Tag Archives: Richard Schwartz

National Disaster Life Support Foundation signs agreement to make courses available in China

The National Disaster Life Support Foundation, based at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University, has signed an agreement with the Jiao Tong University School of Medicine in Shanghai and Xingcheng Medical Consulting & Services Company to teach standardized courses on disaster support throughout China.

The courses are part of a program designed to help a wide array of providers – from police to paramedics to hospital administrators and firefighters – best work together in the aftermath of natural and man-made disasters. It was developed as an outgrowth of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing, when it became apparent that responding agencies are often trained differently.

The program includes a Core Disaster Life Support Course® that gives hospital-based and frontline medical providers the essentials of natural and man-made disaster management. Basic and advanced courses offer progressively more hands-on training and knowledge. The overarching goal is to give all types of responders a common knowledge base and jargon and to eliminate ambiguity, said Dr. Richard Schwartz, chairman of the MCG Department of Emergency Medicine and Hospitalists Services, who had the original idea for the program.

The courses, first introduced in 1999, were developed by the Medical College of Georgia, University of Georgia, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and the University of Texas at Houston’s School of Public Health. The nonprofit National Disaster Life Support Foundation was established in 2004 to oversee the program, and they began a partnership with the American Medical Association to widely disseminate the program in 2006.

Today, there are about 90 domestic training sites, and courses have been taught in 49 states and in more than 20 foreign countries. There are training sites in 11 countries, including places like Mexico, Japan, India and Saudi Arabia, and now China, the world’s most populous country.

“The courses are unique and valuable because they are standardized across all disciplines of first responders; they deal with all types of hazards, and they are competency based,” said Jack Horner, executive director of the NDLSF. “To date, more than 120,000 students have been trained, and a growing number of health professional schools have added the program to their curriculum. Disasters know no borders and they know no language barrier either.”

8 ways to beat the heat

AUGUSTA, Ga. – There were 123 heat-related deaths across the nation in 2014, according to the National Weather Service.

“People suffer heat-related illnesses when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves,” said Dr. Richard Schwartz, chair of emergency medicine at Georgia Regents University’s Medical College of Georgia.

“No matter if you’re in the garden, on the playing field, at the beach or at the construction site, summer activity should be balanced with measures that aid the body’s cooling mechanisms and prevent heat-related illness.”

With the mercury already topping 100 degrees this week, Dr. Schwartz recommends these eight tips to beat the heat:

1. Schedule outdoor activities strategically. If you must be outdoors, try to limit activity to early morning or early evening hours. Take breaks regularly in shady areas or indoors so that your body’s thermostat will have a chance to recover.

2. Pace yourself. If you don’t frequently exercise or work in a hot climate, begin slowly, and gradually increase the pace. Avoid overexertion. If activities in the heat make your heart pound and leave you gasping for breath, stop, move to a cool or shaded area, and rest – especially if you become lightheaded, confused, weak, or faint.

3. Avoid direct sunlight. If you can, stay out of the sun. But always use sunscreen to reduce the heat absorbed and the moisture lost from the body. Additionally, wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and a wide-brimmed hat that covers as much as the head as possible. If you work in the sun, be sure to take frequent breaks and don’t push yourself to hard.

4. Drink plenty of fluids. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. During heavy exercise in a hot environment, drink two to four glasses of cool fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the needed salt and minerals you lose in sweat. It’s important to keep drinking water.

5. Swimming is not “hydrating.” Don’t make the mistake of thinking swimming will hydrate you. When you swim, you are exercising and, therefore, losing water and other nutrients. If heading to the pool, you’d be wise to take along plenty of bottled water.

6. Avoid certain hot foods. Do not eat a heavy or hot meal before going outside in hot weather. This will heat your body faster, making you more vulnerable. Avoid liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar – these cause you to lose more body fluid. Also avoid extremely cold drinks, which can cause stomach cramps.

7. Use a buddy system: During outside activities in hot weather, keep an eye on the conditions of your family, children, friends or co-workers, and have someone look out for you, too. If you are 65 or older, have a friend or relative call to check on you twice a day during a heat wave. Likewise, if you know someone in this age group, check on them frequently.

8. Stay inside: If you don’t have to go outside, stay indoors in an air-conditioned environment. If your home has no air conditioning, find a public place that does. A few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you return to the heat. Taking cool showers or baths is also a good way to keep your body temperature cool if you don’t have air conditioning. Also, avoid using your stove and oven as they can significantly raise the temperature in your home.

Heat exhaustion occurs when a person is overexposed to heat, resulting in loss of body water and salt. Symptoms include weakness, heavy sweating, nausea, giddiness, dizziness, collapse, fatigue and cool, clammy, red or flushed skin.

Those suffering from heat exhaustion should immediately go inside. Rest, cool drinks and cool baths are recommended.

Heat stroke, the most severe heat-related illness, occurs when the body is unable to regulate its temperature. Temperatures may rise to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher within 10 to 15 minutes.

If you suspect someone has had a heat stroke, call 911 immediately.

Federal agency recommends change to triage guideline

A new guideline for triaging mass casualty victims has been recommended by a federal emergency medical services agency for use by all state and local EMS groups.

The Federal Interagency Committee on Emergency Medical Services has recommended that state and local EMS agencies improve their mass casualty triage capabilities by adopting the new guideline and released an implementation plan for meeting that recommendation nationally.

The guideline, dubbed the Model Uniform Core Criteria, or MUCC, identifies the key features that should be included in a mass casualty triage system and is designed to standardize the process and improve interoperability between agencies when they respond to an emergency with multiple casualties. One of the guideline’s key recommendations is to quickly identify those with life-threatening injuries and provide immediate lifesaving interventions, such as placing a tourniquet to stop a victim from bleeding to death.

“Having a national standard for mass casualty triage means that all responders in these chaotic and rapidly changing situations will be operating from the same sheet of music. This will help to ensure that as many lives as possible are saved,” said Dr. E. Brooke Lerner, Professor of Emergency Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Deputy Director of MCW’s Injury Research Center.

“Based on the lessons learned from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, the MUCC ensures that critical patients with potential for survival get immediate help by incorporating quick lifesaving interventions, such as a tourniquet or opening their airway. The lifesaving interventions are integrated directly into the triage protocol,” said Dr. Richard Schwartz, Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine and Hospitalist Services at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.

Schwartz was Principal Investigator on the grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that enabled broad-scale assessment of existing military and civilian triage protocols. Lerner led the 30-member multidisciplinary working group representing federal and academic institutions that developed the MUCC guideline.

“Most triage protocols used in the United States today do not include lifesaving interventions,” Schwartz said. “This guideline will ensure that all responders to a mass casualty incident are providing lifesaving interventions that only take seconds to do then quickly moving to the next victim.”

The Federal Interagency Committee on Emergency Medical Services represents the Department of Transportation, Department of Defense, Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Communication Commission. The committee has indicated federal dollars may be available to help implement the protocols across the nation.

EMS-trained physician joins first-response team for area’s worst accidents, disasters

BurgbacherwebThe region’s first fellowship-trained emergency medical services physician is now part of the first-response team managing the worst accidents and disasters in the Augusta area.

Dr. Todd Burgbacher, who completed his emergency medicine residency at the Medical College of Georgia and Georgia Regents Health System last year, has returned to MCG and Georgia Regents University after completing a one-year Emergency Medical Services fellowship at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

EMS is a new medical subspecialty in the United States that focuses on pre-hospital care and the infrastructure supporting it.

Starting this week, Burgbacher joins Gold Cross EMS and the Augusta Fire Department at scenes such as vehicle extrications, field amputations, and mass casualties as well as more typical 911 calls in Richmond, Columbia and Jefferson counties in a fully-equipped GRU/GR Health emergency response vehicle.

“Dr. Burgbacher will be out on the front line for worst-case scenarios, able to work directly with EMTs and paramedics, to supervise and educate real time; and to improve care in the field,” said Dr. Richard Schwartz, Chairman of the MCG Department of Emergency Medicine and Hospitalist Services.

“This is a great thing for our community and the next step in providing exceptional emergency and trauma care and training to our region. It’s expanding our emergency care from the emergency department to the pre-hospital setting and expanding our EMS education as well,” Schwartz said.

MCG and GR Health System plan to establish an EMS fellowship to train more physicians like Burgbacher starting in July 2014.
Dr. John McManus, who directed the U.S. Army EMS for three years, created the first emergency medicine fellowship in the Armed Services, and closed the last Army field hospital in Iraq, joined the MCG faculty Nov. 1 to help build and direct the fellowship. The Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education approved EMS fellowships, such as the one Burgbacher recently completed, in September 2012.

As part of a related educational expansion, the MCG Department of Emergency Medicine also is developing a year-long paramedic course. Faculty and staff already teach a three-month EMT course, which is regularly taken by members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s elite hostage rescue teams

Burgbacher, who also will serve as Assistant Medical Director of Gold Cross, will work closely with Gold Cross Medical Director Dr. Jimmy L. Peebles, to expand and refine protocols for area EMTs and paramedics. Burgbacher also is Medical Director for the air ambulance service, AirMed Augusta.

“Our EMS professionals already provide exceptional care to area citizens, but this brings us a step closer to delivering hospital-level care in the field,” Burgbacher said. As an example, physicians can administer a muscle relaxer to reestablish an airway in a patient with a significant head injury and resulting clenched jaw. Georgia’s scope of practice laws for paramedics prohibits ground crews from taking these extreme lifesaving measures, Burgbacher said.

“They can intubate, but they can’t give drugs to sedate people and they can’t give drugs to paralyze people if the patient is combative or has a clenched airway,” he said.

The newly-trained EMS and emergency medicine physician has previously worked as an instructor in the Critical Care Emergency Medical Transport Programs in Augusta and Texas, and has served as Assistant Medical Director of the Augusta and San Antonio Fire Departments. He also worked as an EMT for about five years.

“This is where my passion is,” he said of the new job that has him again working as part of an emergency response team. Burgbacher, a native of Naples, Fla., thought he wanted to be an engineer but could not let go of an early fascination with emergency responders. He started volunteering, and became an EMT before starting medical school in 2005.

Earlier this year, MCG’s Center of Operational Medicine and Minnesota-based Vighter Medical Group signed a five-year contract to provide supplemental medical support to the FBI. It was the second renewal for MCG. The MCG Center work also works with local and state police, as well as other federal agencies to provide medical training and support to their forces and the medics assigned to them.

The center also has helped develop a series of courses used around the world that help a wide array of providers – from police to paramedics to hospital administrators and firefighters – work optimally together in the aftermath of natural and manmade disasters.

Locally, the MCG Department of Emergency Medicine also provides physicians for the emergency departments at Trinity Hospital of Augusta and the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Dr. Phillip Coule, Vice Chairman of Business Affairs for the Department of Emergency Medicine, has served as Medical Director of the Augusta Fire Department for a half dozen years.

GRU to host panel on gun violence, legislation

The Georgia Regents University Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and the Department of Sociology, Criminal Justice and Social Work will present Gun Violence and Gun Legislation:  A Public Panel Forum from 7 to 9 p.m.  Monday, Feb. 11 at Maxwell Theatre. The program is free and open to the public.

Each panelist will speak briefly about their experience with gun violence or gun legislation, and then the group will take questions from the audience. The panel will include:

  • Dr. Richard Schwartz, Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University
  • Robert Partain, Colonel of Operations at Richmond County Sheriff’s Office
  • Ashley Wright, District Attorney of the Augusta Judicial Circuit
  • Honorable Danny Craig, Superior Court Judge of the Seventh Division of the Augusta Judicial Circuit
  • Honorable Edward Tarver, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia
  • Gordon Rondeau, Founder and CEO of the Renee Olubunmi Rondeau Peace Foundation
  • Dr. Kim Davies, Chair and Professor in the GRU Department of Sociology, Criminal Justice and Social Work and author of The Murder Book
  • Jack Batson, Civil Rights Attorney
  • Dr. Bill Reese, Moderator and Professor in the GRU Department of Sociology, Criminal Justice and Social Work

“We’re doing this as a public service to allay the local public’s fears or anxieties,” Reese said. “We think there’s plenty of people concerned about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and equally concerned on the other side of the issue are plenty of people that are worried about the government taking away their guns.”