GREAT FALLS — Assisting kids and younger adults is said to have unique needs, requiring specialized personnel, training, and equipment. The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services noted that deficiencies in these areas have resulted in historically poorer outcomes for pediatric patients versus adults.
Since 1985, federally funded Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) programs in each state have been working to improve the quality of pediatric emergency care.
Great Falls Emergency Services was recently recognized by the EMSC as Level III/Gold Pediatric EMS Service with a Safety Plus Endorsement.
"We do go on pediatric calls - calls for children and newborns," said GFES General Manager, Justin Grohs. "Those do tend to be very unique. They're relatively low frequency, but arguably high intensity. There's a lot of pressure and emotion often involved when a child gets hurt or becomes sick."
Grohs emphasized that the procedure of emergency care for kids is much different than adults.
"We try to train on those types of calls as much as we can just because no one is every truly comfortable managing a small child like that," Grohs said. "Fortunately, it doesn't happen super often, but they tend to be high intensity calls."
Brian Taylor, who is an EMT for GFES specializes in pediatric care. He explained the most common calls they respond to in regards to children.
“The younger ones, it’s usually choking, or blocked airways," Taylor said. "They like to stick things in their mouth or up their nose. Kids like to explore themselves. A lot of our calls are chocking or airway involved.”
The mission of EMSC is to implement a performance-driven healthcare system for pediatrics in Montana, ensuring that children, no matter where they live, have access to the right care at the right time with the right resources.
The Gold Recognition indicates that Great Falls Emergency Services meets the following criteria:
• The Agency has a medical director.
• The Agency provides staff with at least 4 hours of pediatric education each year and maintains pediatric education records separate from other education. • The Agency provides annual community outreach (i.e., presentations to elementary school students on EMS and Safety or a bike safety rodeo). • Each ambulance carries the required equipment and resources sized for the care of children and
• All staff have passed a Child Protective Services background check
Grohs said the State EMS office put a program together to recognize EMS services for varying levels of pediatric readiness and GFES has already met well beyond the minimum requirements. He added that being pediatric ready is a unique skill set and an important addition that they are bringing into their services.