UW Health holds trainings for emergency responders

MADISON, Wis. — UW Health’s Emergency Education Center has continued to train front line responders for all medical emergencies over the last year, including COVID-19.

Paramedics and EMT training is never complete. According to Tom Langraf, a paramedic of 20 years, he has to attend refresh courses every two years to keep his national certification.

These trainings have to continue on for the responders so that they can continue saving lives, said Michael Lohmeier, an emergency medicine physician at UW Health, and medical director for UW EEC.

“The students, the paramedics, the practicing EMT’s out in the field are still having to perform these skills and manage these patients, so we had to work really hard to find a way that we could still meet their continuing education needs,” Lohmeier said.

On Saturday, they were working on the respiratory system. The programs training supervisor, Kerry Schmitt said, “This particular training is very important because of the fact that they are dealing with airway management, COVID is very big with airway management.”

The EEC gave responders experience treating critical COVID-19 patients by practicing on Sheep or pig lungs and dummies.

Lohmeier said, “What we’re going through is how to safely manage those airways appropriately, how to do what is right for the patient while still keeping appropriate protection for the paramedics.”

These skills are last resort options, and after 20 years of being a paramedic, Langraf hasn’t had to use them. But to be able to train with real lungs allows him, and other responders, to be ready for anything.