ED staff trained on new equipment

In the wake of a flash flood in June that forced the closing of Columbus (IN) Regional Hospital, the ED reopened about two weeks later in a mobile unit called the Carolinas Mobile Emergency Department-1 (MED-1). To be able to operate efficiently in that new space, the ED staff had to receive a day's training and orientation from an oversight staff of two doctors, two nurses, and one paramedic who arrived with the unit.

"The ED staff knew a lot about our cardiovascular monitor because they used the same equipment, but we had to teach them how to use the X-ray equipment and the lab equipment because they used different machines, and they also had to learn about point-of-care testing," explains Tom Blackwell, MD, medical director for the Center for Pre-Hospital Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, at Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, NC, and one of the two physicians who spearheaded the development of the mobile unit.

In reality, the training was ongoing as new crews rotated in, adds Thomas A. Sonderman, MD, an ED physician, vice president and chief medical officer at Columbus Regional.

Once the staff were trained, they saw turnaround times they had never seen before, Blackwell recalls.

The efficacy of the unit was demonstrated immediately after it opened; the first patient was an elderly man who went into cardiac arrest. "He had to have his airway managed and receive ventilator support and resuscitation, after which he was 'air-vacked' to a critical care unit," says Sonderman. "Right away, we saw we could resuscitate somebody in this place."