WASHINGTON, D.C.—Effective delivery of emergency medical care for children outside of the hospital relies on certain equipment, medications and guidelines. A new joint policy statement in Annals of Emergency Medicine from five expert groups provides recommendations for pediatric readiness in emergency medical services (EMS) systems, which includes the personnel, equipment and physician-directed treatment protocols involved in dispatch, on-scene care, transport to the hospital and other essential EMS functions.
“Effective emergency care often begins outside of the hospital walls,” said Jeffrey M. Goodloe, MD, FACEP, immediate past chair of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) EMS Committee and member of the Board of Directors. “Collaborating to strengthen the infrastructure for out-of-hospital emergency care of children will improve systemwide efforts to treat some of our most vulnerable and precious patients.”
ACEP jointly created the policy with the American Academy of Pediatrics, Emergency Nurses Association, National Association of Emergency Medical Services Physicians, and National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. Key recommendations for EMS systems and agencies include:
- Consider the unique needs of children in EMS planning and development of EMS dispatch protocols, operations, and physician oversight.
- Make sure that equipment and supplies designed for children are available and that EMS professionals are trained to use them appropriately.
- Include care for children and families in emergency preparedness planning and exercises, including concerns relating to unaccompanied children in the event of a disaster.
- Enhance communication with patients and families by using easy to understand terms. Have a process to address language barriers for non–English-speaking patients and family members.
- Create policies and procedures to allow a family member or guardian to accompany a child during transport, when appropriate and feasible.