Hyperacute stroke unit training for paramedics

BackgroundThe best outcomes for acute stroke treatment occur through rapid recognition and transfer of patients to hospitals with a hyperacute stroke unit (HASU). Pre-hospital ambulance paramedics are crucial to this process as first responders, but they have limited feedback on subsequent patient care and progress to improve their learning.MethodsA dedicated stroke training course for paramedics was developed on a HASU that involved a standardised introductory educational briefing and subsequent participation in clinical activities with multidisciplinary HASU staff. On completion of the course, attendees completed a standardised semi-structured questionnaire about their learning and experience. All text was thematically analysed and themes were developed by iteratively recoding and regrouping the data.Results30 paramedics attended the training course over a three-month period. All candidates reported that the course was useful to their learning and training with ‘real-world’ transferability; 93% stated that they benefited from observing clinicians performing assessments on patients and 73% commented that they gained a better understanding of care pathways and treatment. These two themes encompassed 48% of 160 free-text responses with the other responses being grouped into four further themes (improved patient/family communication, increased awareness of subtle signs of stroke, localisation of intracranial pathology, and improved ‘handover’).DiscussionThis single centre experience of HASU training for paramedics demonstrated a number of key educational themes embedded within the stroke care pathway. This process may be a useful additional educational resource to develop further paramedic training in the hyperacute arena.

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