Lessons in saving young lives

Training was part of Wis. Emergency Medical Services for Children conference

Published On: Feb 24 2013 04:54:26 AM CST   Updated On: Feb 24 2013 09:41:24 AM CST

First responders in rural communities received some crucial training over the weekend to make sure that they can help young ones in an emergency.

With a tiny life in their hands, students have mere moments to make a decision.

"It's a little more rare for us to have PEDs (pediatrics) that we deal with, and it's important to understand the differences between the adults and the younger ones," said Chuck Piper, EMT from the Montfort Rescue Squad, looking on as his classmates perform chest compressions on a simulator.

The day of training was part of the Wisconsin Emergency Medical Services for Children conference sponsored by the UW School of Medicine.

Dr. Michael Kim, chief of Pedicatric Emergency Medicine for the American Family Children's Hospital, said many of the participants are from rural communities and don't get many opportunities to learn how to work with young patients.

"90 percent of the kids requiring emergency care are being taken care of by non-pediatric specialists," said Dr. Kim. "So we are really increasing the skill set by teaching these providers to be aware of pediatric special needs."

Nearly 50 medical providers from across Wisconsin worked with lifelike mannequins during simulated emergencies.

"Seizures, kids with cardiac problems, child abuse, and starting an IV, it can be a difficult issue," said Dr. Kim.

Piper agreed. "We're getting exposed to a lot of stuff beyond the training I had," he said.

Regardless of their level of experience, the students said they are fortunate to have the realistic training.

"I think pediatrics is very interesting but it's also one of my weak points," said Matt Liebhauser, EMT with UW Emergency Medicine. "If I screw up, I feel ashamed that I did it wrong and I'll never forget it."

But there are worse things then making errors in the classroom.

"It's good to make your mistakes in this setting," said Piper.

The UW hopes to continue this training every year, so health care providers continue to have the tools they'll need in an emergency.