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Posted by By Medic One Foundation November 24, 2023 on Dec 1st 2023

Skilled paramedics enrich community health

Skilled paramedics enrich community health
According to the American Heart Association, over 430,000 Americans from cardiac arrest each year. Hailee, 34, would’ve been one of those Americans were it not for the quick work of highly trained paramedics.

Just five days after giving birth to her second child, Hailee woke up in the middle of the night coughing up fluids and screaming for her husband, Mark, to call 911. Within minutes, firefighters arrived, followed by Bellevue Fire Medic One paramedics John Baxter and John McNeil.

When paramedics arrived, they found Hailee in respiratory distress, and within minutes, she had no pulse and firefighters began CPR. Baxter and McNeil quickly intubated Hailee and began administering critical medications. Hailee’s life was endangered and required hospital transport via a Medic unit. En route to the hospital, Hailee went into cardiac arrest several more times, but Medic One paramedics train for months on cardiac arrest response so were ready to assist.

“When things are the worst possible, we’re able to kick into action, and it’s instinctual at that point,” Baxter says.

Hailee spent four weeks in intensive rehab. Two years later, she is improving every day. “We are so lucky to be where we are today,” says Hailee’s husband, Mark. “Thanks to the care received and the many donors supporting the Medic One Paramedic Training Program, Hailee is here to watch our two girls grow up.” 

Training saves lives

“Our region has one of the best survival rates for those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. Much of these statistics are due to the rigorous training that paramedics undergo,” says Dr. Marc Bellis, M.D., emergency physician at Overlake Medical Center and medical director for Bellevue Medic One. Medic One Foundation is the primary funding source for the Medic One Paramedic Training Program, which provided Baxter and McNeil with their advanced skills and knowledge. The foundation has invested $32 million in paramedic training, research to improve patient outcomes, lifesaving fire department equipment, and citizen responder CPR/AED/first aid training.

In King County, Medic One paramedics are firefighter/EMTs. Students are chosen for the program by their fire department. A minimum of three years of field experience is required before entering the 10-month training program housed at Harborview Medical Center.

“While in training, these future paramedics work 60-80 hours per week, much like a first-year medical intern,” Bellis says. “They learn to provide advanced care like performing blood transfusions, administering medications, and placing breathing tubes in the field. Paramedic students are taught by physicians and learn the principles of evaluation and resuscitation of the critically ill or injured patient. All life-threatening medical emergencies are addressed, including trauma, sudden cardiac arrest, heart attack and stroke.”

As a result of this comprehensive approach, our region’s paramedics are trained to standards far exceeding national recommendations. By graduation, students log 2,100-plus hours of clinical, classroom and field experience, over twice the national recommendations of 1,100 hours. Students also make more than 600 patient contacts, three times the paramedic training program national average.

In many areas around the nation, paramedics go out on every call — even calls that don’t require advanced levels of training. King County’s tiered response system allows paramedics to work with patients who require specialized services consistently and, therefore, keep critical patient-care skills up to date.

It pays off. The 20-28 new mobile intensive care paramedics placed in Puget Sound communities each year consistently achieve a sudden cardiac arrest survival rate two to three times greater than in most other U.S. cities.

“Having these highly trained paramedics go through the program gives King County the highest level of pre-hospital care in the United States,” Bellis says. “It helps me sleep better at night knowing my family would receive excellent care if there were an emergency.”