Illinois Uses ASPR Hospital Preparedness Program Funding to Improve Pediatric Emergency Response Education by Digitalizing a School Nurse Training Course
Within just three months of the launch of a newly redesigned online course on pediatric emergency response, nearly 25 percent of the 1,500 school nurses across Illinois signed up to participate. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the course was made available online thanks to a partnership between the Ann and Robert H Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago (Lurie Children’s), Illinois Department of Public Health, the Illinois’ EMS for Children (EMSC) program, and the Hospital Preparedness Program.
Since the 1990’s, Illinois has been offering this popular training, which includes modules on assessment and triage procedures, behavioral and mental health emergencies, management of the student prior to the arrival of emergency medical services (EMS), chronic conditions, and care for students with technology-dependent needs (e.g., use of wheelchairs or ventilators). When the COVID-19 pandemic prevented school nurses from taking the course in person, the course was transitioned to an online program to ensure continued access to the material, increase the number of attendees, and enhance equity.
The course is also available to nurses from five other states, with participants joining from Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia. The updated course ensures that those on the frontline of a pediatric emergency are best equipped to handle the situation. Through the use of HPP annual funding, the Illinois Department of Public Health was able to strengthen emergency preparedness and response by providing an accessible and comprehensive training course.
Beginning in the 1990s, Illinois was one of several states to offer an in-person emergency care course to school nurses practicing in the state. While some modules of the course, originally designed by the University of Connecticut, review general anatomy and related health emergencies, others focus on specific topics such as assessment and triage procedures, behavioral and mental health emergencies, management of the student prior to the arrival of emergency medical services (EMS), chronic conditions, and care for students with technology-dependent needs (e.g., use of wheelchairs or ventilators).
Before the pandemic, Illinois offered the course as an in-person training during the summer months to the state’s population of over 1,500 school nurses. When the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the course from taking place in person, the Ann and Robert H Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago (Lurie Children’s), in partnership with the Illinois Department of Public Health and Illinois’ EMS for Children (EMSC) program, used ASPR Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) cooperative agreement funding to update the modules and convert them to a digital format as a virtual training.
The team at Lurie Children’s used funding provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Hospital Preparedness Program to form a committee of subject matter experts, which included school and emergency nurses who served as instructors and course coordinators for the in-person course. This assured that they were familiar with the course content and could identify needed revisions to material. This committee reviewed the current training to identify areas that required updating to reflect the latest clinical standards.
After the course material was updated, Lurie Children’s used HPP funding to contract a vendor to create virtual lectures with updated graphics and audio components. The new online course includes access to a 600+ page resource document to supplement the modules. Each module is about an hour in length, allowing participants to complete the course at their own rate and on demand.