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Prosser (Wash.) Ambulances Equipped with Video Scopes

PROSSER, Wash. -- Ambulances here started carrying new video scopes Wednesday that help paramedics to intubate patients with breathing problems before they even reach the hospital.

And that's because two emergency room doctors didn't want to wait for the PMH Medical Center to purchase them.

Drs. Keith Butvilas and David Talbot of the hospital's emergency department each shelled out $1,000 of their own money to buy two King Systems video laryngoscopes for each of the hospital's two ambulances.

A laryngoscope is a tube that doctors, paramedics and other trained professionals slide down a patient's throat to help them breathe in emergencies -- no easy task on an obese neck or mangled face, such as after a car crash.

Video laryngoscopes let the provider better see what they are doing.

"This technology eliminates those concerns," said Butvilas, who trained the ambulance staff on the new scopes Wednesday.

Like many hospitals, similar video scopes are in the emergency departments in Prosser.

But Prosser's ambulances may be the first in the Northwest to carry the new pocket-size models, roughly the size of two iPhones, according to manufacturer King Systems.

Advanced Life Systems and American Medical Response, Yakima- based ambulance services, don't carry them yet. Neither does the Sunnyside Fire Department's medical vehicles.

"Our guys are pretty good at doing it the old-fashioned way," said Peter South, a manager and paramedic for Advanced Life Systems. He plans to consider the new technology, though.

Other companies will probably follow suit in no time at $1,000 each, said Butvilas.

The only reason he and Talbot purchased the scopes themselves was because they did not want to wait for the public hospital's capital expense request process, which would have pushed into next year.

"We wanted to get it out into our EMS providers much sooner," Talbot said.



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