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EMERGENCY MEDICAL CARE FOR KIDS: WHAT CAN PARENTS DO?

 WASHINGTON, July 13 /PRNewswire/ -- If your child suffered a serious medical emergency today, would appropriate medical care be available? That's a question many parents may be asking following the release this month of a national report on the status of emergency medical services for children (EMS-C). The result of a two-year study, the report issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) outlines needed improvements in training, equipment and system organization to ensure that children receive effective care following serious illness or injury.
 "A lot of parents may be confused by what they hear about this report and have doubts about what they should do in an emergency," said Dr. Robert Schafermeyer, chairman of the Pediatric Emergency Medicine Committee of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "It's extremely important that people understand that they should not hesitate to call an ambulance or seek needed emergency care if their child suffers a serious medical emergency. Questions or concerns about emergency care should be resolved before an emergency occurs."
 Many ambulance systems and community hospitals are already equipped to treat pediatric emergency patients, due in part to a federal program that provides grants for demonstration projects that can be used as models for effective EMS-C systems. However, experts caution that emergency medical care for both children and adults can vary greatly from community to community, so parents should take steps to learn about their local EMS system.
 The IOM report also stresses the importance of prevention as perhaps the single most effective means of reducing childhood death and disability rates. For example, recent studies published in the "Annals of Emergency Medicine" found that improvements in emergency care would not have significantly reduced fire fatalities or pedestrian deaths among children in New Mexico.
 The author of the "Annals" studies, Dr. David Sklar, said the children suffered "overwhelming injuries that would not have responded to any known medical treatment." However, Sklar cautioned, "Although it may seem reassuring from a medical perspective that these children are not dying because of inadequate medical care, it does not absolve us of the responsibility to look further at ways of preventing these deaths."
 The American College of Emergency Physicians recommends that parents take the following steps:
 -- Teach all family members how to call for help in an emergency.
 If your community has 9-1-1, this is the number you should call.
 In communities without 9-1-1, post the 7-digit emergency numbers
 for ambulance, police, fire and the poison control center near
 every phone.
 -- Ask your pediatrician or family doctor about emergency care in
 your community. A recent survey commissioned by ACEP and the
 Upjohn Company found that only one out of five families with
 children had taken this important step.
 -- Make prevention a priority. Immunizations and routine medical
 care can help prevent serious illness. Safety belts, child
 safety seats, and bike helmets are just a few of the ways you can
 prevent injury.
 -- Let local officials know you value EMS as a public service.
 Whether your local emergency medical services system is municipal
 or volunteer, they need your support.
 For more information, request ACEP's free brochure, "What You Should Know About Emergency Care," by sending a self-addressed, stamped business-size envelope to: Emergency Brochure, 307 W. 36th St., Eighth Floor, New York, N.Y., 10018.
 ACEP is a national medical specialty society representing more than 16,000 physicians who specialize in emergency medicine. ACEP is dedicated to improving the quality of emergency care through continuing education, research and public education.
 -0- 7/13/93
 /CONTACT: Jane Howell of the American College of Emergency Physicians, 202-728-0610/


CO: American College of Emergency Physicians ST: District of Columbia IN: HEA SU:

DC-IH -- DC021 -- 0959 07/13/93 14:32 EDT
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Date:Jul 13, 1993
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