Paramedics are Now Critical Care Certified

In addition to providing one of two full paramedic staffs in the state, Alamosa County Ambulance now has three critical care paramedics. Douglas Wagaman, Robert Cook and Travis Koppenhafer have completed five months of education and associated national testing to become certified critical care transport paramedics (CC-P), as well as certified flight paramedics (CF-P).

“It helps raise the bar for everyone here,” Koppenhafer said. “We’re fortunate enough to work in a department where you can further your education. Especially working in a rural area, it’s important for us to be able to treat people to the best of our ability.”

The state of Colorado recently adopted a critical care endorsement that will allow these individuals an expanded scope of practice in the critical care transport arena.

“We now know more about pathophysiology and can understand the long term outcome of procedures we do on the ambulance,” said Koppenhafer. CC-P can also use more advanced equipment like ventilators, chest tubes and blood for transfusions.

Wagaman said, “We’re more like a mobile intensive care unit, which makes transfers to other hospitals easier.”

As of 2013, there were only 2,000 certified flight paramedics worldwide and now three of those work for SLV Health.

“I learned a lot more in that class than I learned in paramedic school,” Wagaman said. “More education will only make you better.”