Prehospital Medicine

Med FlightIn 2018, our extensive Med Flight and EMS efforts combined to form the first division within the Department of Emergency Medicine, offering greater ability to expand our resources and foster more dynamic partnerships with UW Health Prehospital Care and Medical Transport, as well as with local and regional providers.

Since its inception, the field of Emergency Medicine has always worked closely with 911 dispatchers, first responders, and field EMS personnel to provide care for the critically ill and injured. Acting as extenders of the Emergency Physician and ambassadors to the health care system, out-of-hospital providers naturally look to Emergency Medicine as the link to a healthcare landscape that is continuously changing and growing based on current medical literature and best practices. At the University of Wisconsin, we have embraced this role and sought out new and exciting ways to bring cutting edge medicine to the sickest of the sick – long before they have ever made it to the “Front Door of the Hospital.”

Our physicians have pursued opportunities outside of the usual comfort zone to work side-by-side with paramedics, firefighters, law enforcement and first responders to optimize the care of patients in the most difficult circumstances.  We intervene and initiate treatment without the benefit of chart reviews, lab tests, x-rays or sub-specialty consults. We quickly establish a therapeutic alliance with patients and families who are in their greatest time of crisis, serving as medical interpreter, spiritual care and case manager where these resources are not available. We feel the weight and the privilege of intervening in the field when quick decisions and life-saving measures have the best chance of success.

In these pages, you will learn about the rich, diverse and challenging Prehospital Medicine curriculum. Beginning in your PGY2 year, you will have the unique opportunity to volunteer for Helicopter EMS with UW Med Flight. As a PGY3, you will spend 4 weeks learning about all aspects of Prehospital Medicine through observation shifts with dispatch, 12-hour ride-alongs on EMS ambulances and presentation of CME material to Dane County providers. And throughout your training, you will have opportunities to render care to ill and injured spectators and participants during Event Medicine activities.

But much like the evolving role of Emergency Medicine, physician involvement in Prehospital Medicine has gone far beyond simply caring for patients in austere and challenging environments. We have multiple opportunities to get involved with EMS Advocacy on the state and local level, to improve disaster response, inter-agency coordination and standards of care. There are monthly opportunities to present didactic EMS Education for all levels of Dane County emergency responders. We also involve residents to help build and refine data systems for EMS QA/QI, to improve the health of the system as well as the quality of patient care.

During your time as an Emergency Medicine Resident, you will be building strong relationships with paramedics, firefighters, law enforcement officers and other EMS Physicians on a daily basis. The goal is the same as everything else that we do in Emergency Medicine; to achieve the best outcome for the individual patient possible. We will provide you the tools necessary for success in this endeavor through frequent didactics with EMS Board Certified Physicians, Simulation and our Resident favorite Doc Ops Day, an exciting and life-changing immersion into the world of emergency responders.  

Prehospital Medicine is intellectually challenging and physically demanding work.  It is also among the most fulfilling and rewarding ways to practice medicine.