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Community June 09, 2011

YNHH extends its teaching expertise to area paramedics, EMTs

Yale-New Haven Hospital has an excellent reputation as an academic medical center that extends beyond the staff it trains to the community where it provides training, certification and continuing education to hundreds of area paramedics, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and dispatchers.

Yale-New Haven and the Hospital of Saint Raphael jointly operate the New Haven Sponsor Hospital Program (NHSHP) — the largest and oldest in Connecticut — and provide initial and ongoing training to emergency medical services (EMS) providers in New Haven and its surrounding towns.

Carin Van Gelder, MD, ED attending at YNHH, is the program's medical director. She and a staff of three work with 22 agencies — from fire and police departments to ambulance companies. YNHH receives approximately 3,600 emergency transports from these and other agencies each month.

The New Haven Sponsor Hospital Program provides basic training in a 15,000-square-foot facility on Willow Street in New Haven. Paramedics and EMTs gain first-hand experience at YNHH and other hospitals where they learn about trauma, obstetrics, burns, stomach illnesses, respiration, behavioral health and emergency medicine.

"Our physicians, nurses and staff do an excellent job of exposing paramedics and EMTs to what they need to know to skillfully treat patients in the field and successfully transport them here," said Dr. Van Gelder. David C. Cone, MD, also an ED attending, is the director of Yale School of Medicine's EMS fellowship whose fellows assist in the training of paramedics. The paramedics receive 1,500 hours of training over the course of two years to become licensed. EMTs need 145 hours of training to become certified. Paramedics must continue training in ECGs, pediatrics, drug administration, intubation, stroke and more, which is done at the Willow Street facility.

A NHSHP protocol finalized last year has already contributed to improving the important "door-to-balloon" time it takes for a patient suffering a heart attack to get to YNHH's catheterization laboratory for life-saving angioplasty.

With the new protocol in place, paramedics — now trained to interpret 12-lead ECGs — who suspect a heart attack can activate the cath lab so the team is ready to treat the patient as soon as he or she enters YNHH.

Paramedics are also now trained to call the receiving hospital as soon as they suspect that a patient is having a stroke. Dr. Van Gelder calls them "ambassadors" because they play such an important role in educating the public on what these symptoms are. As with heart attacks, fast action can save stroke patients from death or debilitating injury.

"The greater New Haven area is fortunate to have paramedics and EMTs who are well trained and then receive superb ongoing training — it never stops," said Mariane Carna, vice president, Heart and Vascular Services and Adult Emergency Department. "Many times, the care a patient receives before being admitted to YNHH can have a positive impact on their outcome."

IN THE PHOTO: Dr. Van Gelder (left) recently met with staff near the ambulance bay entrance in the Adult ED. They are (l-r): paramedic David Tauber, education coordinator, responsible for training; Kevin Burns, PA, YNHH's EMS coordinator and liaison between YNHH and EMS agencies; and Al Gambino, director of NHSHP's overall program. More information about NHSHP is available at www.sponsorhospital.org.

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