Emergency medical services preparedness for pediatric emergencies

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The study objective was to examine emergency medical services (EMS) equipment and training preparedness for pediatric emergencies in Oklahoma.

The participants were 202 administrators of licensed EMS agencies in the state of Oklahoma.

A mailed questionnaire was used to obtain data from EMS agencies regarding emergency ambulance run characteristics, medical control, equipment, and personnel training.

There were 130 questionnaires returned (response rate, 64%). Overall, 4% of EMS emergency runs were for children under 12 years. Family medicine and emergency medicine were the most frequent specialties of medical directors. Fewer services allow personnel to perform endotracheal intubation on children (35 services) than on adults (45 services). Fewer services allow personnel to start intravenous lines on children (40 services) than on adults (47 services). Equipment for pediatric care routinely stocked on ambulances was tabulated. Most services provided intraagency continuing education, but only 71 (54%) included pediatric topics in continuing education.

Deficiencies in equipment and training for pediatric emergencies are a common problem for EMS agencies in Oklahoma. Barriers to preparedness include: 1) relative infrequency of pediatric runs and difficulty with maintenance of technical skills, 2) costs associated with increased equipment and training, and 3) hesitancy to allow personnel to perform advanced life support procedures on children.

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