It is midnight and there has been an accident involving multiple vehicles 22 miles south of McCall. The sheriff and local ambulance service are at the scene. The St. Luke’s McCall emergency department team is notified that three people are injured and will require treatment at the hospital.
“It may have been a training exercise this time, but it is this type of high-level, scenario-based education that improves our skills and keeps the St. Luke’s McCall emergency department team prepared,” said Kate Dealaman, MSN, RN, CPEN, outpatient service line manager.
St. Luke’s McCall recently hosted the Rural Trauma Team Development Course, offered by the American College of Surgeons and attended by the St. Luke’s McCall’s emergency department core team of physicians and nurses, paramedics, and EMS staff from McCall, Donnelly, Cascade, New Meadows, and Riggins. The Midas Gold safety officer, Saint Alphonsus’ trauma coordinator, and the St. Luke’s pediatric trauma program manager from Boise also took part.
A coordinated, team-based approach to trauma, along with the appropriate tools, is essential to improving outcomes. According to the American College of Surgeons, while 25 percent of Americans live in rural regions, more than 60 percent of the trauma deaths occur in these remote geographic areas. The American College of Surgeons developed the course to help improve the quality of trauma care in rural communities through a team approach that addresses common problems in assessing and stabilizing injured patients at the scene of the accident.
Rapid assessment and preparation of trauma patients for early transfer is crucial for optimal outcomes. Last year, St. Luke’s McCall served 4,723 patients in the emergency department, with 170 of those – 4 percent – transferred to other facilities. Of that number, 49 of were classified as trauma patients.
“Where the real benefit comes from a course like this is getting everyone involved, from the EMS and paramedics in the field to the emergency room doctors and nurses, and the regional trauma centers,” said Dr. Todd Arndt, emergency department medical director. “This enables us to standardize processes for assessment, stabilization, communication, and defining community resources, which leads to improved efficiencies and better care and outcomes for the patients.”
The course was facilitated by the trauma medical director and program manager from Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene, the only other facility in Idaho to receive the training.
The all-day program included team scenarios for a multiple-car accident and ATV accident that allowed the team to apply what they learned by establishing and practicing their defined roles and responsibilities, practicing effective communication, preparing the emergency department to receive and care for injured patients, identifying local resources available, and initiating the transfer process early.
The training was made possible through a FLEX grant received by the St. Luke’s McCall Foundation from the State Office of Rural Health for $20,000. The grant also funded two essential pieces of equipment for trauma care.
A plasma water bath thawer allows laboratory staff to safely and quickly thaw blood transfusion products. The second piece of equipment purchased is a mobile trauma cart; it contains all the necessary and essential equipment and supplies needed during a trauma event. Since it is a mobile unit, it can be used in any of the exam rooms in the emergency department, operating room, or elsewhere in the hospital.
The Foundation’s purpose is to support all of St. Luke’s McCall’s efforts to provide better care, everything from securing grants to funding equipment, services, and education.
“Community investment, donations, and grant funding are necessary to sustain and continue to advance our medical center’s services, and purchase new equipment and state-of-the art technology that are unusual to find in a community our size,” said Jenny Ruemmele, foundation director. “Philanthropic support attracts top physicians, nurses, and clinical staff.”