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VCU trauma education clinicians appointed as international faculty to teach in Australia


VCU Center for Trauma and Critical Care Education assistant director Basil Asay, speaking here at a trauma symposium in Richmond, will host a two-day Prehospital Trauma Life Support course in Australia next month.


By Leha Byrd
University Public Affairs

Friday, July 14, 2017

After successfully hosting a group of students from Australian Catholic University last year, members of the VCU Center for Trauma and Critical Care Education are now heading there to teach Prehospital Trauma Life Support in a two-day intense trauma course. Upon completion of the course, attendees receive a National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians-sponsored certification.

Formed in 1975, NAEMT is the nation’s only organization solely dedicated to representing the interests of prehospital emergency medical services workers at all levels. Currently membership is comprised of more than 65,000 EMS professionals. A large part of the association’s mission is providing continuing education courses not just domestically, but now internationally.

In January, CTCCE assistant director Basil Asay was contacted by a member of the NAEMT national curriculum committee and subsequently recommended, along with CTCCE director James Gould, for appointment as international faculty to offer PHTLS in Australia. Because there is limited training for prehospital trauma in Australia to prepare and train EMS personnel, and because World Health Organization statistics state about 5.8 million people die each year as a result of injuries, VCU CTCCE is excited about the chance to share information that will be impactful, globally. Parasol EMTA is the official trip sponsor and the leading provider of first aid training in Australia.

“Our division wants to improve the accessibility and quality of trauma care and injury prevention through education both here at home and around the world,” Asay said.

Course instruction will focus on guidelines for the care of injured patients, and the patient assessment and trauma skills needed to provide prompt care for the severely injured. Primarily, facilitators’ goal is to promote critical thinking that addresses early care of a patient involved in multi-system trauma, while using the latest evidence-based treatment practices.

The inaugural PHTLS student course at ACU will be taught by Gould and Asay and begins Aug 7.  

“For EMS providers this is a widely recognized trauma certification, much like a CPR card, sponsored by the American Heart Association, would be for a community member,” Asay said.

Additionally, Asay and Gould will facilitate a second “train the trainer” style course for those who will become future PHTLS instructors. As part of the student teaching, Asay and Gould will identify participants from the inaugural course with instructor potential who can then complete the instructor course and train another cohort of students.

The goal is longstanding reciprocity, “thereby making them all NAEMT-recognized instructors and providing course sustainability for many years to come,” Asay said.

The ACU students’ trip to VCU in February 2016 included shadowing and touring various VCU Health facilities, as well as Richmond and Henrico County emergency medical response departments. Additionally, students took a tour of the VCU Health LifeEvac which transports critically ill patients. The helicopter has the same capabilities as an emergency room or an intensive care unit. At ACU, there is a university effort to ensure that at least 25 percent of students gain international experience and learn how other EMS systems operate.

Shane Lenson is the ACU national course coordinator for paramedicine, and was part of the trip students took last year. The PHLTS course will be the first pre-hospital and multidisciplinary focused trauma course in Australia, and will complement a number of existing trauma and resuscitation education programs already established there.

“Thanks to the developmental support of Virginia Commonwealth University, PHTLS courses will be rolled out across Australian metropolitan, regional and rural areas,” he said.

VCU Health, too, is committed to doing its part to combat trauma in all corners of the world.

“There is a great deal of behind-the-scenes work and logistics that has to be completed to get authorization to undertake a task such at this,” Asay said, “but our faculty … is excited to be part of this groundbreaking opportunity.”

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