Russell Baker, D.O., an assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso), is on a mission to close the gaps in emergency medicine service (EMS) education for the city’s first responders to emergencies.
EMS personnel are the paramedics and fire/emergency medical technicians who take care of patients before they arrive at a hospital. While working in the Department of Emergency Medicine, Baker came to realize that there were limited educational opportunities for EMS personnel in El Paso, and few chances for them to interact with the hospital professionals that receive emergency patients.
It was out of that need that TTUHSC El Paso’s first EMS Conference was born last year. And on April 20, Dr. Baker helped lead TTUHSC El Paso’s annual EMS Conference for the second year.
“For a city this size, this kind of education is really needed,” Dr. Baker said. “Our goal is to make this an annual conference that offers our prehospital providers a little bit more training and education than they have been getting, so that we can help them accomplish their jobs and build strong relationships with hospital emergency teams.”
Baker started the conference with Katherine Raczek, M.D., now a third-year ER resident in TTUHSC El Paso’s Department of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Raczek said attendance has doubled over last year, with about 40 paramedics, EMTs, EMT students and Paul L. Foster School of Medicine students attending in 2018.
“This year the theme is ‘Performing Under Pressure,’” Dr. Raczek said. “Basically, we’re trying to touch on a couple of topics related to things that have happened in the nation, like natural disasters, mass casualty incidents and mass shootings.”
In addition to hands-on training, the goal of the conference is to improve relationships and teamwork between EMS personnel and emergency medicine doctors, so that the transition of care is smooth when patients enter a hospital.
Keelin Boulware, an El Paso firefighter, has attended the EMS Conference both years. He said the conference allows him to talk to in-hospital providers and learn how they think about patient care.
“What’s going on in the field is sometimes different versus what’s going on in the hospital,” Boulware said. “So, we need to get on the same page because it improves patient outcomes. When you’re dealing with patient care, if you know about what’s going on with the patient long-term, it can affect how you treat the patient in the short-term, acute setting.”
The morning of the conference was dedicated to classroom learning, while the afternoon had breakout sessions with hands-on training in the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing’s Regional Simulation and Training Center. The 12,000-square-foot facility trains health care professionals using an interprofessional model. The center trains nurses, nursing and medical students, residents, physicians and ancillary personnel to work as a team, leading to improved communication and, ultimately, better patient outcomes.
Lectures from TTUHSC El Paso emergency medicine physicians and residents, plus the capabilities of the simulation center, allowed EMS personnel in El Paso and Southern New Mexico to receive education not typically available in the area, which will better prepare them to care for patients.