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Technical colleges collaborate to offer critical care transport

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College and Chippewa Valley Technical College recently joined forces to bring Critical Care Transport, a technical diploma course, to Western Wisconsin.

(11/12/12): It’s a growing occurrence as the technical colleges collaborate to offer needed courses or improved services to communities, and in this case critically ill patients. Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College and Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC), Eau Claire, recently joined forces to bring Critical Care Transport, a technical diploma course, to Western Wisconsin. The diploma is part of CVTC’s government grant designed to prepare licensed healthcare professionals to function as a critical care transport team.

 The Critical Care Transport diploma instructs students on how to troubleshoot critical care equipment and maintain stability of a seriously ill patient during transport. The patient may have significant medical issues, require multiple medications, a ventilator, have arterial lines in place or need special monitoring. This type of transport is necessary when helicopters cannot fly or are unavailable or if helicopter attendants are not trained in critical care transport.

 “We identified a need for critical care transport in the St Croix County area, which represents the west side of both (CVTC and WITC) districts,” says Terry Gonderzik, ALS Program Director at CVTC. “And Sen. Sheila Harsdorf’s office had numerous requests for such training. We wrote a grant and were given the funding for four classes in this area.”

 So far two classes – in River Falls and one in Eau Claire – are completed, with the third class starting at WITC-New Richmond on Dec. 3. All four sessions as part of the grant must be completed by June 30, 2013. They haven’t yet determined where the fourth class will be held.

 Greg Carlson, WITC emergency medical services instructor, further explains, “Students for this high level of training must have advanced life support education, and be a graduate from a paramedic program or be a licensed health care provider, such as a registered nurse or respiratory therapist, for example. They also must have experience in their respective fields.”

 The course involves two evenings a week, online learning and 12 hours of clinical education. Successful completion leads to eligibility for the Wisconsin paramedic to add the critical care endorsement and meets Wisconsin’s EMT-Paramedic to Paramedic transition requirements.

 The high cost of the course, usually up to as much as $1,500, is underwritten by the grant so that students pay a fraction of the total for the extensive training. An information session is set for Wednesday, Nov. 28, 6 p.m. at WITC-New Richmond, or contact Greg Carlson at WITC at 715.246.6561.

 Carlson points out the growing need for this type of training throughout Western Wisconsin is due to its more rural status. Gonderzik concurs, saying that critical care transport can mean life or death for the critically ill who might otherwise die in a smaller facility if they aren’t transported to a tertiary facility with the more advanced equipment needed to address complicated needs.

At times, critically ill or injured patients require transport between facilities. But they require a different level of care from the typical hospital or emergency field transport, explains Carlson.

Course training includes the use of different drugs, ventilators and complex EKG training and constant patient assessment. “Think of it as ‘intensive care on wheels,’” Gonderzik says. He also points out that more ambulance services in the area are updating their ambulances to include the necessary upgraded equipment critical to this type of patient transport.