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Mental Health & Wellness Sessions

Connecting to resilience factors in the pediatric critical care transport environment

   Elaine Beardsley, MN ACCNS-P - Children's Health Dallas
   Michelle M. Creech, RN, MA, BSN, NPD-BC - Children's Health
   Jessalyn Colbert, BSN, RN, NREMT, CNPT - Children’s Health System of Texas

This interactive session will describe an evidence-based education intervention that was implemented to all Transport and Communication Specialist professionals between 2021-2022 at Children's Health in Dallas. This presentation will give an overview of the guiding principles utilized and how they combined the transport safety pillars with the resilience and burnout literature using a resilience, ethics and trauma-informed approach. The education focused on ways to enhance individual resilience factors while also promoting engagement for process improvement initiatives. The qualitative and quantitative outcomes will be shared that helped validate experiences while promoting areas for improved staff wellness and patient care focus. Participants who are interested in implementing a similar education or learning about resilience factors are encouraged to attend.

How Peer Support Can Save Your Career

   David Wuertz, MS, RN, CFRN, LP - PHI Airmedical
   Dylan Newsom, LP, FP-C, Peer Support Team Member - PHI Airmedical

Mental health is an important issue in EMS. Research shows that first responders are at as much as 10 times greater risk of suicide than the general public. This session will explore the brain chemistry of stress, how stress effects memories and how, if unaddressed properly, that it can lead to PTSD. The design and implementation of a peer support program is described and a case study of the use of the team in a real world aviation incident is reviewed.

Reimagining Compassion Fatigue - Reward Neural Pathways Versus Pain Neural Pathways

   Thomas Walker, MSW, RSW - Ornge Air Transport

For years, the industry has been teaching paramedics/helpers that they need to be empathic when working with patients and their families. It is often suggested to walk in their shoes. For years, Thomas has told anyone who would listen to attempt to cognitively know about people's shoes, be kind to their shoes and treat them well but stay out of the patients’ and their families shoes. There is now proof that empathy is a pain neuro-pathway in a blended state (i.e. we are feeling with; we also know that compassion is a reward-neural pathway). This workshop invites attendees to be intentional about self-care; it will discuss how resonating with patients and their families' pain during a crisis can make one susceptible to compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder.

The Pre Covid Pandemic: Mental Health and Wellness within the Air Medical Industry

   James C. Boomhower, BS, FP-C, C-NPT, NRP, CCISM - Boston MedFlight

The Pre Covid Pandemic will highlight the necessity of mental health and wellness training and implementation throughout HEMS and CCT. The industry has known about the mental and emotional tax of our profession for years. In 2018, the CDC found that a first responder died by suicide every four days in the USA, however, it took a global pandemic for the industry to start to highlight the importance of mental health and wellness. Which begs the questions, how do we keep this movement going forward? How do we ensure that what is currently "in vogue" becomes a clinical mainstay? In the Pre Covid Pandemic, James will discuss foundational aspects of mindfulness and psychological first aid (PFA) that can become part of a daily routine, no different than routine vehicle checks. James will also highlight, how any agency with any budget, can build and foster robust mental health and resiliency platforms for their employees, themselves, and their families ensuring that the trend of mental health and wellness talks become actionable pieces of every HEMS/CCT agency.