Midwives train paramedics in emergency skills

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Paramedics from the Greater Toronto Area have been overwhelmingly responsive to the training they have received from midwives in dealing with out-of-hospital birth emergencies. To date, more than 150 paramedics have received the emergency obstetrical skills training from four registered midwives. The sessions have been a hit with paramedics, and are described as “the highlight of last year” in Sunnybrook’s online course catalogue. Called Improving Obstetrical Skills, the course has received official accreditation as a self-directed Continuing Medical Education course for paramedics.

The Association of Ontario Midwives developed the workshop in response to a request from the Sunnybrook-Osler Centre for Prehospital Care. The Centre felt a workshop would provide important training while strengthening collaboration between paramedics and midwives. The day-long workshop covers topics including midwifery and home birth in Ontario, normal birth, collaborative care in an emergency, shoulder dystocia, postpartum hemorrhage, cord prolapse, birth of twins and vaginal breech birth.

The classes have also proven to be a two-way street in terms of information sharing.

“The training is an opportunity for midwives and paramedics to learn more about each other’s scope of practice,” says course instructor Judy Rogers, a registered midwife and Associate Professor in the Midwifery Education Program at Ryerson University. “Paramedics and midwives are the only two professions that need obstetrical skills outside of a hospital setting, so it makes sense for midwives to provide this kind of training. The feedback has been positive and it’s been a fun day for both the midwives and the paramedics.”

Paramedics share information about their role and scope which may prove useful to midwives, and everyone has enjoyed getting to know each other better. “I know at least one of the midwives was requesting to accompany the paramedics on a shift,” says Rogers. “Hopefully we won’t be losing midwives to the blue-light brigade!”

Paramedics have given excellent feedback about the course, and good word-of-mouth among paramedics has meant the last few sessions have quickly sold out. “The day was very informative and provided good information on births and the responsibilities of paramedics and midwives when both are on the scene together,” said one participant in program evaluations.

The September session of Improving Obstetrical Skills is sold out, though a few places remain for the November session. Registration can be accessed online through the SOCPC Self Directed continuing education catalogue, http://www.socpc.ca/pdf/2011SelfDirectedCMECatalogue.pdf. At this time, only paramedics whose home hospital is Sunnybrook are eligible; however, if other hospitals are interested in hosting training, they are encouraged to contact Christine Staley, Director of Clinical and Professional Development at the Association of Ontario Midwives, cpddirector@aom.on.ca.