Patient Care

Re-Directing EMS EDUCATION

The National Association of EMS Educators (NAEMSE) has completed a first draft of the National EMS Education Standards, which will replace the DOT National Standard Curricula for„EMS. The new standards will provide minimum learning objectives for each level of„EMS personnel licensure, help educators determine what material to cover and guide publishers who develop instructional materials.„

The standards are part of the EMS Education Agenda for the Future and build on the National EMS Core Content (CC) and National EMS Scope of Practice (SOP) Model. (Find the draft standards at„www.nemses.org. Click on ˙Related DocsÓ for the Education Agenda, CC and SOP.)

The standards cover the four new EMS provider levels as described in the SOP: 1) Emergency Medical Responder (EMR), similar to a first responder; 2) EMT; 3) Advanced EMT (AEMT); and 4) Paramedic. The document indicates the competencies and knowledge required at each level in each content area, and clinical behaviors and judgments that should be exhibited by each competency level.

˙These education standards will allow us to quickly respond as clinical research and guidelines change,Ó says Project Director Debra Cason, RN, MS, EMT-P, the EMS program director at Southwestern Allied Health Sciences School, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. ˙We_ve been writing these standards since November, and some already are outdated.Ó

Many EMS educators need more detail than the standards provide, so NAEMSE is also developing Instructional Guidelines, a companion document to the standards that will assist program leaders and instructors develop curricula and lesson plans.

Although the standards are still in flux, the draft includes estimated hours for student competency. For example, it estimates it would take 166Ï198 hours to cover the EMT material. The Project Team notes, ˙[the SOP] identifies several EMT skills not addressed in the current EMT-Basic curriculum, such as aspirin administration, prescribed patient medication administration, pulse oximetry and the use of automated blood pressure devices. It_s important to provide EMTs with the pertinent knowledge to support these skills.Ó

The Project Team also posted several questions with the standards, including: ˙Would the proposed estimate of hours for the EMT pose a challenge for you or your EMS system? If so, please provide comments that identify the topics or information that you would recommend deleting. Please be as specific as possible.Ó

Memphis (Tenn.) Fire Department Deputy Chief Gary Ludwig, who chairs the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) EMS Section, says, ˙We have concerns how this will affect volunteer and combination fire departments.Ó The IAFC EMS Section held a meeting in July to draft its comments on the proposed standards.

NAEMSE must submit the final version of the standards to NHTSA and the Health Resources and Services Administration_s EMS for Children Program by September 2008. Between now and then, Cason and her team will consider comments on the first draft, revise the document, post another draft, and then introduce a final (or close-to-final) draft at a February National EMS Stakeholder meeting.

˙We_re really in the preliminary stage on this,Ó says NHTSA EMS Chief Drew Dawson. ˙We will continue to toss things out for review and listen seriously to community input.Ó

Meanwhile, a group of EMS leaders met at the National Registry of EMTs in August to consider how to implement the standards and the rest of the EMS Education Agenda. ˙We need an implementation plan, and it_s incumbent on our organization to take the lead on that endeavor,Ó says National Association of State EMS Officials President Fergus Laughridge, Nevada EMS director.

Cason says, ˙We_ve received lots of good feedback with very insightful comments and recommendations. Now we have to decide how we can make everyone happy.Ó