[Hospital paramedic. An interprofessional blended learning concept to qualify paramedics and medical personnel for deployment in intensive care units and emergency departments during the COVID-19 pandemic]

G Jansen, E Latka, F Behrens, S Zeiser, S Scholz, S Janus, K Kinzel, D Thaemel, H-W Kottkamp, S Rehberg, R Borgstedt
Der Anaesthesist 2020 October 9

BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a time-critical expansion of medical staff in intensive care units (ICU) and emergency rooms (ER).

OBJECTIVE: This article describes the development, performance and first results of an interprofessional blended learning concept called hospital paramedics, qualifying paramedics and additional medical personnel to support ICUs and ERs.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: The Protestant Hospital of the Bethel Foundation (EvKB), University Hospital OWL, University of Bielefeld in cooperation with the Study Institute Westfalen-Lippe, developed a 2-stage blended learning concept (stage 1 e‑learning with online tutorials, stage 2 practical deployment) comprising 3 modules: ICU, ER and in-hospital emergency medicine. At the beginning, the participants were asked about their sociodemographic data (age, gender, type of medical qualifications) and subjective feeling of confidence. At the end, a final discussion with the participant, the practice instructor and the supervising physician took place and an evaluation of the deployment by the head of the practice and the hospital paramedic was carried out using questionnaires.

RESULTS: Within 6 weeks 58 (63%) of the 92 participants completed the online course and 17 (29%) additionally completed their traineeship. In the ICU they assisted with preparing catheter systems, medication and nursing, performed Manchester triage and initial care in the ER. After completion hospital paramedics were significantly more confident when working in a hospital, catheterization and tracheostoma care (p < 0.05). Of the supervisors 94% deemed the deployment as useful and 100% of the participants were prepared to be available at short notice in their areas as compensation for the COVID-19-pandemic in the event of a staff shortage. Through the provision of additional intensive care ventilators and monitoring units in the period from March to the beginning of May 2020 and the personnel management that was carried out, the EvKB was in a position to increase the number of previously provided ventilator beds by potentially >40 ventilation places.

CONCLUSION: Blended learning concepts, such as hospital paramedics, can quickly qualify medical personnel for use in system-relevant settings, relieve nursing staff and thus create an expansion of intensive care capacities. Existing or pending pandemic and contingency plans should be complemented by such blended learning training so that they are immediately available in case of a second pandemic wave, future pandemics or other crisis situations.

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