Guttenberg EMS receives critical care authorization

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The Iowa Department of Public Health, Bureau of Emergency and Trauma Services have recently authorized Guttenberg EMS as a paramedic and critical care transport service. 

“This is a milestone in the continued growth of our ambulance service and our commitment to providing the best care possible to the community and the people that GMH serves,” states Kim Gau, CEO of Guttenberg Municipal Hospital. "Not all rural access hospitals like GMH have the transport capabilities of a ground critical care service like we now have in Guttenberg.”

Dr. Jeffrey Hoffmann, medical director of the GMH emergency department and EMS agrees.  “The field of EMS has changed dramatically over the years,” states Hoffmann. “Guttenberg EMS today in many ways mirrors the capabilities of medical helicopters and will be a greater asset to the hospital, community and the patients that we treat with this new authorization.”

GMH frequently will use Lifeguard helicopter out of UnityPoint-St. Luke’s or another service if a patient is critically ill or injured and needs to be transported to a larger hospital for treatment. There are also times when weather or other reasons will not allow the helicopters to fly. “In these cases we now have an enhanced local resource,” Hoffmann said.

The planning and preparation to seek an upgrade in the ambulance service authorization by the state has taken a number of months.  “We had to obtain some additional equipment and develop new protocols," stated Robin Esmann, EMS Director. GMH also hired a couple of paramedics with critical care endorsement and plan to train others to that level.  “The critical care paramedics that we have, had to complete training above and beyond the paramedic level,” Esmann said.  Training for these paramedics took place at or through the Emergency Medical Services Learning Resources Center (EMSLRC) at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Esmann stated, “For someone to go into the field of EMS today can take a number of years and many hours of training to complete.” The entry level program is the emergency medical technician (EMT) program.  That program is 136 hours and is usually done on a part-time basis.  GMH is presently teaching this program in conjunction with NICC at GMH.  The paramedic program is more of a full-time program and can take up to two years to complete.  The paramedic program consists of 1,160 hours of instruction, 260 hours of supervised hospital clinical time, and 360 hours of supervised paramedic field time. The critical care paramedic program is 94 hours above and beyond the paramedic program and includes classroom instruction, hands-on labs and clinical observation.

“Rural access hospitals from time to time need to transfer patients who are either critically ill or injured or who need services above what are available locally,” said Esmann.  “GMH is pleased to have taken the steps to build upon our ambulance service and take it to the critical care level.” 

People interested in learning more about Guttenberg EMS along with employment opportunities as drivers or training opportunities to become an EMT should contact Robin Esmann at (563) 252-5531.

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