EMS Continuing Education in the Age of the COVID Pandemic

Journal of Emergency Medical Services (08/12/20) Lehrfeld, David; Long, Rebecca; Rausch-Scott, Stella

Investigators evaluated virtual conferences hosted by Oregon Health Authority Emergency Medical Services and Trauma Systems (EMS/TS) using a webinar-based platform to provide continuing education (CE) amid the COVID pandemic. State and National Registry Emergency Medical Technician license holders across the United States claimed CE hours through this conference as "live, non-distributive education" because it was taught live, enabling students and instructors to interact. Virtual sessions enabled EMS/TS staff to showcase regional CE retreats and encourage attendees to support the offerings for 2021. In addition, the researchers note, "speakers were able to present live, timely and relevant CE and were recognized for their willingness to support Oregon's EMS providers." They add that "having EMS/TS staff host the virtual conference on webinar-based platforms meant work that could be accomplished from home offices during the pandemic." In all, more than 1,100 people attended the 10 lectures, for a total of 5,741 hours of CE that was provided at no cost to attendees. The conference was so successful that a second virtual conference was held two weeks later. That meeting included 11 lectures and more than 9,100 hours of CE, again provided free of charge to participants. Key strengths of the virtual conferences included that they enabled participants to attend for free while respecting physical distancing and allowing people to still cover their districts, with recordings available for any presentations that were missed. Also, the GoToWebinar platform's automatic issuance of CE certificates saved staff a great deal of time. A follow up quiz or survey for knowledge verification is being considered for the future. With the pandemic likely to persist, the authors suggest that "future challenges will include development of more interactive and hands-on content, to enrich remote learning and engage kinesthetic learners."

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