Guidelines for EMS providers as they prepare for and develop operational plans for a pandemic have been published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Office of Emergency Medical Services.
The document, EMS Pandemic Influenza Guidelines for Statewide Adoption, addresses such issues as the role of EMS during an outbreak, maintaining EMS operations, workforce protection and infection control. It also provides information about dealing with people with special needs.
During last month's EMS EXPO in Orlando, FL, NHTSA EMS Director Drew Dawson told first responders they should review the document for valuable information and said it's important that EMS agencies develop a plan.
Among the issues to plan for are services becoming overburdened with calls and measures to protect the health of their crews.
Jerry Johnston, president of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, thanked Dawson for keeping EMS leaders abreast of the issues.
"For the first time, we're being invited to sit down at the table. This is very important--to have the opportunity to participate," he said.
The new executive director of NAEMT said she will focus on enhancing EMS leaders' relationships with federal partners. Pam Cohen said it's essential that NAEMT keep in touch with the CDC, NHTSA and other organizations. "There are so many issues and challenges affecting EMS. We can't afford to sit on the sidelines."
Officials have predicted a flu pandemic will cause massive disruptions that could last for months and cities, states and businesses must make plans now to keep functioning and not count on a federal rescue.
The National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza: Implementation Plan directed the Department of Transportation, in cooperation with its federal partners, to develop statewide EMS pandemic influenza guidelines, as well as model protocols for 9-1-1 call centers and PSAPs. NHTSA was delegated responsibility for both tasks. The stakeholders worked to ensure that the two reports are closely interconnected, and it is recommended that both documents, EMS Pandemic Influenza Guidelines for Statewide Adoption and Preparing for Pandemic Influenza: Recommendations for Protocol Development for 9-1-1 Personnel and Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs), be reviewed together.
The initial NHTSA guidelines were released in May and may undergo future revisions, Dawson says. The report includes the following topics:
Introduction and Background
How the document was developed Pandemic Influenza--Overview
Section 1: EMS Planning
Plans and Operational Procedures Leadership and Authority Training and Exercising A Systems Approach Public and Media Communications
Section 2: The Role of EMS in Influenza Surveillance and Mitigation
Statewide Tracking, Community Mitigation
Section 3: Maintaining Continuity of EMS Operations During an Influenza Pandemic
Workforce Augmentation Disruption of Equipment Supplies and Services Interoperable Communications
Section 4: Legal Authority
Deviation from Established Procedures Scope of Practice, Other Legal Issues
Section 5: Clinical Standards and Treatment Protocols
EMS Medical Direction Modification of Treatment and Triage Protocols Rapid Distribution of New Protocols Just-in-Time Training Fatality Management EMS Treat and Release
Section 6: EMS Workforce Protection
Protection of EMS and 9-1-1 Workforce and Families Infection Control and Decontamination Vaccines and Anti-Virals for EMS Personnel Isolation and Quarantine Considerations Support for EMS Personnel and Their Families.