Emergency Medical Services for Children
and the Family Advisory Network
Providing medical care for a child during an emergency is a specialized process, and the training and equipment needed to stabilize a small patient is very different from that used for an adult. That's why in 1984 the federal government, in order to improve care and bolster the pediatric emergency infrastructure throughout the United States, created the Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMS for Children). Since 1991, Children's National Medical Center has housed the EMS for Children National Resource Center. The Center's top priority is to proactively assist EMS for Children grantees, program partners and family advocates in their efforts to improve all aspects of children's emergency medical care. One area of the program that continues to create improvements nationwide is the Family Advisory Network (FAN). Started in 1999, this state-based program is made up of families who, because of their first-hand experience with the emergency system, are willing and able to help EMS for Children better serve its pediatric patients and improve the system. In short, FAN helps EMS for Children put families first with changes that will and do make a difference.
In Nebraska, for example, the FAN committee of parents, caregivers, and stakeholders meet throughout the year and take up such issues as sensitivity training for EMTs, along with other matters specific to that state. A FAN representative in Wisconsin launched what is called the Pediatric Jump Bag Initiative, which raised money to stock ambulances with expensive emergency equipment needed for children. Additionally, FAN has been instrumental in ensuring that hospitals in each state — particularly those with low pediatric volumes — complete an electronic assessment of readiness as part of a national project. Through the Family Advisory Network, EMS for Children is on the forefront of those issues that matter most to families, and in turn it is able to improve emergency care for children across the nation. In 2012, the EMS for Children National Resource Center provided technical assistance to grantees in 49 states and five U.S. territories, which included a newly developed website and electronic educational materials, as well as collaboration with 15 external and internal partners in emergency preparedness events.