Study objective: To survey emergency medical services (EMS) providers on a
national level to determine and describe their perspective regarding their
initial and continuing education (CE) needs in pediatrics.
Methods: A 10-question survey was developed, pilot-tested, and sent to EMS
providers as a part of their National Registry of Emergency Medical Technic
ians reregistration materials.
Results: Surveys were completed by 18,218 EMS providers, a response rate of
67%. During a typical month, 60% of emergency medical technician-paramedic
s (EMT-Ps), 84% of EMT-intermediates (EMT-ls), and 87% of basic EMTs (EMT-B
s) care for 0 to 3 pediatric patients. CE was identified by all provider le
vels as the main source of their pediatric knowledge and skills. A state or
national mandate for required CE in pediatrics was supported by 76% of sur
veyed providers. More than 70% of all providers responded they were comfort
able to some degree with their own ability and their EMS system's ability w
hen confronted with a critical pediatric call. Cost, availability, and trav
el distance were identified by all levels as the primary barriers to obtain
ing pediatric CE. All levels identified infants as the age of greatest conc
ern if the provider was called to manage a critical case.
Conclusion: Surveyed practicing nationally registered EMS providers have in
frequent contact with pediatric patients and have acquired mast of their pe
diatric knowledge and skills from CE. In general, these providers are comfo
rtable with their personal and their system's ability to care for children,
but clearly support the need for required pediatric CE and identify the bi
rth to 3-year age range as the priority for an educational focus. Cost, tra
vel distance, and availability of pediatric CE are barriers that should be
considered if pediatric CE is to be required of EMS providers.