(Salt Lake City, Utah) – Children and adolescents make up 31% of Utah’s population and when injury or illness occurs, specialized EMS training and equipment is needed to care for them. In noting that important contribution to society, Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert has named May 20, 2015 as Utah Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) Recognition Day. Jolene Whitney, Program Manager for the EMSC program in the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) says, “The purpose of the annual EMS for Children Day celebration is to raise awareness about the need to improve and expand specialized care for children in the prehospital and acute care settings.”
The prehospital treatment of pediatric patients can mean the difference between life and death of a child. For example, respiratory problems with pediatric patients are treated very differently than adults. Whitney says, “Kids are not little adults and the cause of pediatric respiratory distress is different, the proper medication dosage for children is weight based, and the way you treat them is often different than how you approach an adult.” And, for most prehospital providers, treating a pediatric patient is a rare event, which makes caring for them very intimidating. Training becomes that much more important.
EMSC also sponsors a free program for parents of children with special health care needs. These children have complicated health problems and it’s critical that first responders have access to specific information when they respond to an emergency involving these kids. The Children’s Health Information Red Pack (CHIRP) program works to ensure that information is readily available. CHIRP Program Director and EMSC Clinical Nurse Consultant, Tia Dalrymple, explains parents are able to register their child online, ensuring that up-to-date information is available for EMS providers if a parent must call 9-1-1 for their child with special health care needs. Dalrymple says, “The overall program objective is to improve the care of a child with special health care needs in their moment of need.” More information can be found at https://health.utah.gov/ems/