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Emergency medical professionals support their participation in prevention programs

Most emergency medical services (EMS) professionals believe that they should also participate in injury and disease prevention programs, according to a national survey by emergency medicine researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

"Emergency medical service providers are the only health care providers who see people in their homes at unscheduled times, and are the most likely to identify safety or health issues in the community that need to be addressed," says study author E. Brooke Lerner, Ph.D., associate professor of emergency medicine.

"Also, many people who call for help don't go to the hospital, and EMS personnel might be the only people who see them," she added. "An elderly woman who falls and cannot get up may actually need some social services. If she is only seen by EMS, and they don't have a referral program, she might never be identified as needing outside services."

Results of her survey of over 27,000 EMS professionals, conducted as an optional part of the national registry of emergency medical technicians' 2006 re-registration process, were recently published in the journal Prehospital Emergency Care.

Nearly 83 percent of the respondents believed that EMS professionals should participate in disease or injury prevention, and about one-third already had done so.

The respondents were mixed as to whether prevention services should be provided during emergency calls. About half who responded were in favor of providing prevention services during emergency calls, and those with experience in providing prevention services were more likely to agree. Only about eight percent reported already having provided prevention services during emergency calls, and they were the most likely to approve of the practice.

E. Brooke Lerner, Ph.D., associate professor of emergency medicine and population health at The Medical College of Wisconsin, has been appointed to the National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Advisory Council's Oversight, Analysis, and Research Committee.

Dr. Lerner is an injury epidemiologist and a former EMS field provider who has dedicated her career to improving prehospital care through research. She has over 15 years of EMS related experience and has authored over 50 EMS related, peer reviewed publications. Her current federally funded projects include studying the trauma triage guidelines and developing a national consensus on mass casualty triage. Her research expertise is balanced with five years of experience working as both a career and volunteer EMS provider in Buffalo and Lancaster, New York.

In 2008, Dr. Lerner led a multidisciplinary work group that published a new national guideline for triage following mass casualty incidents. Their proposed SALT triage guideline is an acronym for Sort, Assess, Life Saving Interventions, Treatment and/or Transport. It includes a standardized naming and color-coding system to identify and prioritize patients medical needs, and was developed with the intention that it could be used to treat all types of patients in all types of incidents.


Contact: Toranj Marphetia
Medical College of Wisconsin

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