5 Essential Training Topics for EMS Providers

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In EMS, training is a constant. Credentialing requirements must be met. Mandates come down from the state and federal levels. And training must evolve to match the challenges providers face on the streets.

Although such changes mean your list of top training topics will always be changing, there are some essential areas for ongoing continuing education for all providers. Following are five top training topics from EMS1 Academy.

#1: Airway Management

The ability to effectively manage a patient’s airway has an impact on outcomes far beyond the initial call. But it takes practice to learn to quickly and effectively evaluate a patient’s breathing and when necessary, confidently and competently intubate a patient.

Airway management training for providers should include topics such as:

  • Deciphering lung sounds
  • Tips on opening airways
  • Bag valve mask ventilation
  • Direct and video laryngoscopy
  • How to access limited airways
  • Non-invasive capnography
  • CPAP
  • Selecting and using different airway devices
  • Advanced airway intubation

#2: Provider Safety

Provider safety is a broad topic, covering everything from assaultive patients to back injuries. But that’s what makes it an essential topic on which to focus repeated training. Incorporating provider safety courses into your training curriculum demonstrates your commitment to your personnel and can help reduce injuries, accidents and related worker’s compensation claims.

Key provider safety topics include:

#3: Trauma

With gun violence affecting many communities across the country, the need for EMS providers to respond skillfully to trauma patients has never been more important. Fortunately, techniques and equipment from the military have given providers more options than every before. And these options are useful not only for gunshot victims, but other types of trauma too—such as those injured in vehicle accidents, falls and man-vs.-machine incidents. That’s why refresher courses on trauma care basics as well as updates on new treatments are always a good use of training time.

Topics to consider include:

  • Mechanisms of injury
  • Bleeding control
  • Treating shock
  • Tranexamic acid
  • Pain management
  • Spinal motion restriction
  • The need for rapid transport to a trauma center

Incorporating provider safety courses into your training curriculum demonstrates your commitment to your personnel and can help reduce injuries, accidents and related worker’s compensation claims.

#4: Patients with Altered Mental States

In a recent report from Lexipol, 78% of law enforcement officers surveyed said it takes at least 30 minutes to get professional mental health providers on scene. This means the job of stabilizing and often transporting behavioral health patients or patients under the influence of drugs or alcohol will often fall to EMS providers, working in conjunction with law enforcement. Because of the high-risk nature of these calls, training is imperative.

Areas of focus include:

  • Identifying a psychiatric emergency
  • De-escalation
  • Therapeutic communication
  • Pediatric and elderly patients with altered mental status
  • Synthetic drugs
  • Interfacility transfers
  • Homeless patients
  • Provider frustration and burnout associated with treating behavioral health patients

#5: Emergency Vehicle Operation

Driving and operating emergency vehicles is one of the most hazardous duties performed by EMS providers. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates an average of 1,500 ambulance crashes each year that result in injury, in addition to 29 fatal crashes. Safely operating an ambulance requires constant vigliance as well as a broad-based understanding of the risks involved and the impact of vehicle accidents on individual providers and the agency.

Key driving topics include:

  • Factors that contribute to incidents involving emergency vehicles
  • Complexities of driving under emergency conditions
  • Defensive driving techniques
  • Hazards of intersections
  • Risks of backing apparatus and vehicles
  • Adverse driving conditions
  • Danger of distracted driving
  • Danger of fatigued driving

There’s no shortage of training topics for EMS providers but focusing on these five areas can help ensure your training program is hitting high-risk areas and preparing your personnel to deal with some of the most challenging calls they’ll face.

Looking for resources to provide such training? EMS1 Academy offers full-length courses for many of these topics that meet CEU requirements and can be used for credit toward state and national license renewal for EMTs and paramedics.

Lexipol Team

Lexipol provides public safety and local government with solutions that combine the impact of information with the power of technology. We serve more than 2 million first responders and local government officials with policies, training, grant assistance and news and analysis.

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