UC Davis Health and the Sacramento City Fire Department have established a research partnership that aims to improve care for sick and injured children during and after an emergency transport.
Every year, approximately 30 million children are evaluated in emergency departments around the nation, and about ten percent of them are initially cared for and transported by emergency medical services like the ones operated by Sacramento City Fire. Because the needs of children treated before they reach the hospital are different from those of adults, prehospital care providers need pediatric-appropriate equipment and training, and safe and effective protocols to treat children.
“Research into pediatric prehospital care is crucial for improving the care of acutely ill and injured children,” said Daniel Nishijima, associate professor of emergency medicine at UC Davis Health and one of the coordinating experts on the partnership. “This collaboration will enable us to analyze information from the earliest stages of emergencies involving children, which then will enable us to improve treatment protocols and practices at every level.”
Nishijima credits the city of Sacramento and its fire officials for being supportive of the new research effort, which part of a unique national initiative being coordinated by and partially funded through the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN), a federally funded national research network that conducts clinical research to improve emergency care for children.
“Everything we do in terms of an emergency response depends on having well-trained personnel, using proven best practices and having the right equipment,” said Chad Augustin, deputy chief for the Sacramento Fire Department. “We’re pleased to be working with UC Davis on this important research because eventually it could provide valuable insights that will enable our first responders to provide even better care for injured and ill children.”
Augustin noted that emergency medical crews handle a wide range of emergency conditions that can be very different in a child than in an adult. The fire department and UC Davis plan to create a database from ambulance transport reports that would include information ranging from airway management and respiratory distress problems, to trauma, asthma and spinal injuries. The data will not contain any identifying information, and only will be used to improve pediatric prehospital treatment and care.
The 22 hospital emergency departments that constitute PECARN serve more than one million acutely ill and injured children every year. At any given time, the network is conducting a number of major research studies that have led to multiple publications that have confirmed or changed treatment practices for acutely ill or injured children. Nine of the hospitals, including UC Davis Medical Center, are partnering with their local EMS providers to build the real-time data sets.
By working with Sacramento Fire, UC Davis, along with the eight other PECARN hospitals, will have the combined information for more than 68,000 pediatric transports per year, which will create some very robust data from which to assess how emergency treatments and protocols can be improved,” added Nishijima. “Our emergency department works with the great Sacramento City Fire crews every day, so this is a perfect extension of that relationship.”
PECARN, the coordinating entity for the partnership with Sacramento City Fire, was founded in part by Nathan Kuppermann, professor and chair of emergency medicine at UC Davis. It is the first federally-funded pediatric emergency medicine research network in the United States. The network is supported by grants from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau and the Emergency Medical Services for Children Program. It’s organized into six research nodes around the country, including one led by UC Davis.