CVTC offers International Trauma Life Support class

October 7, 2013

From “International training” — Luke Edrich was about 4,000 miles from home, but felt right at home at Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire last month.

Edrich, a paramedic practitioner from Crawley, Sussex in Great Britain, enrolled in an International Trauma Life Support (ITLS) class at CVTC, reviewing and learning alongside American professional and student paramedics and EMTs.

Because of the ITLS affiliation of the class, the training Edrich received will be accepted by his National Health System employer when he returns.

“It’s very similar,” Edrich said, comparing the training at CVTC to classes he’s had in his home country. “The teachers are excellent. I’ve never had a college-based trauma course back home.”

The training is similar because it’s standardized through the ITLS, a nonprofit organization dedicated to trauma training and education. EMTs and paramedics in 43 countries can demonstrate their competence to their employers through ITLS certification, which verifies training the professionals previously received.

CVTC is the Wisconsin chapter and training center for ITLS, hosting ITLS classes at its Emergency Education Center and providing the training at other locations around the state through its ITLS chapter.

CVTC offers a four-week class in trauma, and such classes are available at many other institutions as well. However, the quality and standards can vary greatly, said Jeff Asher, a CVTC paramedic instructor.

“Employers want some kind of a capstone course where they know what content the student had,” Asher said. “The ITLS class provides that.”

The ITLS chapter at CVTC was established five years ago. Prior to that, emergency response professionals in Wisconsin had to take an ITLS class through a chapter at Riverland Community College in Albert Lea, Minn., or at one sponsored by the Illinois College of Emergency Physicians.

“Between 2008 and now, we’ve trained about 120 a year, both CVTC students and outsiders. Statewide, we’ve trained about 650 people,” Asher said. “Every year, the numbers have been increasing.”

Not all of the people completing the course come to Eau Claire. Classes through the CVTC chapter occur at other ITLS training centers in the Fox River Valley and Madison areas. Part of the course fee for classes in those areas comes back to CVTC.

CVTC attracts participants from out of state, such as a woman from Grand Rapids, Mich., who recently took the class. Edrich was the first international student to complete the course in Eau Claire.

In 2009 Asher travelled to England, where he toured emergency medical services facilities during his visit, during which he met Edrich. Asher returned to England the following year, when he had the opportunity to ride along with Edrich on calls. As a paramedic practitioner, Edrich has a higher level of training than most of his colleagues, comparable to his having a master’s degree in the United States.

Edrich returned Asher’s visit this month, mixing professional development – which included a ride-along with the Hennepin County, Minn., service – with his time as a tourist.

“I was curious how the higher education system works and the training in health care,” Edrich said about his visit.

Edrich found the American system different in many ways from that of his homeland. For instance, in this country ambulance services are more varied and may be provided by local government or private business while in England the national government oversees those services.

However, the work paramedics do, and the standards they must meet, are universal, he said. “There are more basic skills here than we have for paramedics back home,” Edrich said.



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