JACKSON, CA - The American Legion Ambulance Service (ALA) has become the first in California to complete the Critical Care Emergency Medical Transport Program to improve the quality of care for critically ill patients.
The critical care transport program teaches paramedics specialized patient care in areas including cardiac and pediatric care to treat critically ill patients that need to be transferred from one facility to another. A critically ill patient needs a higher level of ambulance transport service that previously required a nurse or medical staff member to ride along. With the new certifications, American Legion Ambulance (ALA) paramedics can transport critical patients directly to a care facility without delays.
“This program is important for Amador County because it allows us to provide a higher level of service and reduce wait times to transport patients that need specialized care,” said Michelle Clark, operations manager of the Amador County ALA who spearheaded the initiative to complete training in critical care transport. “It’s very exciting for us because it a real benefit to the community and is a process that we have worked on for many years.”
The critical transport program requires a board certification and 202 hours of educational and clinical training that ALA paramedics Michelle Clark, Larry Petite, Tim Guzman and Dave Barstow completed from the University of Maryland during their free time, on nights and weekends. They received certification from the International Board of Specialty Care and accreditation through the regional Emergency Medical Services- Mountain Valley Emergency Medical Services Agency.
“The training has expanded our scope of practice allowing us to take infusion patients, patients on ventilators and cardiac patients that would previously require a nurse to transport,” said Larry Petite, ALA paramedic. “The training allows us to move high risk patients directly to Sacramento, Modesto or Stockton to receive care.”
Connie McKenna, Sutter Amador Hospital nursing supervisor, and Nora O’Neill, mentorship facilitator at SMCS, facilitated the clinical education for the critical transport program including clinical hours in the Emergency Department, obstetrics, critical care, adult cardiac care, pediatric critical care and neonatal ICU care at Sutter Amador Hospital and Sutter Medical Center Sacramento.
“The critical transport program benefits our patients and members of the community as it reduces wait times and allows us to see more patients in the Emergency Department,” said Nancy Leland, director of the Sutter Amador Hospital Emergency Department.
Prior to the program, nurses would have to accompany critically ill patients in the ambulance to receive specialty care at a different facility. This process created wait times and delays.
“We identified a need in the community to create a partnership with the hospital to better serve Amador and Calaveras counties and are happy to see it come to fruition,” said Al Lennox, president of the American Legion Ambulance.
Additionally, the ALA purchased a new bariatric ambulance that is specifically outfitted for the needs of very critical patients.
With the addition of the new ambulance and four paramedics trained in critical care transport, the ALA can provide critical care transport at all hours of the day.
“It’s great to be the pioneer and first in California to complete the program,” said Clark. “It would not have been possible without the supportive team of doctors and nurses at Sutter Amador Hospital and Sutter Medical Center Sacramento.”