COPE - Compassionate Options for Pediatric EMS

  • Published August 6, 2019

EMS Coping After Scene Death of a Child

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) providers are highly trained and skilled at managing the scene of a medical incident, i.e. action under pressure. However, when the best course of action is to hold back medical care, such as when a person dies or is already dead at the scene, the situation shifts; stepping aside can leave providers feeling unprepared, and their key purpose may seem unclear.

Recently, a team led by Mary Fallat, M.D., a pediatric surgeon in Louisville, KY, was awarded federal funding (HRSA TI Grant) to develop a searchable, mobile delivery system to equip EMS personnel before, during, and after they encounter an out-of-hospital pediatric death. The training system includes scenario-based videos that review communication essentials, point-of-care options for EMS to assist families with “next steps” after a death, and a section on self-help skills to mitigate personal secondary trauma that can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The delivery system incorporates principles of good prehospital communication skills referred to as “teaching moments”.The materials developed with the prior funding can be viewed on an open access website at Kentucky Board of EMS here.

To read more about COPE, check out the May 2019 issue of the Pulse.