In 2014, Emergency Departments across the United States were asked to participate in the National Pediatric Readiness Project. This project evaluated each state’s overall preparedness to care for Pediatric Emergencies both in day-to-day operations, as well, as preparedness for pediatric surge. Tennessee had the highest score in the nation with a mean score of 89%!
However, one of the largest gaps identified was pediatric patient needs and equipment. The Knox East Tennessee Healthcare Coalition has always had pediatric surge capacity and capabilities ranked high on its community HVA. In order to help mitigate and prepare for this known risk, the coalition has chosen to focus on pediatric planning, training, supply enhancement and exercises.
Training opportunities with emergency departments and emergency medical service providers were designed by the Comprehensive Pediatric Center within the region to meet both medical and trauma scenarios utilizing a coalition funded pediatric high fidelity simulation mannequin. Working groups from both community emergency departments and EMS looked at supply needs for pediatric patients under 8 years of age and gaps were addressed.
Each hospital has received a cart of basic re-hydration and trauma supplies to treat an additional 20 pediatric patients. (above basic state requirements). Carts are organized uniformly and instructions on use and upkeep have been developed to share with each receiving facility. Additionally, exercise plans for this period will focus on pediatric surge/care.
A tabletop exercise was held on April 27, 2017, with coalition partners including hospitals, EMS, EMA, blood center, medical examiner, and area schools. The exercise focused on community management of a surge of pediatric patients, when both the Region’s Level 1 Trauma Center and Pediatric Center were at capacity. This same scenario was carried out as a Full Scale Exercise in October of 2017.
Additionally, On June 27, 2017, the KETHC presented Region II EMS with pediatric surge supplies for each ambulance unit in the region (286). These supplies will allow EMS to expand its ability to care for the pediatric population, especially in the event of a surge situation. Each unit was given one Pedi-Sleeve (pediatric dosing system) and four pediatric-sized tourniquets.
This prioritization of training and community resources has allowed the Coalition to expand its ability to care for a surge of pediatric patients within our region. Not only has this project enhanced disaster preparedness, but the day to day care of the vulnerable pediatric patients. This comprehensive project is invaluable when you look at the impact it could make to save lives.
The KETHC was proud to be part of this comprehensive pediatric project and see that funding provided through ASPR (Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response) is used to improve surge capacity and enhance community preparedness for emergencies. This project has been highlighted on several local news stations as well as the Knox County Health Department website.