Meet the advanced care paramedic (ACP), a highly trained individual whose skills enable him or her not only to deal with emergencies but to support other ambulance services, healthcare systems and communities to improve patient outcomes.
In a rapid medical response unit, the ACP is deployed with an ambulance to the appropriate emergency situation, creating a mobile emergency room. The ACP can stabilize cardiac, respiratory, diabetic and trauma conditions and a variety of other medical emergencies. He or she can lead cardiac arrest situations with technology that applies cardiac pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), use mobile cardiac monitors and initiate mobile intravenous (IV), and administer medications. The ACP has access to technologies that can save lives and stabilize patients more quickly than before. The advanced care paramedic is a one-person rapid medical response unit with the capability of an emergency room. Also known as an ACP Rover Unit, this vehicle along with an ACP can support the basic life support ambulances, local hospitals, community paramedicine projects, public education and leadership.
The role of the ACP is twofold. In the first instance, an ACP can now operate as an individual, without the presence of an ambulance. Response time is quicker as the ACP can listen in on the airwaves and make a singular decision to attend a medical emergency. Arriving on the scene, the ACP will assess the situation and if his/her skills are needed, the appropriate action can be taken. Once stabilized, the patient can be transported by the ambulance crew, leaving the ACP free for other emergencies.
The ACP can also stay with the patient. If STARS (Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society) is needed, the ACP can start critical interventions that reduce patient-care time provided by STARS paramedics before the helicopter can leave. It means less time and expenditure for STARS, and the patient arrives at hospital that much sooner. It’s all about the patient first, having ACPs on the scene within minutes rather than waiting 40 or 50 minutes or longer for help to come from somewhere else. Saving that extra time can lead to increased survival rates as well as less time in the hospital, cutting down on expenses for the health region and taxpayer.
The ACP can assist doctors with critical patients to carry out advanced cardiac life support, trauma life support, and advanced pediatric and neonatal resuscitation. The ACP is mobile, with a wealth of training that can be used to fill gaps and expand rural medical teams.
Training and learning remain an ongoing part of the ACPs’ professional lives. Each paramedic is required to attain 20 credits a year plus mandatory training, with biennial requalifying exams. Their progression to the status of advanced care paramedics will literally be a lifesaver and a welcome bonus to the communities they serve.
By Andy Labdon