PASADENA, Texas - The San Jacinto College Emergency Medical Technology (EMT) program will add ultrasound training to its curriculum to train students for on-site diagnostic work, saving precious time while transporting a patient to a hospital.
Paramedic students will train on the SonoSite M-Turbo portable ultrasound machine, equipment currently used in trauma centers yet very new to emergency medical services (EMS).
"In the Houston area, I know of only one or two EMS services using this," said Jay Cloud, San Jacinto College paramedic instructor. "General practice has typically included that we access a patient, treat, and transport.
However, EMS is at an evolutionary point where more is needed to help diagnose medical situations in an effort to determine where patients will be transported, whether it's to an emergency room, a 24-hour clinic, or a more advanced center like a Level 1 trauma center."
Training for the portable ultrasound machine is specialized. The equipment allows emergency medical professionals to go one step further in identifying an internal problem. For example, a paramedic could tell whether a woman is suffering from symptoms from appendicitis or an ectopic pregnancy, or determine patient injuries like compartment syndrome. Additionally, the ultrasound technology can be used to locate blood vessels, and facilitate in locating hard-to-find veins in patients who need intravenous (IV) fluids or medications.
A paramedic graduate trained on the portable ultrasound machine has a greater advantage when applying for positions within the industry, according to EMT program director, Joe Hamilton.
"Our graduates are going to want this on their resumes, as this skill will place them far ahead of the competition when applying for positions in the field," said Hamilton, adding that most of the EMT students from San Jacinto College land jobs before graduating.
Employment among emergency medical technicians and paramedics across the 13-county Texas Gulf Coast region remains steady, with a projected 32 percent increase in employment by 2020 and approximately 1,560 job openings over the course of the next decade, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.
Training on the SonoSite M-Turbo portable ultrasound machine is currently offered through the EMT program at the San Jacinto College Central Campus.
In the near future, the San Jacinto College EMT program will offer current professionals in the field a special topics course that will include training on portable ultrasound, as well as news and information on the most current technology and practices in the field.
San Jacinto College offers EMT degrees, certificates, and courses at both the Central and North campuses, as well as EMT distance learning courses that are available online. Additionally, the College's Continuing and Professional Development division offers non-credit EMT workforce training courses.