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Virtual Learning Resource for Paramedics Gains International Recognition

The Narcaid Virtual Presentation Clinic is an online resource designed to help ambulance crews improve their understanding of drug-related incidents. The clinic contains drug awareness bulletins, real life case studies, emergency alert bulletins, an interactive tutorial facility and reflections by drug using patients. All information is designed for the emergency care environment and reflects the substances crews commonly deal with. The VPC has been developed by the Narcaid ECODA Unit, a UK based facility dedicated to providing research-based training and support to ambulance crews in their management of drug related patients. It provides distance courses which are accredited by the British Paramedic Association and are Royal College of Nursing Approved Professional Courses.

North East Ambulance Service in the UK has been the first to take up the new service en masse, with a purchase of 500 user licences for its front line staff. This will be the first time such a resource has been made available to an ambulance service anywhere in the world, and the results will be carefully monitored to ascertain its effectiveness in both supporting staff and delivering enhanced care to patients. London Ambulance Service are currently undertaking their own assessment of the VPC’s clinical effectiveness with a view to making this available to their ambulance staff. A similar project is underway in New South Wales, Australia. The project has already excited interest from overseas, with interest expressed by New South Wales Emergency Medical Service and US l services approaching Narcaid for assistance in providing American crews with similar training.

The virtual clinic is not just about enhancing care for patients, but giving crews confidence and support. It is hoped that the resource will play a part in enhancing crew safety by the addition of materials designed to teach staff about the relationship between drugs and aggressive behaviour. The emergency alert bulletins will play their part in alerting crews to potentially dangerous new using trends, and the interactive tutorial facility will provide a forum for them to share their experiences with others. Narcaid is using American expertise to consult on materials specifically designed with crew safety in mind.

One such example might be the recent emergency alert bulletin on Vicodin overdose. This powerful pharmaceutical accounts for a huge number of overdoses in the US and is now being seen in the UK, courtesy of Internet purchase. The opioid component hydrocodone bitartrate gives the drug a similar presentation to heroin overdose and carries the reputation of being extremely euphoric when taken in quantity. The bulletin explains how to recognise the drug and its acute medical dangers. It is just one example of the benefits to all crews of pooling expertise from different areas and countries to achieve a common goal.

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