The lives of people with disabilities have changed dramatically over the past 50 years. Just decades ago, many individuals with disabilities would have been institutionalized; hidden away from society. But with greater understanding and broader social support, those with physical and mental challenges are now leading fuller, longer, and more active lives. Which means that as EMS responders, you will encounter these individuals with greater frequency.
How do we prepare ourselves for the challenges of treating patients with underlying disabilities? Like any medical situation, the best defense is preplanning: educating ourselves as to the types and ranges of disabilities we may encounter. So, this month in SSCOR's Emergency Preparedness News, we are focusing on serving patients with special needs.
IT ALL BEGINS WITH ASSESSMENT
As with every patient, a thorough assessment must be conducted to discern the underlying medical issue. But what happens when the patient you are trying to assess has special needs, which may interfere or even prohibit a thorough assessment? Our first article deals with assessing an array of special needs patients, from autism to sensory impairments to those with intellectual difficulties. The second focuses on pediatric patient assessment in the presence of special needs.
- Concurrent Disabilities Can Complicate EMS Assessment and Treatment in Emergency Situations
- Children with special health care needs: EMS assessment and treatment tips
Here are a few ideas for enhancing emergency response in your area for patients with special needs. There's a lot you can do to improve the system!
SPECIAL RESPONSE INCIDENTS
Not every special needs call involves a typical emergency. What about those special responses involving hazardous materials? The following is an article dealing with CBRNE (chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear, or explosive) incidents. In today's dangerous world, these incidents are becoming more common. Be sure you are ready to protect those vulnerable patients in your area.
DEALING WITH THE MECHANICS OF SPECIAL NEEDS
Many individuals with disabilities require elaborate machinery to support normal physiological functions. Ventilators, feeding tubes, IV pumps, and even sophisticated wheelchairs can pose obstacles to patient care. Here is a great article that provides guidance for such situations.
THE CHALLENGES OF AUTISM
Autism has been getting a lot of attention lately in the press. That's because we are learning more about this complex condition and the broad spectrum of disabilities it represents. To better inform EMS responders on dealing with autistic patients, here are a few articles that discuss some of the challenges. The first deals with the interactions of law enforcement and autistic individuals and how difficult it can be to differentiate them from suspicious criminals. EMS responders can learn from these interactions and adopt some of the educational programs now implemented by police and sheriff's departments.
- Information for Law Enforcement
- First-responders need to learn how to care for growing number of special needs children
RECOGNIZING AUTISM MEDICATIONS
Below is a great summary of some of the medications you may encounter when responding to patients with autism. If the patient is unable to communicate, recognizing the various meds used to treat this condition can help identify underlying issues.
AND FROM THE SSCOR BLOG...
Patients with special needs can be of any age. So, to better prepare for such patients, here are two articles from SSCOR that focus on special populations: suctioning complications in the geriatric patient and a quick review of the pediatric airway, both of which may help when dealing with individuals with special needs.
- Suctioning the Geriatric Patient: Several Complications to Avoid
- Respiratory Emergencies: Know Your Pediatric Airway!
Be sure to sign up for the SSCOR Blog so that you can stay up on the latest trends in emergency preparedness!