As temperatures increase, the Louisiana Department of Health (DHH) urges families to adopt heat safety measures while enjoying the summer sun - especially for children. Through the Louisiana Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) program, LDH is able to provide health professionals and community members with information and supplies to help prevent and prepare for pediatric medical emergencies, such as heat illness. The department urges parents to protect children enjoying outdoor activities during hotter months. National EMS Week is recognized May 17 -23, 2015.

"I enjoy making summertime memories with my children and grandchildren very much and it's important that we're all educated on the importance of heat safety," LDH Secretary Kathy H. Kliebert said. "DHH is committed to improving emergency healthcare provided to children in our communities."

Heat illness is a threat to the health and safety of students who play sports and families that participate in any outdoor activities during hotter months. Through their new, Exertional Heat Illness Project, the EMS program provides packets containing information to prevent and treat heat exposure to all middle and high schools, hospitals and EMS agencies.

Another dangerous situation that can occur during the summer months is when a child is locked in a hot car. An average of 38 children die each year in hot cars in the U.S. Tips for preventing this from occurring include taking your child with you each time you leave the vehicle no matter how long you will be out of the car, reminding yourself if you have a child in the back seat, locking your car when it is parked to prevent children from entering the cab or trunk and making sure to report any incidents of a child locked inside a vehicle as soon as you see it.

All children respond differently to illness and injury, and they each have a unique set of physical, emotional and physiological needs. Children also require specific equipment, supplies, and medications that may not always be available in emergency systems designed for adults. The communities best prepared to handle childhood emergencies are those with properly trained emergency personnel, sufficiently equipped ambulances and emergency departments and well-defined pediatric treatment protocols and procedures.

The Louisiana EMSC program also distributes the Broselow Tape, a critical piece of equipment that assists in the emergency care of children in pre-hospital or emergency department settings, to every ambulance and hospital throughout the state. The Broselow Tape is a color coded system that helps clinicians decide which doses of medications to administer and what size medical equipment is needed for each child. These recommendations are based on the infant or child's estimated height and weight. The color coded system is present on the actual tape along with all of the charts and other medical materials that come in the complete system.

"The program has been successful at contributing useful materials to EMS providers trained to transport and transfer children to the most appropriate medical facility. These providers are equipped and prepared to treat and stabilize pediatric patients during medical emergencies and traumatic events," LDH Assistant Secretary for Public Health J.T. Lane said. "EMS for Children Day helps brings awareness for the need to improve and expand specialized care for children in pre-hospital and acute care settings."

EMSC is an initiative designed to reduce child and youth disability and death due to severe illness or injury. EMSC aims to ensure that emergency medical care is available for all ill or injured children and adolescents, and that pediatric services, including primary prevention of illness and injury, acute care and rehabilitation are provided to children and adolescents.

Disasters can affect anyone, anywhere and at any time. The Louisiana EMSC program works to reduce child and youth mortality and morbidity caused by severe illness or trauma. EMSC aims to ensure that:

• State-of-the-art emergency medical care is available for ill and injured children and adolescents;

• pediatric services are well-integrated into an emergency medical service system backed by optimal resources; and

• the entire spectrum of emergency services, including primary prevention of illness and injury, acute care and rehabilitation, is provided to children and adolescents as well as adults, no matter where they live, attend school or travel.

For more information on the Louisiana EMS for Children program, please contact Rose Johnson at 844-452-2367, ext. 4.

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's Twitter account and Facebook.

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