February 10, 2011

Program gives area medics insight into trauma care

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Ryan Romans, a medic with Cheatham County EMS, got to observe Vanderbilt’s LifeFlight crew in action through the new iFly ride-along program.

Program gives area medics insight into trauma care

A new Vanderbilt LifeFlight program dubbed “iFly,” designed to broaden and strengthen understanding of how Vanderbilt University Medical Center cares for trauma patients, is being offered to area medics who often call for helicopter transport from the field.

The “iFly” program will allow local EMS providers to fly with their patients, so they can see firsthand how LifeFlight's nurses and paramedics deliver patient care, and how this care continues into the Emergency Department.

“This is a huge experience that will benefit field medics in their understanding of what happens when we lift off,” said Michelle Brazil, R.N., EMT-IV, a flight nurse with LifeFlight 3 based in Clarksville, Tenn., and chair of LifeFlight's public relations committee. “We are extremely excited to offer such an exceptional educational experience to our customers.”

Ryan Romans, a medic with Cheatham County EMS in Ashland City, Tenn., participated in the program's test stage and said it was “amazing.”

“It was the most teachable moment in EMS that I have had in five years,” Romans said.

Shortly after 5 a.m., on Oct. 8, 2010, Romans and his partner were on the scene of a motor vehicle accident where a 25-year-old man, who was not wearing his seatbelt, had rolled his vehicle several times into a tree.

The patient was found about 10 feet from his car. Romans and his partner requested LifeFlight's assistance at the scene. They were busy providing care in the back of their ambulance when the aircraft arrived.

“When the crew got in the back of the ambulance I asked if I could fly with them,” Romans said. “I got it cleared with my supervisor and off we went.

“The crew could not have been nicer and went out of their way to make sure I was comfortable. I really didn't expect them to be so accepting of having someone flying with them and the passion they had in teaching and using the moment as a great education experience was unbelievable.”

LifeFlight’s new iFly program helps area medics learn more about how Vanderbilt cares for trauma patients. (photo by Anne Rayner)

LifeFlight’s new iFly program helps area medics learn more about how Vanderbilt cares for trauma patients. (photo by Anne Rayner)

“It was an awesome experience for the medic,” said Lis Henley, R.N., chief flight nurse for LifeFlight 3.

“Ryan was very excited and we were so glad he got to go on the flight and follow the patient through the system.”

Romans said the flight was an eye-opening experience.

“Frankly I had never thought about how little information they have going into a scene,” he said. “It's very much like the ground EMS arriving on a scene. You just don't have much information about what's going on and you get very little (information) via the radio. It was really interesting to see what the flight crews are looking for in patient care, and what information and assistance they hope to receive from the ground EMS crews,” Romans said.

The 12-minute flight to Vanderbilt provided Romans the opportunity to watch the flight crew in action as they were providing advanced care. After landing at VUMC, the patient was quickly taken to the Emergency Department.

“Arriving at VUMC was quite a moment,” Romans said. “It was really neat to watch everyone work together and how the system flows.”

For the past two months, with the help of Shane Johnson, assistant director of Logan County (KY) EMS, the iFly program has been fine-tuned.

Logan County is the first EMS agency that has had all staff participate in the training program.

All EMS providers who participate in the program will receive a unique shirt identifying them as having flown with iFly.