State successes: Texas launches first air medical pediatric recognition effort

  • Published April 4, 2023
Air medical

The Texas EMSC State Partnership Program is the first to launch its pediatric recognition program into the air (medical, that is)! We sat down with Sam Vance, Texas’s State Partnership program manager, to learn more about where the idea for air medical recognition was born and how the state moved the idea into action.

Sam, tell us about your home state.

“Texas is big. Like, really big. For context, the entire state of Connecticut could sit on top of the city of Houston and still fall within its city limits. And that’s just one city!

With a population of more than 29 million, spanning across a massive 268,597 square miles, the Texas EMSC Program has unique geographic challenges, the second highest pediatric population in the U.S., and miles upon miles of rural and frontier regions as well.”

Does Texas have a Pediatric Recognition Program?

“Texas has had a robust voluntary recognition program in place since 2014. We realized we needed some program participation updates with the updated 2017 HRSA [Health Resources and Services Administration] Performance Measures, Prehospital Pediatric Readiness Guidelines, and new equipment list for ground ambulances. At first, I had concerns that the new requirements were too hard, but Texans not only rose to the challenge, they exceeded it.”

When did air medical get involved?

“When the revised program, which incorporated the new performance measures and updates, was presented to the Texas Governor’s EMS and Trauma Advisory Council (GETAC) for approval, it caught the attention of the Air Medical and Specialty Care Transport Committee, who wanted to know; “this is great, can we do it too?” And so the discussion was born on how to make the existing recognition program include air medical.”

Did you have to revise your program?

“Due to the sheer size of Texas and distance of travel, air medical transports regularly utilize both fixed wing and helicopter aircraft. The storage and weight limitations of the aircrafts were a concern, because they are unable to carry the same amount of equipment as an ambulance. I worked with the Air Medical and Specialty Care Transport Committee to revise the standard pediatric equipment list for ambulances. A taskforce was formed and we spent about six months discussing and crafting an air medical equipment list that would encompass care for children, from neonates to teenagers. In November 2022, that list was presented to and accepted by the Texas EMSC Advisory Committee.”

Why did you think it was important to include air medical providers?

“I think including our air medical providers in our recognition program is important for a couple of reasons. They respond to a significant number of scene calls that involve pediatric patients, as well as provide a significant number of interfacility transfers. So, it's just as important for them to have the appropriate resources, trained and competent staff, education, policies, medications, equipment, and supplies to provide effective emergency care for children as their ground ambulance counterparts. This also keeps in line with the primary purpose of our EMS Recognition Program: improving pediatric emergency care outcomes and patient safety within the prehospital environment by preparing our EMS personnel to provide higher quality care for infants, children, and adolescents.”

What is next?

“The next steps to the final launch (pun intended) of this program is to update the current application process to include the newly formed air medical addition.”

Learn more about Texas EMSC or learn more about the EMSC State Partnership Program in your state.