Intermountain Healthcare puts critical care nurses in ambulance transports

Intermountain Healthcare launched a new emergency ground transportation program that places specially trained nurses in ambulances carrying critically injured patients, KLS.com reported.

Having the right personnel treating the patient from the beginning is crucial, Kris Kemp, emergency medical director at the Utah-based system's Herber Valley and Park City medical centers, told the news outlet.

Emergency helicopters can't transport about 500 patients a year, either because of weather, terrain or because they aren't sick enough for helicopter transport, but still too sick to get treatment at a rural hospital, which is where the ambulances come in. The program partners with local emergency medical services divisions, including ambulance agencies throughout Utah, according to the article.

Wasatch County has seven ambulances, which responded to 1,300 calls in 2013, a higher number than ever because of the increase in outdoor races and activities requiring emergency care, KLS reported. Now, these ambulances will include a critical care nurse from a local hospital, in addition to the emergency medical technicians who normally ride in the rig.

Having the nurse involved with patient care from the beginning will eliminate the gap in service, hospital officials said. Intermountain plans to train at least 10 emergency department nurses at each of the seven participating hospitals in Idaho and Utah to provide the intensive care needed during critical transports, according to the article. "This will raise the level of care and provide the expertise patients require in their time of need," Kemp told KLS.

Nurses in ambulances might help improve survival rates of ground transportation. A 2012 study found adults with serious injuries are more likely to survive if transferred to a top-level trauma center by helicopter rather than by ground transport, FierceHealthcare previously reported. Patients transported by helicopter had a 16 percent better chance of survival, as compared to ground transport.

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