January 19, 2001

LifeFlight provides training

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LifeFlight averages 1700 flights each year within 150 miles of Nashville. (photo by Anne Rayner)

LifeFlight provides training

Lifesaving decisions require quick thinking and constant training. Thanks to the efforts of Vanderbilt’s LifeFlight emergency helicopter program, emergency medical personnel throughout Middle Tennessee are receiving free training from Vanderbilt’s renowned medical staff and faculty.

In the last five years, more than 3,500 emergency medical technicians (EMTs), paramedics, first responders and nurses have received training as part of LifeFlight’s EMS (emergency medical services) Night Out program. Topics have ranged from cardiac care to the role of the Secret Service in providing patient care for the President.

“It’s been a very popular program,” explained LifeFlight nurse Kevin High, one of the program’s coordinators. “The EMS personnel can receive free training necessary for the maintenance of their licensing and hear some of the top speakers in the country.”

The program is held once a month in two different locations. It meets on the second Tuesday of odd-numbered months at Vanderbilt’s School of Nursing. During the even-numbered months, the program meets on the third Tuesday at Maury Regional Hospital in Columbia, Tennessee.

The Maury County program was started a year ago in an effort to help promote the new Bedford County base for LifeFlight II and to extend education efforts into the Southern part of Middle Tennessee. The program there is co-sponsored by Maury Regional Emergency Medical Services.

Each month the two-hour training program revolves around two 45-minute sessions in which two speakers direct the educational activities. Two continuing education units (CEUs) are awarded to each participant. Tennessee licensed EMTs are required to have 20 contact hours of training every two years and paramedics are required to have 30 contact hours.

“Speakers mainly come from Vanderbilt, with experts from the Division of Trauma, Emergency Medicine and LifeFlight delivering the lectures,” High explained.

Popularity of the program is spreading. When the Nashville program began five years ago, it averaged 26 students. Now each site is averaging 75 students and some classes have had as many as 130 students. High said he expected the outreach program to train over 1,000 people in the upcoming year.

William T. Petty, a regional emergency medical services consultant for the State of Tennessee, Department of Heath, EMS Division, said the program provides a valuable service.

“Vanderbilt’s LifeFlight EMS Night Out is an innovative and enjoyable way of providing continuing education,” Petty said.

High said he initiated the program five years ago because he saw the need to provide better educational support to some of LifeFlight’s biggest customers – those in the emergency medical field.

“I approached Dr. Corey Slovis and discussed how we could do this,” High said. “He provided additional support for the idea and the program grew from there.”

Slovis is professor and Chair of Emergency Medicine and also serves as Medical Director for the Nashville Fire Department EMS division. Dr. John Morris oversees the LifeFlight program. Morris is professor of Surgery and Director of Trauma. Linda Passini is the Chief Flight Nurse and Program Manager for LifeFlight. Jeanne Yeatman, assistant manager and flight nurse, works with High as a co-coordinator for the program.

“We have a great staff who take pride in providing an exceptional educational program,” High said. “Vanderbilt has some of the best talent in the nation and it’s an honor to be able to share that with the field providers of EMS.”

Utilizing two AEC117 helicopters, LifeFlight serves an area within a 150-mile radius of Nashville and utilizes a nurse/nurse team.