5000 emergency medical service providers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska to learn latest techniques via the INHS TeleHealth Video Network

Spokane 11 October 2004A $111.313 Federal Rural Emergency Medical Service Training and Equipment (REMSTEP) grant means more than 5000 emergency medical service personnel (EMS) in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska's Aleutian Islands will have access to training in topics such as initial trauma assessment, head and spinal trauma, trauma assessment of children and other critical care issues. Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS) was awarded the grant to expand live interactive EMS training programmes through its Northwest TeleHealth network.

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The INHS TeleHealth network operates a video conferencing network that consists of 55 hospitals and clinics. Northwest TeleHealth will connect to other video conferencing systems in Alaska and Oregon to reach the entire region.

"Rather than facing the expense of flying EMS crews to larger cities for advanced training, rural fire fighters and paramedics will now be able to drive to a local school or hospital to take advantage of the latest emergency response, injury prevention and safety awareness information", stated INHS Chief Operating Officer Nancy Vorhees.

Because 85 percent of EMS providers are volunteers, they must shoulder all travel and lost work costs to receive additional training outside their communities. "As one of only three agencies awarded grants from a pool of seventy applicants, the REMSTEP funding is another sign that Northwest Telehealth is providing the right service at the right time", added Nancy Voorhees.

Nearly 25 percent of the population in the United States, or 55 million people, reside in areas classified as rural or frontier. A frontier area is defined as a place with a population density of fewer than six people per square mile. "Northwest TeleHealth has helped pioneer the use of advanced video technology to bring previously unavailable critical care training to rescue crews in remote communities", Nancy Vorhees stated.

Seventy five percent of funding for the programme comes from Federal dollars, while twenty-five percent will be provided by participating agencies. In addition to interactive meetings, Telehealth also affords rural communities with access to medical specialists and education on subjects such as diabetes management and other chronic illnesses. Nurses, physicians and other providers in remote communities are also able to take part in refresher courses hosted by universities and community colleges while they remain in their host communities.

INHS is a non-profit corporation sponsored by Deaconess Medical Center, Holy Family Hospital, Sacred Heart Medical Center and Valley Hospital and Medical Center in Spokane, Washington, to provide collaborative health care services for Spokane and the surrounding region. INHS companies include St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute, Community Health Education and Resources (CHER), Children's Miracle Network, Northwest Telehealth, Information Resource Management and Northwest MedStar.


Leslie Versweyveld

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