Ten things participants learned (or did) while attending the Paramedics Australasia USA professional development Tour… (that they didnʼt know (or do) before)!

If you visited the PA website you might have seen the invitation to join a couple of paramedics travelling to the US to attend two EMS conferences. Six people took up the offer including a communications officer (EMD or operations centre officer), student paramedic, a manager, intensive and advanced care paramedics. They participated in either the 2 day “Gathering of Eagles” in Texas, or 3 to 5 day (depending on you attendance at preconference workshops) “EMS Today” in Baltimore and some went to both.

This is a snapshot of some of the items that caught their interest:

  1. Networking opportunities!
  2. Hep B can live on a metal surface in dried blood for 7 days (reinforcing truck and equipment hygiene to avoid accidental splash contamination)
  3. Highlighting the EMD as part of the health team. Jeff Clauson spoke of potentially having call takers counsel suspected ACS (AMI) patients in taking aspirin prior to paramedic arrival, emphasising the continuum of health intervention required to optimize a patient’s earliest possible discharge and return to their normal life.
  4. Practising advanced airway techniques on real people (in the cadaver lab). Including comparing different laryngoscope blades on different peopleʼs actual airways and performing a ʻmini trachʼ
  5. Loved learning how work practices differ even within the USA alone, but how by holding a conference such as the Gathering Of Eagles they bring together the best of the best and use the findings to provide better health care for the patients.
  6. The Trade display is outstanding. One of the new traction splints was an eye opener, so small and quick compared to the cumbersome item we use, not to mention the laryngoscopes with the screens on so you are able to intubate with much more precision.
  7. Most EMS and Emergency room staff donʼt apply 12 lead dots properly. When the patient sits normally you shouldnʼt see six chest lead dots (because 1 is under the arm (mid axilla)).
  8. Ischemic Remote preconditioning: Research showing that brief periods of ischemia and reperfusion can protect the myocardium (and brain in the instance of stroke) from secondary injury. Can be achieved by 4 cycles of inflating a BP cuff on the patients’ arm to 200mmhg for 5 minutes, releasing it and waiting 5 minutes before the next cycle. (Lancet 2010:375 pg727). Can be done anytime before reperfusion – including pre hospital, and would require no new equipment to implement.
  9. Awesome opportunity to hear about some of the EMS specific clinical trials being conducted. Whether it be new treatment practices or new items of equipment. There are no conferences of this size in Australia, and being able to attend them was a very big learning experience.
  10. Tourniquets are back in vogue.
  11. Cervical collars are used based on class 3 evidence. New, related evidence now demonstrates C collars increase ICP, and the suggestion C collars could worsen outcome could not be excluded.*

Too many things to be able to just pick a “top ten”. And would the members of our Aussie Tour do it again? Absolutely! Some of them have already started saving for the EMS conference in Las Vegas next year! Why not join us?