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Arkansas is National Host for Leading Emergency Care Experts

  • Synopsis: Published: 2010-04-30 (Revised/Updated 2010-07-21) - Access to trauma centers and current issues and trends in trauma and emergency care. For further information pertaining to this article contact: ADH Office of Communications.

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Arkansas is National Host for Leading Emergency Care Experts - National Leaders Applaud Arkansas Efforts to Build State-Wide Trauma System.

Emergency medical services officials and other first-responders from across the state and nation are gathered at the Peabody Hotel in Little Rock this week for a five-day annual meeting of the National Association of State Emergency Medical Services Officials (NASEMSO). Topics at the forefront of discussions include access to trauma centers and current issues and trends in trauma and emergency care.

Representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American College of Surgeons-Committee on Trauma, American Trauma Society, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and other leading organizations with a special focus on trauma and emergency response were on hand at Riverfront Park today to recognize the state's accomplishments in building the new trauma system.

A highlight of the event was the demonstration of response practices featuring the "Jaws of Life." Participating in the demonstration were paramedics and emergency medical technicians, with both ground and air ambulance services from Arkansas. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) providers, the Arkansas Ambulance Association, the Arkansas EMT Association and the Little Rock Fire and Police Departments took part in the exhibition.

"We are proud to serve as host to this group here in Little Rock and want to take the opportunity to express our thanks to all those who serve so well in such a critical role," said Paul K. Halverson, DrPH, director and state health officer for the Arkansas Department of Health. "For us in Arkansas, the real story is how well our partners work together already and how much better we are becoming at addressing first response. Bringing experts from around the country to our state can help raise awareness that injury is the number one killer of Arkansans from 1 through 44 years of age. We know that these injuries are preventable and the work that we are doing to develop Arkansas's trauma care system will help us save lives."

"We are extremely pleased today to have applications in process from 69 out of the 86 hospitals in our state to become designated trauma centers in our state's system, and we know that more will be joining us going forward," Halverson said. "Having commitments from the majority of the state's hospitals already in hand means that we will have a more complete system from the very start."

"Access to trauma centers is a key topic on NASEMSO's agenda," said Steve Blessing, NASEMSO President. "We are pleased to be holding our annual meeting in Little Rock, as we will be showcasing Arkansas's work to improve access to this state's trauma centers. EMS professionals arriving from across the country can learn from the work being done in Arkansas and apply it where they live to help improve access to trauma centers for all Americans.

Injuries can be prevented, but when prevention fails, quick access to trauma centers saves lives. Research supported by the CDC shows that severely injured persons who receive care at a Level I trauma center have a 25 percent decreased risk of death. This means having fast access to specialized resources and equipment at a trauma center within one hour of a severe injury. Unfortunately, nationwide, nearly 45 million Americans do not have access to a Level I or Level II trauma center within one hour of being injured.

Trauma centers - hospitals with additional resources and equipment to help care for severely injured patients - are classified as Level I, II, III, or IV. Non-trauma center hospitals and all levels of trauma centers are integral to a trauma system, which also incorporates entities including, but not limited to, surveillance, primary injury prevention, emergency communications and dispatch, and EMS.

To help raise awareness about access to trauma centers and systems, CDC is releasing a web-based mapping tool that can be placed on any webpage and shows the locations of all hospitals and trauma centers across the country. Individuals can click on the map and find the distance to and locations of trauma centers and hospitals closest to them.

"Our EMS professionals are trained to make important decisions every day about where to transport severely injured patients. These decisions can make the difference between life and death or severe disability," says Richard C. Hunt, MD, FACEP, director of CDC's Division of Injury Response, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. "We are working closely with over 30 organizations and agencies to raise awareness about access to trauma centers. This new mapping tool is one key step of a larger effort."

Earlier this year, CDC also released the "Field Triage Decision Scheme: The National Trauma Triage Protocol," a standardized set of triage guidelines for EMS professionals arriving at the scene of an injury. These new guidelines are helping EMS professionals nationwide get patients the right care, at the right place, and at the right time. -more-

The EMS Education Agenda for the Future (EMSEAF) is an example of one project the National Association of State EMS Officials is leading to improve the delivery of emergency medical and trauma care in the United States. The EMSEAF is a process to reform the delivery of EMS education so that it parallels the approach of other allied health professions.

The elements are:

A core content

A scope of practice model

Education standards

National certification

EMS program accreditation

According to Dan Manz, Director of Vermont's Emergency Medical Services, the intent is to improve the professionalism and credibility of EMS education. Better educated EMS personnel will enter the profession ready to serve and continue a pathway of development throughout their careers as a result.

"In collaboration with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the CDC and many other groups, states are making excellent progress in improving emergency medical and trauma care." Manz said. The evolving trauma system in Arkansas is just one example of the quality of work being done to better serve critically ill and injured patients.

The NASEMSO Annual Meeting generally occurs in October, and the site rotates throughout the country. The NASEMSO Annual Meeting purpose is to address current issues and trends in emergency medical services systems. Programs are conducted in a variety of formats to maximize information exchange and dialog with state EMS officials on current EMS issues. Exhibits of advanced equipment, technology, and services are part of the meeting.

More information on NASEMSO is available on their website at More information and free downloads about EMS and trauma are available from CDC at

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