Word on the Street: Going Global

Word on the Street: Going Global

By Rob Lawrence Sep 06, 2013

The Pan American Trauma Society (SPT) is the lead organization for the advancement of trauma care systems in the Americas. Headquartered at the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Medical Center in Richmond, VA, the society seeks to improve trauma care by enhancing trauma systems, educating health care personnel, and emphasizing injury and violence prevention.

Its mission is to encourage the exchange of knowledge and information between physicians, nurses, prehospital providers and other healthcare personnel who take care of injured patients in North, Central and South America. The SPT was officially founded in Bogota, Columbia, in 1986, after Dr. Armando Baqueiro had the idea to create a society for which the main objective was to improve the management of trauma patients among Latin American countries.

There is wide belief in the prehospital world that to get a surgically viable patient to the operating table after trauma requires a high-quality EMS operation. A good EMS system is a prerequisite in the delivery of the platinum 10 minutes of intervention in the field before the surgeon saves a life within the golden hour, placing the 'system' into trauma system.

The Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) has partnered with SPT for a number of years. SPT members have passed through VCU, from new medical students through senior and experienced surgeons to the PTS president herself, all having spent time at RAA. Our self-imposed mission has been to demonstrate how the delivery of world-class EMS compliments the skill of the surgeon and leads to improved outcomes.

All those who have passed through our doors have left with the full understanding of how focused EMS delivery creates the conditions for a higher quality trauma system and ultimately better patient outcomes. One particular PTS program that delivers a steady stream of students and surgeons to Richmond is the SPT International Observership program, which is open for qualified foreign national members who wish to visit and observe certain clinical and educational activities of affiliated trauma centers for a short period of time.

The society's programs also include educational conferences, academic and training courses, and peer-reviewed publications, as well as advocacy at the local and national levels. The SPT Annual Congress in particular has gained an international reputation with the participation of leading health professionals in trauma and critical care from around the world.

The society also authors the Pan American Journal of Trauma, produced in Richmond under the leadership of Dr. Rao Ivatury, who is the immediate past professor of surgery of the VCU Department of Surgery’s Division of Trauma, Critical Care and Emergency Surgery. The journal is published biannually and has been an important vehicle to present several unique and important researchers from several countries of the Americas. The editorial board includes leaders in trauma and critical care from North, Central and South Americas.

Recently, as part of this program, RAA opened its doors to a visiting trauma fellow for two weeks. Dr. David Scavo, a Mexican surgeon, who at the time was completing his trauma fellowship in Cali, Colombia, joined RAA to immerse himself into the organization and gain an intimate knowledge of high performance EMS. The two-week program provided a complete overview from emergency medical dispatch to every aspect of the delivery of field operations. Considerable time was also spent studying the essential supporting elements of RAA without which the service could not deliver its high quality product. These support functions include the logistic operation which ensures all vehicles, equipment and medical supplies are maintained in excellent condition, as well as the make ready process of stocking, decontaminating and recycling vehicles ready for the next shift.

A Spanish-language podcast delivered by RAA as part of the "Word on the Street" series and the SPT edition linked to this introduction is presented by Richmond Ambulance Authority Manager Shannon Daniel, the operations quality assurance manager for the Richmond Ambulance Authority. She is a former high school Spanish teacher with a master’s degree in education. Her studio guest is David Scavo, MD, and was recorded as he came to the end of his two-week placement with the Richmond Ambulance Authority as part of his international observer program to the U.S.

Rob Lawrence is chief operating officer of the Richmond Ambulance Authority. Before coming to the USA in 2008 to work with RAA, he held the same position with the English county of Suffolk as part of the East of England Ambulance Service. He is a graduate of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and served in the Royal Army Medical Corps. After a 22-year military career in many prehospital and evacuation leadership roles, Rob joined the National Health Service, initially as the Commissioner of Ambulance Services in the East of England. He later served with the East Anglian Ambulance Service as director of operations. He is also a member of the EMS World editorial advisory board.

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