An unprecedented series of world events—from hurricanes to heat waves, tornadoes to wildfires—natural disasters often occur without warning and have challenged in new ways the skills of the nation's flight nurses. These nurses and other medical professionals must demonstrate remarkable abilities to provide critical care in an environment that is very different from a typically-chaotic hospital emergency room—and developing those skills requires intensive training.
The National Flight Nursing Academy at Case Western Reserve University is holding its fourth annual Summer Camp 2006 for advanced practice nurses, flight nurses and emergency service personnel in emergency response. The camp, the only one of its kind in the country, will be held the week of August 14-18 at Case's Squire Valleevue Farm in Hunting Valley, Ohio.
"The focus of this intense training is to bring critical care from the bedside to the roadside," said Carolyn T. Nieman, director of the annual summer camp and lecturer at Case's Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing. "It is absolutely imperative that nurses can provide care in unstructured environments in response to any and all emergencies and natural or technological disasters."
Open to nurses, physicians, pilots, firefighters and paramedics, the camp provides training exercises to prepare teams for treating critical patients in unstructured environments, such as those following disasters. The students come from as far away as California, Texas, Arizona, New York, Florida and Wisconsin.
Today's air transport services are more than just fast ambulances, says John Clochesy, the Independence Foundation Professor of Nursing at Case and research director of the National Flight Nurse Academy. "Instead of just maintaining the patients during transport, advanced practice flight nurses make onsite diagnoses and treatment decisions, providing care before the patients get to the hospitals," he said.
In 2002, the Bolton School and MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland jointly established the nation's first academic program offering a degree to flight nurses. Graduates of this master's degree program at Case are eligible to take the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner certificate exam. The academy is a partnership between the Bolton School and MetroHealth's Metro Life Flight, one of the leading air medical services in the country.
The five-day, 40-hour hands-on training course includes:
The camp will feature a mass casualty response drill on Friday, August 18, during which participants will be able to utilize their advanced clinical decision-making skills.
"In a sense, what we're doing is preparing the public for the realities of life in the 21st century," Nieman said. "Other nations that have experienced natural disasters, terrorism and other health-related problems have been training for these kinds of contingencies for years."
As an ever-increasing number of American hospitals offer critical care air medical services to patients, it has become crucial that nurses be specially trained to meet the needs of this growing field, says Christopher Manacci, the academy's clinical director, lecturer at the Bolton School and acute care nurse practitioner in cardiovascular surgery at the Cleveland Clinic.
"Because many health care facilities today offer minimal critical care and trauma services, more air medical experts are needed to manage the care of these patients until they arrive at hospitals that provide such specialized care," Manacci said.
The master's degree program in flight nursing at Case and the summer camp prepare students to provide advanced assessment and care to patients in uncontrolled environments, care that is often available only in the emergency department or intensive care unit. May L. Wykle, dean of the Bolton School, explained that the summer camp is one element in the academy's three-pronged approach to training and education, which consists of advancing nursing practice through research, community outreach and the flight nurse program.
"The National Flight Nursing Academy's annual summer camp is an exciting venture and exemplifies Case's core values of innovative education and partnering with other institutions," said Wykle. "The program is a large part of our groundbreaking flight nursing program. It will further strengthen the Bolton School's reputation as one of the world's leading innovators in nursing education and research."
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