A pervasive, and easily understandable myth in the healthcare world is that many education programs are grounded in the same science. Resuscitation efforts, in particular, often are considered through that lens. However, there are many different organizations and disciplines offering guidelines, scientific evidence, and more to Basic Life Support, Advanced Life Support, and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (BLS, ALS, and PALS) programs, and so they should be assessed accordingly.
“Much of the materials that underpin them come from the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation, or ILCOR, which informs the work of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the American Red Cross, its Scientific Advisory Council, and related entities,” explains Dr. David Markenson, Chief Medical Officer for the American Red Cross Training Services and Medical Director at the New York Medical College Center for Disease Medicine, which he co-founded in 2005.
“ILCOR was formed in 1992, and it's a forum for every resuscitation organization, national and international, to get together and say, ‘What does the science show? What is the best sign?’ ILCOR has groups in different disciplines that look over the evidence around a specific topic, publish a consensus on the science and what the science shows, and then what treatment would be recommended,” says Dr. Markenson, who also is a pediatric emergency medicine and pediatric critical care physician, as well as being internationally recognized as a pioneer and leader in disaster medicine, health system preparedness and education, public health preparedness, and operational medicine. (He also refers to himself as a “recovering paramedic.”)
ILCOR's goal, he explains, “is to take that science and develop educational programs that are based on the science. In the United States, both the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association base their cardiac resuscitation education on these guidelines.”
The science informs the guidelines, creating more valuable education programs
What ILCOR doesn’t do is take the scientific evaluations at its disposal and put it into courses. It leaves that for other entities, such as the American Red Cross, because they are more attuned to who the end users will be, Dr. Markenson points out. And that is the point where training programs can dramatically diverge between providers.
“The purpose of ILCOR is to allow people to understand what the science shows,” he says. “Then an organization like the American Red Cross has to say, ‘Who is our target audience? What is the best way to provide education? What do the laws and regulations in the United States allow?’ Since ILCOR is an international body, they can say what the scientific literature says and show its recommendations, but they then need organizations like the American Red Cross to put that science in an educational format for our students.”
In the case of American Red Cross content, he adds, what emerges is built upon much more than the wealth of information that ILCOR provides, making its programs very well-rounded and robust, as well as useful across a wide range of healthcare disciplines.
“[ILCOR data is] one of the cornerstones and foundations of American Red Cross resuscitation programs’ science content, but not the only scientific basis,” he says. “The use of ILCOR plus other sources and oversight of the programs the Red Cross teaches is done by the Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council, a group of 50 to 60 volunteers, who are scientific, academic emergency leaders, with expertise in everything from healthcare, to preparedness, to education. They take both ILCOR research, which is focused on cardiac and cardiac resuscitation, and then go into other areas such as sepsis or bleeding, which also need resuscitation, to create evidence-based guidelines to go into our programs. They work in two domains: clinical literature, what we have to do clinically, and then education literature, which outlines the best way to teach, empower, and retain the information by our students.”
Learn more about the American Red Cross Resuscitation Suite ™ for BLS, ALS and PALS.
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