The objective of the study was to identify past experiences, present needs, barriers, and desired methods of training for urban and rural emergency medical technicians.
This 62-question pilot-tested written survey was administered at the 2008 Oregon EMS and 2009 EMS for Children conferences. Respondents were compared with registration lists and the state emergency medical services (EMS) database to assess for nonresponder bias. Agencies more than 10 miles from a population of 40,000 were defined as rural.
Two hundred nineteen (70%) of 313 EMS personnel returned the surveys. Respondents were 3% first responders, 27% emergency medical technician basics, 20% intermediates, and 47% paramedics. Sixty-eight percent were rural, and 32% were urban. Sixty-eight percent reported fewer than 10% pediatric transports. Overall, respondents rated their comfort caring for pediatric patients as 3.1 on a 5-point Likert scale (95% confidence interval, 3.1–3.2). Seventy-two percent reported a mean rating of less than “comfortable” (4 on the scale) across 17 topics in pediatric care, which did not differ by certification level. Seven percent reported no pediatric training in the last 2 years, and 76% desired more. The “quality of available trainings” was ranked as the most important barrier to training; 26% of rural versus 7% of urban EMS personnel ranked distance as the most significant barrier (P < 0.01). Fifty-one percent identified highly realistic simulations as the method that helped them learn best. In the past 2 years, 19% had trained on a highly realistic pediatric simulator. One to 3 hours was the preferred duration for trainings.
Except for distance as a barrier, there were no significant differences between urban and rural responses. Both urban and rural providers desire resources, in particular, highly realistic simulation, to address the infrequency of pediatric transports and limited training.