In a busy metropolitan area, getting emergency medical education to providers isn’t that difficult. Across great swaths of rural territory, it’s more challenging.
Online learning is one solution, and the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians’ hybrid PHTLS course—which combines computer-based and live instruction in the NAEMT’s internationally recognized Prehospital Trauma Life Support CE program—is now improving the trauma-care arsenal of EMS crews in sparsely populated parts of Colorado.
“It’s catching on, especially out in the rural areas,” says Roy Ramos, who coordinates PHTLS delivery across the state for HealthONE EMS, based in suburban Denver. “All the didactic is online, and you come in for one day of skills. That’s where you can apply. And we’ve found when students have been doing their own work and studying their own way, they seem to learn a lot more.”
The model has helped Ramos bring PHTLS and other courses to distant areas like Colorado’s four corners, where call volumes are low and classes may be impractical, but trauma calls are a big deal.
“They get very few trauma calls, but when they get one, it’s significant,” he says. “They may have a 30-, 45-, 60-minute transport time to an appropriate facility if the helicopter isn’t flying, and that’s a lot of burden and stress. Having the tools of PHTLS to help them during that long transport is just invaluable.”
Developed by NAEMT in cooperation with the American College of Surgeons’ Committee on Trauma, PHTLS emphasizes the special needs of the multisystem trauma patient and promotes critical thinking as a foundation of care. It is based on the Committee on Trauma’s Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) program and is taught in more than 40 countries.
HealthOne offers other NAEMT courses too, including Advanced Medical Life Support (AMLS) and Emergency Pediatric Care (EPC), as well as Trauma First Response, a one-day “light” version of PHTLS for non-EMS practitioners (first responders, firefighters, police) who may deliver initial care or be part of a transport team. “It’s a new course we’ve offered it six times since its inception,” Ramos says, “and it’s been really well received.”