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ER Doctor Takes Hospital Training To The Streets

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – In an effort to improve emergency care, doctors in the emergency room at Regions Hospital in St. Paul are going out into the field with medics.

Dr. Aaron Burnett is a trained physician who does most of his work in the hospital. But he also spends about 40 hours a month working with EMS technicians in the field.

WCCO-TV rode along with Burnett one night when he was the first on the scene to an 81-year-old woman who was having difficulty breathing.

After Burnett, the St. Paul Fire Department crews arrive very quickly with all the gear needed to deal with this medical emergency.

Burnett follows the patient to the hospital after the medics have stabilized and transported her.

“This is a difficult case that we don’t see very often. They responded very appropriately and I think the patient is doing better because of it,” he said.

As a medical director at Regions Hospital, Burnett helps coordinate care and procedures with emergency medical technicians. It’s a critical part of modern medicine.

“It’s much different taking care of a patient in the streets than in the hospital,” Burnett said. “Taking care of someone having a heart attack on the 13th floor of apartment building, or the shoulder of 94, is very different doing it in the emergency department.”

Burnett said having physicians there to teach the medics how to address complications and challenges that come up in the field is vital for good outcomes for patients.

And the experience can work both ways.

“I learn just as much from the medics as I teach them,” Burnett said.

At the center of all the action is the Medical Resource Control Center inside Regions Hospital.

“This is really the flight control center for ambulances inbound to emergency departments throughout the east metro. Our operators are trained paramedics with several years of street experience,” Burnett said.

He said the goal is to pick the calls that have the most teachable moments — so it’s not always about the sickest patient.

In another case, a woman had fallen and needed hospital care.

“There are certain things we can affect and fix in the ambulance and those are usually the most life threatening things,” said Burnett. “For a very large number of things, the best thing we can do, is get that patient to the hospital as quick as possible so that we get that ambulance back in service, so it’s ready to take care of the next life-threatening patient.”

The collaboration between doctors and medics has lead to some really great research projects.

In fact, patients in St. Paul are getting cutting edge treatment for heart attacks and strokes before they get to the emergency room because of it.

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