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EMS Program to Present Compelling Research to National Association

June 27, 2013 -- After a rare education research endeavor, CNM faculty members in the Emergency Medical Services program will present their compelling research findings at the National Association of EMS Educators conference Aug. 5-10 in Washington D.C.
EMS Program to Present Compelling Research to National Association

Jul 17, 2015

Faculty members in the EMS program have determined that an accreditation body’s new interpretation of the number of airway management procedures paramedic students must perform before they can be certified is not achievable through live-patient clinical and internship experiences. An example of an airway management procedure is the placement of a disposable breathing tube through a patient’s mouth or nose into the windpipe.

In August 2012, the Committee on Accreditation for the Emergency Medical Services Professions (CoAEMSP) released a new interpretation of the airway standards for accredited paramedic programs. It said, “The paramedic student should have no fewer than 50 attempts at airway management across all age levels” and that the student “needs to be 100 percent successful in the management of their last 20 attempts at airway management.” CoAEMSP also called for the procedures to be done with live patients or in realistic simulation labs.

“We initially thought this interpretation of the number of required airway procedures seemed high, especially since our paramedic training program is only three terms long with the first being classroom and labs and the second and third rotations in hospitals and ambulances,” said Michael Voss, associate dean of CNM’s School of Health Wellness & Public Safety, and a study participant.

As a result, CNM teamed up with Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell’s EMS faculty to conduct a study to determine if the CoAEMSP airway management requirements are obtainable. They used a data management system provided by Fisdap, a Minnesota-based company that sells software that tracks everything students are doing during their field and clinical internships, including procedures performed, hours logged and location of clinical rotations such as hospitals or ambulances.

Among Fisdap’s many services it supplies to its 750 participating EMT/paramedic-training schools is facilitation of EMS educational research. In fall 2012, Fisdap coordinated a two-day conference in Las Vegas, N.M. attended by eight faculty members from ENMU-Roswell and CNM. The intent was to determine the feasibility of students performing 50 airway attempts during their paramedic program training. Participating from CNM were Michael Voss, Dana Voss and Nikki Arana-Oquendo.

The faculty members analyzed data on clinical hours and clinical airway attempts collected from the Fisdap database system between 2001 and 2011. They continued their research for six months after the initial conference.

“We looked at 9,265 records that showed an average of 11.5 recorded airway management attempts per student, a significant difference from the 50 attempts mandated in the standard,” Voss said.

Their research showed that if students spent 1,001 to 1,500 hours in the field working on an ambulance or rescue unit, and clinical hours are 600 to 800, the 50 hours of airway management would be feasible. However, in reality the average number of hours a paramedic student spends in the field is 430, and the time in the clinical setting is 202.5. Based on these numbers, 98 percent of the actual student numbers of airway attempts fell below the 50 called for by the CoAEMSP.

The faculty participating in the study noted that the CoAEMSP standard is not achievable in the typical internship/clinical timeframe. “Based on these results, in order to meet the CoAEMSP standard of 50 airway management attempts, paramedic programs must build in at least 40 lab airway management experiences for students,” they concluded in the study.

CoAEMSP’s interpretation of the number of airway management procedures a paramedic student needs to complete must be adhered to by all paramedic schools in the country – including the five schools in New Mexico (CNM, the University of New Mexico, San Juan College, Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell and Doña Ana Community College).