Paramedics pilot new device for heart patients - @

Paramedics pilot new device for heart patients



Alexa James | | Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Newburgh A Hudson Valley paramedic service has been authorized to test out a new treatment devise that could save heart patients' lives, stunt hospital stays and slash medical bills.

As of July 1, Mobile Life Support Services is carrying a new system called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or CPAP (pronounced "see-pap") on board every ambulance in Orange. Ulster, Dutchess and Rockland counties.

The six-month pilot program, authorized by the Hudson Valley Regional Emergency Medical Services Council, is designed for patients suffering from early signs of congestive heart failure and a condition known as pulmonary edema, caused by an accumulation of fluid in the lungs.

The CPAP design is simple and cheap: a mask, a strap to hold it over the patient's nose and mouth and tubes connecting to a small air tank. Each one-time-use set costs about $60. It works by continuously blowing oxygen or room air, under low pressure, into a patient's airway. As the patient inhales and exhales, the CPAP's constant air current keeps the lungs partially inflated and helps clear out unwanted fluid and pressure.

Mobile Life used it for the first time Monday morning to help a 64-year-old Newburgh man suffering shortness of breath. When paramedics arrived, he was collapsed in the hallway of his apartment, gasping for air.

The lower left ventricle of his heart had gone sluggish, causing a backup of blood and fluid to leak into the air sacs in his lungs.

"The air sacs filled just like a water bottle," said Mobile Life Vice President Ed Horton. "The patient was literally breathing through water."

In this type of situation, medics roll through a series of treatments. First, they supply oxygen to the patient, then administer a combination of drugs to decrease the heart's workload.

Despite those efforts, the oxygen in the bloodstream of Mobile Life's patient was at half the normal level. He was conscious, Horton said, but could only spit out a word or two at a time.

The next step, in this scenario, is typically intubation inserting a tube down the patient's throat so he can be hooked up to a ventilator. It's an invasive and potentially dangerous maneuver, and once a patient is on a ventilator, it can take several days in the hospital to get him safely off the machines.

Use of the CPAP often eliminates the need for intubation and accompanying prolonged hospital stay.

As the Mobile Life medics loaded their patient into the ambulance, en route to St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital in Newburgh, they tried the CPAP for the first time, coaching the man to inhale and exhale as the specially designed nasal mask pushed a steady stream of air into his chest.

"The given amount of oxygen flow creates a turbulence in the flooded air sacs," said Horton. "The turbulence creates a virtual valve. After 15 or 20 minutes (with the CPAP) you'll actually start moving that fluid back into the capillary bed."

It worked like a charm on Mobile Life's guy. By the time they arrived at the hospital, Horton said, the man was speaking in full sentences, his blood oxygen at normal levels.

"This is exactly the kind of patient we put this in place for," said Horton. He predicts hundreds of CPAP cases during the pilot project. At the end of the six-month test run, the Hudson Valley Regional Emergency Medical Services Council will evaluate Mobile Life's work and decide if ambulance services throughout the region can use the CPAP. The equipment for the study was purchased by Mobile Life, which is not receiving funding from any CPAP manufacturers.

Paramedics in Albany, Long Island and Westchester County, along with about half the country, already use the CPAP system. "Understand this is not going to substitute in every case," said Horton, but as an additional tool, "this is a no-brainer."

Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Airway and Respiratory

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Buyer's Guide Featured Companies

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

Get JEMS in Your Inbox


Fire EMS Blogs

Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts


EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Advancement

This is the seventh year of the EMS 10 Innovators in EMS program, jointly sponsored by Physio-Control and JEMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Salt Lake City Firefighters Injured in Firehouse Fire

Nine sent to a hospital with smoke inhalation.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Pennsylvania Paramedic Killed in the Line of Duty

West End Ambulance medic killed at accident scene.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Wesleyan Students Hospitalized for Overdose

11 students transported to local hospitals.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Rigs Going in Service from EMS Today 2015

Snap shots of some of the vehicles at EMS Today that will be on the streets soon
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Florida Hospital Fire

Fire halts construction project at Tampa cancer center.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >

More Product Videos >