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Grant Aids Emergency Care for Children in Maine

BANGOR, Maine -- It has been approximately a year since Northern Maine Community College received the nod to administer what could be called a life-saving grant.

Lives may have been saved because nearly 200 first responders, emergency medical technicians, paramedics and hospital staff members from throughout Aroostook County are better prepared to deal with emergencies involving infants and children as a result of the initiatives funded by the grant.

The nearly $13,000 award came from the Emergency Medical Services for Children State Partnership, a division of the state Department of Public Safety. The money allowed NMCC nursing and EMS faculty and staff in the college's continuing education division to concentrate on educating and better equipping County emergency medical professionals.

The administration of the grant is now complete, NMCC officials said.

To date, the NMCC continuing education division has offered 13 pediatric training sessions at locations throughout Aroostook for 192 emergency and health care workers. In concert with the training sessions coordinated by NMCC, nursing and EMS faculty from the college have assisted in several pediatric presentations and collaborated with staff at Northern Maine Medical Center in Fort Kent and the University of Maine at Fort Kent to present two pediatric conferences in the St. John Valley.

Daryl Boucher, lead grant coordinator and NMCC nursing and EMS instructor, credited the work completed through the grant with ensuring that children in northern Maine will be better served by the EMS community.

"Though much work remains to be done in the area of pediatric emergency education, we believe that the region is far better prepared for pediatric emergencies than it was just 18 months ago," he said

Leah Buck, NMCC assistant dean of continuing education, acknowledged that in the past, most County emergency responders had to travel a significant distance to receive training on how to work with a critical pediatric patient.

"This grant allowed us to offer the training directly to a large number of local providers who typically wouldn't be able to travel to a course, because of funding or time restrictions," she said, adding that a number of training participants were part-time providers or volunteers from smaller towns in the County.

"Reaching them with this training was very important and will make a huge difference on how they handle pediatric emergencies in the future," Buck added.

There were several components to the grant beyond providing training. A second funding component was designed to support additional public awareness and education on pediatric care issues. To accomplish that piece, NMCC nursing and allied students conducted research, completed visual presentations and participated in the first Fall and Winter Sports and Recreation Show held in Presque Isle last fall.

NMCC students also gave presentations on various safety topics to middle and high-school students in Mars Hill and Fort Fairfield.

The final area funded under the grant involved the purchase of equipment to establish a resource center on the NMCC campus for area medical and emergency care professionals who treat pediatric patients.

Last year, NMCC bought a LIFEPAK monitor and simulator in order to interpret pediatric cardiac rhythms. This equipment is used for training by students in a number of NMCC allied health programs. It also is available to assist in the education of EMS providers at all levels, as well as hospital emergency department and pediatric personnel throughout the region.

Additional equipment purchased through the grant has been lent to 22 organizations for use in their pediatric training programs, including area hospitals, the University of Maine at Fort Kent, and a number of County fire departments and ambulance services.

The Presque Isle college embarked on its mission to develop a rural pediatric education resource center in 2005, with support for the campaign initially generated through the development of the Megan Bradstreet Pediatric Critical Care Transport Fund. The recent grant funding has helped further that mission.

Boucher said that the grant has helped the college move closer to its long-term vision of becoming the "information, equipment and education center for pediatric care in this area."

"The work completed and equipment purchased through this grant has allowed us to take a huge leap forward in making this vision a reality," said Boucher.

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