PHTLS Continues to Grow in Resources and Faculty

It has been a busy year for the Prehospital Trauma Life Support (PHTLS) program with the introduction of the 7th edition, new courses and resources, and additions to faculty in the U.S. and overseas. The existing PHTLS courses were extensively reworked and the PHTLS for first responders text and course was rolled out. Adding to that, online versions of PHTLS became available as an option for course sites to use, along with live training and as a stand-alone continuing education opportunity.

New Text and Course

Along with revised versions of the PHTLS military and civilian texts for the 7th edition, a totally new text, PHTLS Trauma First Response was released. This text was designed for trained emergency medical responders, police, firefighters and other first responders. It also has applications for factory workers, teachers and anyone who may be at the scene at the time of injury, and in a position to provide initial care while EMS personnel respond.The text and the companion course were designed to be applicable for anyone with minimal or even no previous training.The eight-hour Trauma First Response (TFR) course was field-tested on a variety of audiences, including high school students with no previous training. All of the test site participants reported an increased comfort level with facing injured patients and their ability to provide some assistance. PHTLS faculty have been provided TFR materials in their instructor kits and are qualified to provide the course. For those that are National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) emergency medical responders, the course qualifies for CE through the Continuing Education Coordinating Board for Emergency Medical Services (CECBEMS).

Tactical Combat Casualty Care

Our Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) course continues to grow rapidly, with over 70 participants in our course at EMS World Expo and instructor training ongoing all over the U.S. and overseas (see below). The Tactical Combat Casualty Care Committee continues to provide updated material to our faculty to ensure the program is up to date with the latest battlefield data. While this course is being used for military and civilian tactical providers, we are also developing a version that is specific to civilian environments and hope to have information available on progress soon.

Online Education

To assist our course sites by providing options for potential students with time constraints, and to support our mission of making the PHTLS course content available to everyone who can benefit from it, PHTLS has released online courses.

The first option is specifically for course sites. In this model, the student registers for a course at one of our course sites and is directed to the online course for the didactic portion of the course and written evaluations. Then the student will complete skills and skill testing at the course site to receive full reverification and certificate. The second option is for students who don’t have access to a course and/ or just want to get eight hours of CE credit for doing the didactic part online. This will not get the student a PHTLS card; they would have to go through a course site and do the live training to achieve that. We are excited about the opportunity for e-learning to expand our abilities to get trauma training to more providers.

Growing PHTLS Family

PHTLS has trained over 600,000 providers in over 50 countries since the first courses were offered in the late 1970s and early ’80s. This year, Egypt and Serbia joined the international faculty and Paraguay will be restarting their program in November as a part of the Pan-American Congress. Initial training is also taking place to develop faculty in Singapore and Brunei. Jordan has also begun to work toward bringing PHTLS in.

PHTLS has also partnered with the United Nations mission in Nairobi, Kenya, and the mission in Haiti to establish training sites for health workers rotating through missions there.

Over the last couple of years, our international faculty has begun to organize regionally with annual meetings that look at issues specific to their region. They’re playing a larger role in countries throughout their region, developing sites and providing faculty for training. These meetings also provide working groups that assist in translating materials, providing input on content and developing quality assessment/quality improvement (QA/QI) initiatives that the entire international network of faculty will benefit from.

In February, the first-ever PHTLS Latin America meeting was held in Quito, Ecuador. The group collaborated in translating PowerPoint presentations for all of the PHTLS courses and made plans to assist one another and new countries coming into the program. The group will meet again in September 2012 in Uruguay. This collaboration has already borne fruit. In September, dozens of representatives from PHTLS faculty in nine countries came together in Quito for a PHTLS/TCCC rollout. Faculty that had trained in PHTLS-sponsored TCCC programs in the U.S. and Latin America conducted an initial course for faculty candidates and then monitored the new faculty in a teach-back at a second course. This kind of collaboration will help in making PHTLS relevant to their environments and allow us to benefit from the enthusiasm and skills of our Latin American faculty on an international level.

PHTLS Europe has met several times in Europe and the U.S. and plans to meet again in February 2012 in Wiesbaden, Germany. The group has been instrumental in providing feedback and content for the 7th edition and has assisted with promulgation into Eastern Europe and Asia. They also have put together work groups to look at development issues and a QA/QI meeting will be held in the U.K. in December to work on some practices for application in all PHTLS activities. With a standing TCCC faculty in Spain, and new instructors trained from France, Switzerland and Italy, we hope to run a European TCCC rollout in Europe as we did in South America.

We are hoping we will soon have a Middle East/Northern Africa region to continue building regional working groups to help program growth and accountability.


New things on the horizon for PHTLS include a Trauma Symposium. This full day of trauma lectures and panels will premiere at EMS World Expo in New Orleans next October and we hope to run it every other year. We will assemble trauma experts from all over the world to present and participate in a panel discussion, which will include audience questions.

We will continue to enhance our online offerings with a refresher and instructor update feature in the future. We also hope to have smaller trauma-related CE options.

PHTLS continues to grow with the help of enthusiastic faculty all over the world. We are reviewing research, publishing reviews and aggressively pursuing every opportunity to make our program more accountable to our patients and the providers who care for them.

Will Chapleau, EMT-P, RN, TNS, is manager of the ATLS Program for the American College of Surgeons and a member of the EMS World editorial advisory board.