of them are vendor specialized pediatric intensive care beds. Therefore, there are very few special care beds for children in the state with dedicated physicians and nurses to take care of those patients.

To help explain the issue from the medical professional’s perspective, we wanted to share a few numbers and ask some questions.

  • What percentage of EMS calls involve kids?  5%
  • What percentage of medical education time is typically devoted to trauma for children? LESS THAN 5%

The critically-injured pediatric patient produces more anxiety in caregivers because there is a lack of preparedness. We have found that when medical personnel are properly trained, children’s lives are saved. Unfortunately, budget cuts and financial restrictions result in many hospitals, EMS agencies and medical caregivers focusing on general training for continuing education instead of specialized courses for treating critically injured children.

  • How comfortable would you feel caring for a child in an emergency?

The bottom line is that we all feel unprepared to care for injured kids because we don’t care for them that often. When an emergency occurs, there is no time to travel long distances for care. We have to trust that the people caring for our children are prepared and know the best way to save and care for them, but more can be done to help support and prepare these first responders and emergency care providers. That is why we deliver evidence-based care for providers at all levels – from EMTs to nurses and physicians.

  • How many of you watch reality TV?
  • How many of you have been on a plane before?

Simulation is reality-based learning – training in situations that are very close to reality. The aviation industry has used simulation technology for years by using flight simulation for pilot’s initial and ongoing training.  Experience shows you will react the way you are trained.

Simulators make learning fun and interactive. In recent years technology has allowed us to take advanced patient simulation into the classroom. Now we can go to the smaller hospitals, the EMS agencies, or the classroom and take this simulation technology to the student, instead of making them come to a simulation center.

Using advanced simulators in the classroom definitely benefits the student – whether that student is a paramedic, nurse or doctor – by giving them the chance to practice caring for a child and performing life-saving skills before they have to do it on a real patient. The pediatric trauma course supports critical thinking skills and gives access to the different equipment a medical professional might use when caring for a patient, whether it’s a ventilator or the different medications used.

We work hard behind the scenes to make sure your child receives the right care at the right time and gets to the right place for treatment. We hope you will learn more and share how we can all improve care for all injured children in the U.S.

Dr. Dennis Taylor is an acute care nurse practitioner that works at a Level I trauma center in North Carolina, and has been a paramedic for over 30 years

Gail Kluttz has been a nurse for 24 years and is the regional trauma systems nurse coordinator at a Level I Trauma Center in North Carolina

Dale Hill works as the regional trauma outreach coordinator at a Level I trauma center in North Carolina and has been a Paramedic for more than 25 years, working in the pre-hospital, hospital and academic settings

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