Although the fundamentals of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) education have not changed dramatically since Creighton started its program 40 years ago, the tools of the trade, the incorporation of more preventative care training and an increased emphasis on experiential opportunities have been added. EMS graduates today have new training and sophisticated equipment to save lives.
The technology used by emergency responders has grown more sophisticated through the years. For example, automatic external defibrillators were not part of the curriculum at the beginning, but now they are commonplace. As appropriate innovations emerge, Creighton incorporates them into the curriculum. In fact, Creighton recently developed a program that focuses on obtaining an ECG by emergency medical technicians (EMTs) used to assess myocardial infarctions; an area only recently added to EMS responsibilities for EMTs. Paramedics have long had the capability to acquire and interpret an ECG, identifying whether a patient is having a heart attack. Now the technology is available for EMTs to complete the same ECG test and transmit the results to a hospital for physician interpretation, all speeding up access to appropriate care.
According to national statistics, about 250,000 individuals will present with STEMIs, the deadliest form of heart attack, annually. But there is also evidence from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that pre-hospital ECGs performed by EMS personnel, even EMTs, leads to activation of resources that can result in a 50 percent reduction in mortality. Timely diagnosis and transport to an appropriate facility is a vital factor in determining patient outcome.
“Advances in electrocardiographic machines have made it possible to acquire and transmit 12-lead ECGs to remote locations, allowing onsite diagnosis of STEMIs and the ability to transport patients to those facilities best equipped to handle these heart attacks. Training in this tool can have a powerful impact,” said Michael G. Miller, M.S., BS EMS, R.N, NRP, assistant professor and director, EMS Program, Creighton University.
Creighton is also only one of a handful of institutions offering an online master’s degree in EMS. Introduced in August, 2013, the degree offers emergency response personnel or others who might be looking for career advancement additional leadership skills and information. Courses range from organizational communication and change, to law, financial management, clinical and quality assurance, as well as enhanced skill development in emergency response areas. With nine schools and colleges, the University can leverage its interdisciplinary programming to support this degree.
“At the end of the day, helping our communities by giving them access to the best trained personnel improves patients’ outcomes and lowers overall health costs, “Miller reiterated.
Several anniversaries are being celebrated by the Creighton program this year. Not only has it been 40 years since the program began, it is also the 20th anniversary of the first bachelor of science in EMS degree.
“Creighton has been a leader in emergency medical services in this country. In fact, the Creighton program actually began before the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians offered the first paramedic credentialing examination in 1978,” Miller said.
May 18-24 is the annual EMS week, when the country celebrates EMS, its practitioners and the important work they do responding to medical emergencies.