Children and infants represent our future, which is why keeping them safe is an important task. In 2021, there were over 352,000 emergency department (ED) visits for patients ages 19 and under. Approximately 43% of Wisconsin’s EDs are located in counties designated as rural, based on classification by the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health. These rural EDs are smaller, see a lower number of pediatric patients, and may not be optimally resourced or prepared to treat kids. In an effort to properly care for children in the ED, Wisconsin Emergency Medical Services for Children (WI EMSC) helps train Pediatric Emergency Care Coordinators (PECCs) with different hospitals statewide.

Hospital PECCs advocating for children

Hospital PECCs help advocate for children by stocking pediatric-sized equipment, ensuring staff are familiar with pediatric policies and protocols, and promoting hospital involvement in a quality improvement program that ensures children presenting to an ED receive the best care possible.

WI EMSC is currently recruiting hospital PECCs to be part of a growing network of providers committed to improving pediatric emergency care. A hospital PECC can either be a physician or a nurse. WI EMSC will offer virtual quarterly meetings for hospital PECCs, featuring presentations on best practices related to topics applicable to EDs statewide.

Ali Heiman, trauma program coordinator and registered nurse lead in the ED at Aurora Medical Center – Oshkosh, knows that caring for children during emergencies can be complicated, which is why PECCs have such a big impact on the communities they serve. Currently, there are nearly 40 hospital PECCs in Wisconsin, and WI EMSC is working to identify a PECC at every hospital in the state.

“This program is vital because children have worse outcomes if facilities aren’t prepared to treat them,” says Heiman. “Caring for children can be intimidating and even scary, too, because they’re so much different than adults. Equipping our ED with a PECC has had a huge impact when it comes to caring for our pediatric patients.”

Pediatric patients require different care than adults

Children require different care than the typical adult patients. Children are smaller, still developing and process their emotions differently. Being able to properly care for children in EDs is crucial to their development later in life, according to Heiman.

“A trip to the ED can be a traumatic event for kids,” she says. “If we focus on the children in our ED during these events, we set ourselves up for a healthier future. It’s our responsibility to make sure that these patients receive the highest quality care, and being a PECC helps make sure that goal is met.”

To learn more about becoming a PECC and improving your hospital’s pediatric care, contact Erica Kane at