Saturday, March 31, 2007

Alphabetical Head Ache

I just dropped a couple of aspirin, 'cause I got a bad headache. It's the same headache I get every couple of years.

The State of Alaska, like all states, requires that field medics be regularly recertified. It's a legitimate requirement that helps ensure that EMTs and paramedics maintain a reasonable degree of competency. In addition to my state certification, I also maintain my registered status as a paramedic with the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. This requires that I maintain my certification in courses that contain a big chunk of the alphabet. For example, there is AHA (American Heart Association) "BLS", for basic life support, a fancy term for "CPR" (cardio-pulmonary resucitation. There is also ACLS, which used to be advanced cardiac life support, but nowadays is advanced cardio-vascular life support.

When other organizations realized that the American Heart Association had a steady source of good income requiring health care professionals to recertify on a regular basis, they jumped up on the band wagon. For example, ACEP (American College of Emergency Physicians) developed their ATLS (Advanced Trauma Life Support) course for physicians, and then a very similar and equally expensive PHTLS (Prehospital Trauma Life Support) course for EMTs and paramedics.

Some outfit in Alabama
decided to get on the alphabetical band-wagon by creating their own trauma course for field medics, which they called BTLS. Recognizing that there was more money to be made, they created BTLS in two versions. There is BTLSB (Basic Trauma Life Support - Basic for EMT-Bs (Emergency Medical Technician- Basic) and BTLS-A (Basic Trauma Life Support - Advanced) for paramedics. Since there is even more money to be made by 'going global', they've recently they've changed their little bit of the alphabet to ITLS, for "International Trauma Life Support.

Just in case nurses, EMTs, or paramedics might have some loose change in their pocket, AHA invented PALS (pediatric advanced life support). Of course one group of doctors hates to see another group of doctors make money when they aren't, so the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) responded by creating their own PEPP Pediatric Education for Prehospital Providers course.

It just goes on and on and one.

Anyway, this weekend instead of enjoying the Centennial Run or the Valley Funale with my dog team, I am being inundated with the alphabet, including BL$, ACL$, BTL$, PEPP, EMT and NREMT. Every single one of those little chunks of the alphabet either gets money out of my pocket, or out of my employer's. $omethings this $tuff ju$t doe$n't make much cents to me.


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