- Associated Press - Friday, March 7, 2014

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Paramedics from four states have gathered in Sioux City for an annual conference that focuses on the skills needed to keep patients alive until they can reach a hospital.

The Emergency Conference involving paramedics, EMTs, nurses and other personnel is being held Friday and Saturday at the Sioux City Convention Center.

National and local speakers are scheduled to discuss issues like motor vehicle collisions, hazardous materials and illnesses, the Sioux City Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1ihnTdV ).

Paramedics and others are often considered the eyes and ears of the emergency room physician waiting for a patient to arrive at the hospital. Thomas Benzoni, an ER physician at Mercy Medical Center-Sioux City, said those minutes of critical care during transport can be the difference between life and death for a patient.

“If that piece doesn’t work right, all this fancy stuff that we do, all this trauma designation means nothing if the patient is dead,” he added.

Paramedics, EMTs, nurses and other personnel at the conference have come from Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and South Dakota. Terry Sudrla, an area paramedic, called the emergency medical services profession “a very young profession. It changes just like the generations change. You have to stay updated with processes, protocols and equipment.”

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Information from: Sioux City Journal, http://www.siouxcityjournal.com