Administration and Leadership, Equipment & Gear, Training

AMR National Competition Prioritizes Safety

Issue 12 and Volume 36.

Clinical excellence and safety are two great concepts that should blend well together, and they were a primary focus of American Medical Response’s (AMR) recent National Competition. With the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop, the second annual event was held this summer in Aurora, Colo. The National Competition is hosted by AMR in partnership with the center for simulation at the Community College of Aurora (CCA). Teams from six regions across the country competed in this year’s competition.

The Competition
Each team was provided with an ambulance equipped with road-safety technology and outfitted with a full complement of medical tools and supplies. The scenario started with a dispatch to an emergency call. Each team responded and had to negotiate an obstacle course using safe driving practices.

Each team was timed for an efficiency score, but speed wasn’t encouraged as a parameter. Teams were monitored via the unit’s Road Safety system and penalized for hitting any cones or generating unsafe forces on the vehicle while cornering, accelerating or braking.

Once a team reached the emergency site, they brought the equipment they felt was necessary and worked to identify scene hazards, gain access to their patient and address the patient’s clinical problems.

All treatment, packaging and removal procedures were completed in real time without interference from competition judges. Once the patient was loaded into the ambulance, the driver was required to negotiate another obstacle course while providers continued patient care en route to the hospital. The scenario ended with a patient hand-off report to AMR’s chief medical officer, Edward M. Racht, MD.

The Simulation Factor

The major “cool factor” in this process was the ability to immerse each team into a realistic environment with all of the sights, sounds and smells of an actual call at the Community College of Aurora’s high-tech center for simulation.

The simulation method included well-oriented actors from the Colorado Film School performing as bystanders and family members, as well as patient manikins provided by Laerdal Medical Corp. that spoke, moaned, bled and cried. It also featured the professional “movie set” environments at CCA’s state-of-the-art facilities, which simulated a street corner, an industrial complex, a dive bar and the interior of a patient residence. There was no need for crews to pretend or envision an environment because what they saw and experienced was real.

The adrenaline, time pressure and emotion were also realistic, and the intensity of each critical situation was evident on the face of team members as they entered the simulated environment. Cameras strategically located throughout the lab enabled judges to discretely evaluate each team’s performance from a remote location. Each team participated in one trauma scenario and one medical scenario.

Competitor Reactions
Paramedic Dan Hall and EMT-B Michael Cool are both experienced providers from Portland, Ore., who said it’s easy to become complacent when doing this type of work every day. The competition’s realistic simulations provided a much-needed reminder about how to do the job safer.

EMT-B Beth Francis and paramedic Eric Sponsler from Concord, Calif. think a competition of this nature helps everyone involved learn and enhance their skill levels. Both were impressed with how simulation technology was used to create a realistic feel.

EMT Aimee Roberts and paramedic Chris Molnar, who is a training officer, from Bridgeport, Conn., appreciated the opportunity to meet and talk with EMS crews from all over the country, noting that although many similarities in approach and care delivery were evident, important differences were also apparent.

Denver paramedics Paul MacFarland and Luis Leinberger think healthy competition pushes you to be better and keep your game up. They stressed that each provider’s reputation was important and thought the competition was one way to represent their colleagues in a positive manner.

Paramedics Todd Rogers and Bobby Genn from Riverside, Calif., described their experience with the simulation lab as “intense and phenomenal.” Both were also impressed with the interactive road-safety technology in the ambulance to which they were assigned, citing the feedback they received as a great help in their quests to become safer drivers.

EMT Rodger King and paramedic Alain Cauper from Tampa, Fla., appreciated getting to meet the upper management from AMR in a one-on-one, informal setting and came away with a strong impression that their leadership cares about them as individuals and wants to see them succeed.

What It Took
About 35 AMR employees supported the behind-the-scenes operations, including Scott Bourn, AMR’s vice president of clinical practices and research, and national safety leadership group and clinical leadership council members. Fifteen people from CCA and the Colorado Film School managed the simulation lab, along with representatives from AMR partners American Emergency Vehicles, Laerdal Medical Corporation, Stryker, McKesson, Sedgwick CMS and Physio-Control Inc. and the host facility.

And the Winner Is …
There were no losers; at the post-competition reception, each team received a participation medal and was recognized for its preparatory routine professional approach to the event and outstanding performance.

Third-place medals went to MacFarland and Leinberger and second-place medals went to Roberts and Molnar. The previous year’s first-place winners, EMTs Dave Skolnick and Kelly Miyashiro, from Seattle, presented this year’s first-place medals and a traveling trophy to Todd Rogers and Bobby Glenn from the Riverside operation in the Southwest/Hawaii region.

At the end of a long day, it was clear that each competitor and every support person was genuinely committed to developing a culture of safety and learning how to better care for their patients. It was a job well done by all involved and illustrated that clinical excellence and safety are a logical combination for both competitions and everyday EMS practice! JEMS

This article originally appeared in September 2011 JEMS as “Simulation, Safety & Competition: Making safety a priority along with clinical excellence.”