Testing and building skills, one emergency at a time
The call seemed routine at first. It was just after 1 p.m. and the radio alerted Andrew McCoy to respond to a car accident on Interstate 5.
McCoy, an emergency medicine physician, is the University of Washington’s first Emergency Medical Services (EMS) fellow.
He had no idea until he arrived at the scene that one victim had to be extricated from the car's windshield.
He went to work alongside the paramedics and other responders. It was his sixth medical call of the day, and he hadn't had lunch yet.
“You can read about it all you want but you don't really get it until you are actually out there with limited resources in a challenging environment trying to figure out how you are going to take care of this guy,” he said.
It was just three years ago that the American Board of Medical Specialties recognized EMS as a subspecialty. UW's fellowship is directed by Michael Sayre, professor of medicine and associate medical director for the Seattle Fire Department. It is funded in partnership with Physio-Control, a medical device manufacturer based in Redmond. The yearlong fellowship, which started July 1, will give McCoy the training to become a medical director of an EMS agency.
“When people come up through the system like I did, you had to learn on the job,” Sayre said. “We are now allowing these fellows to build on the learning we did.”
Fellows need to understand the world where care is delivered, Sayre explained.
“It’s not in a nice clean hospital. It’s important that young doctors get this experience. The potential impact this fellowship has on patient care is tremendous.”
Sayre and McCoy see this role as a way of doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people. McCoy is eager to share his experience and knowledge with other physicians and clinical researchers far removed from the first-responders at the accident scene.
“In the end it’s about delivering advanced care to people who need it the most before they even hit the door to the hospital,” McCoy said. “ We want to provide the best care so they can go home at the end of the day. That’s what we want, that’s what the paramedics want, and that’s what you would want if it were your family member or loved one in our care.”