FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle+RSS Feed
Fire EMSEMS TodayEMS Insider

Fire Department Taking Cooler Approach to Heart Attacks

COLORADO SPRINGS -- A treatment for heart attack victims that may some day rank among CPR and defibrillating paddles as one of the most effective ways to help people survive will now be used by the Colorado Springs Fire Department.

The department will be the first in Colorado to induce hypothermia at the scene in heart attack victims who have their pulses restored by chest compressions or shock paddles. High-profile studies have shown that cooling the body following a major heart attack can dramatically improve the likelihood that a patient will survive or experience fewer complications.

A 2002 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine compared heart attack patients resuscitated by ventricular fibrillation who received hypothermia to those who didn't. Of the cooled patients, 55 percent had a favorable outcome, compared with 39 percent in the other group. Only 41 percent of the cooled patients died by six months, compared with 55 percent in the non-cooled group.

"I really think hypothermia is going to play a tremendous role in the future in saving patients," said Capt. Glenn Conklin, of the department's medical division. "I really think it's going to be one of the top three things that we do."

Many hospitals now induce mild hypothermia in their heart attack patients, a process that usually involves pumping a cooled saline solution into the veins. But only about 50 emergency medical services perform the procedure in the field.

When a heart attack victim is revived after losing a pulse, a cascade of new health complications can begin in what is known as a reperfusion injury. Essentially, the blood changes when it's deprived of oxygen, so when it begins flowing again, it can be toxic to what was previously healthy tissue. Mild hypothermia is thought to counter such inflammation and cause other bodily responses that help fight this secondary wave of damage.

Although patients can be cooled at the hospital, local health officials hope that starting the process earlier will make it more effective.

The fire department responds to about 300 heart attack calls a year, although not all require the same level of treatment.

The fire department has invested about $20,000 in cooling equipment and another $20,000 to upgrade cardiac monitors to handle the hypothermia procedure, Conklin said. The program is starting with five fire stations, he said, but the entire fire department should be equipped by the end of the month. The fire department employs about 130 medical personnel, and 20 fire engines have a trained paramedic each day.

Although the region's contracted ambulance company, American Medical Response, is not performing such procedures, Conklin said it will help transport patients who are being cooled and provide support. Patients also will continue to be cooled at the city's four hospitals.

Researchers are also studying hypothermia's ability to help with brain injuries, but less is known about its effectiveness and uses in that area. The fire department is limiting its use to heart attack victims.

Contact the writer: 636-0198 or brian.newsome@gazette.com


Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival to Begin Collecting Data to Measure CPR Quality

Data will assist in providing uniform reporting metrics back to agencies to assist with their internal quality improvement efforts.

Epileptic Effect: The Aftermath of a Seizure isn’t Always What it Seems

You and your partner are dispatched to a 60ish-year-old female with signs and symptoms of a possible stroke.

Thorough Assessment is Crucial in Patients with Respiratory Distress

Accurate observation and treatment go a long way when considering all causes of respiratory distress.

Oklahoma City & Tulsa EMS Become First System to Adopt ResQCPR as a Standard of Care

Today the Medical Control Board for the EMS System for Metropolitan Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla., unanimously voted to approve the ResQCPR system by ZOLL a...

Tilt Angle Significantly Affects CPR

Test on pigs show patient tilt angle can have a positive effect on cerebral perfusion.

ZOLL ResQCPR™ System Receives Premarket Approval from the FDA

Chelmsford, Mass.— ZOLL® Medical Corporation, a manufacturer of medical devices and related software solutions, today announced that the company&rs...

Features by Topic

JEMS Connect




Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

Featured Careers