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A New Plan Aims To Train Thousands of First Responders in Rural Areas


Trauma victims in rural areas are more at risk than those in cities where medical help is closer at hand. An ambitious plan from Dr. Dinesh Vyas with San Joaquin General Hospital aims to change that by training tens of thousands of first responders in California to save lives.

“It’s not limited to CPR, it’s not limited to just bleeding control, it’s like a full-body management,” Vyas said. “How you keep communication system on and how you build a team.”

Wildfires, such as the Camp Fire in Paradise, mudslides and floods make such training necessary for those first on scene, he said. Besides police and fire, first responders would also include Caltrans workers and National Guardsmen.

“Police, Caltrans people, volunteer firemen, and the national guard, they are the people who will be the first responders,” he said. “So, for a state like California, we require more than 30,000-40,000 people be a least trained in trauma care.”

13 percent of Californians, 5 million people, live in rural settings where roads are limited and transportation takes longer. In Central California, a dozen hospitals have closed since 2000.

The death rate for trauma patients in rural areas is twice that of those in an urban setting.

Vyas implemented a similar plan in Texas and in India, and trauma deaths were cut in half.

Rich Ibarra

Contributing Central Valley/Foothills Reporter

As the Central Valley correspondent, Rich Ibarra covers San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Merced counties, along with the foothill areas including Tuolumne and Calaveras counties. He covers politics, the economy and issues affecting the region.   Read Full Bio 

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