Respiratory Care, also known as Respiratory Therapy, is a branch of healthcare that specializes in pulmonary medicine. Respiratory therapists are trained to work therapeutically with people
suffering from pulmonary disease. Respiratory therapists graduate from a community college or university with a certification in respiratory therapy and have passed a national board certifying examination. The NBRC (National Board
for Respiratory Care) is the not-for-profit organization responsible for credentionaling several areas of Respiratory Therapy.Those seven areas of Respiratory Therapy include, as of December 2017: CRT (Certified Respiratory Therapist),
RRT (Registered Respiratory Therapist), CPFT and RPFT (Certified or Registered Pulmonary Function Technologist), ACCS (Adult Critical Care Specialist), NPS (Neonatal/Pediatric Specialist), and SDS (Sleep Disorder Specialist).
Respiratory therapists work in hospitals in the intensive care units (Adult, Pediatric, and Neonatal), on hospital floors, in Emergency Departments, in Pulmonary Functioning laboratories (PFTs), are able to intubate patients, work in sleep labs (polysomnograpy) (PSG) labs, and in home care specifically DME (Durable Medical Equipment) and home oxygen. They are specialists and educators in many areas including cardiology, pulmonology, and sleep therapy. They are trained in advanced airway management; establishing and maintaining the airway during management of trauma, and intensive care.
Respiratory therapists initiate and manage life support for people in intensive care units and emergency departments, stabilizing, treating and managing pre-hospital and hospital-to-hospital patient transport by air or ground ambulance. In the outpatient setting respiratory therapists work as educators in asthma clinics, ancillary clinical staff in pediatric clinics, and sleep-disorder diagnosticians in sleep-clinics, they also serve as clinical providers in cardiology clinics and cath-labs, as well as working in pulmonary rehabilitation.
Transport of neonatal and pediatric patients requires special equipment and skills. Specialty transport teams exist to transport specific patient populations, specifically neonatal and pediatric patients. These patients can present
with diseases and conditions that are best done with a team specialized in that care.
Caring for neonates creates challenges not seen in traditional and higher volume transport environments such as traditional EMS, 911 and other adult patient driven situations. Alternate crew configurations, (RNs, RRT, NNP, MDs), special equipment and devices, clinical processes, procedures and skills, all contribute to a different transport experience.
Equipment needed for these transports is important, as neonates must be transported in a thermoneutral environment. This means the use of an isolette, incubator style devices that provides servo feedback to regulate the heat. Babies often need mechanical ventilation and specialty treatment and interventions (surfactant, intubation, high frequency ventilation and nitric oxide administration etc).
Other projects are available on a site I developed NeoPedsTransport.