How many times have you wanted to kick yourself after seeing a new EMS knickknack? You probably said, "I should've thought of that."
When EMS was just beginning to invent itself, there was no time, money or interest in the merchandising of our industry. We used whatever happened to be lying around at the time. This may have included a fishing tackle box to hold on-scene supplies, a turkey baster to suction yucky regurgitated items, splinter-free whittled-down plywood sheets for backboards, sandbags for head blocks, plier- and knife-based combination tools for looking cool, and bubble wrap for cushioning and immobilizing extremity fractures (just to mention a few reusables.)
Note: The temptation to pop the bubble wrap while checking capillary refill was too overwhelming and was thereby reduced to a one-time utilization device.
As the pages of EMS commodity catalogs grow thicker, I often wonder if I missed my opportunity to put my name on a groundbreaking innovation that would've enhanced field care, or more importantly, put some coinage in my pocket to enhance post patient-care early retirement. I have no illusion that my neurons could even muster the strength to organize a mesh of logistical thought processes leading to a brilliant life-saving technology, but maybe there's still an opportunity to create an awe-inspiring manufactured EMS good that's pure intellect in conception yet simple to apply. You know, like taking an existing domestic device, such as a power tool from your garage, and reconfiguring it into a gizmo for infusing fluids. Nah!
As Anon once said, "Necessity is the mother of invention."
But Agatha Christie countered with, "I don't think necessity is the mother of invention -- invention, in my opinion, arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness." (This explains the success of Cheese Whiz, Silly Putty and the Big Mouth Billy Bass.)
However, there will always be a need to envision and create fast, safe, stress-reducing procedures and data-gathering devices in a profession where time and information mean everything, especially for people who keep up with their health insurance premiums. The inventor of CPAP, for example, made it so much easier to treat "wet lungers" in the field by merely creating a mask of positive-pressure -- to place over a patient's face. This replaced the difficult task of forcing a patient's wide-opened mouth outside the window in line with the 60 mph winds induced by a speeding ambulance.
I think EMS needs a new product directory. Maybe something parallel to the Sky Mall catalog next to the barf bags on airplanes. Who hasn't skimmed through the pages at the same speed the plane is flying, thinking, "What kind of dark and twisted soul comes up with this crap?" Reading the directions on the barf bags is more entertaining than viewing page after page of useless novelty items, but maybe those superfluous creations can be a catalyst for superfluous EMS fabrications. Let's start with a few of my own random yet ground-breaking merchandise for common and uncommon procedures.
Carbonated IV solution: Just shake the bag before opening the shutoff valve for avery rapid enhancing patient fluid challenge.
Scented ECG pads: Use with the odiferous patient who failed hygiene in health class. The monitor cables break the seal of scented gel when applied to the pads.
Breath-freshening nitro spray: This nitro spray has a hint of minty freshness.
Paint ball triage: Offered in red, orange, yellow, green and black, these colored paint balls enable you to triage MCI patients from a safe distance outside the hot zone.
Velcro-coated backboards: With this product, no straps are needed to securely immobilize patients with hairy backs to the board.
Nitro Pez: Self-explanatory.
Spray foam immobilizer: Shake the can. Holding it upright, spray foam between the superior and inferior points of injury. Similar to Cheese Whiz, this hardens in minutes.
Sham Wow diaper: It's a chamois, towel and sponge all in one. It holds 40 times its weight in body fluids. Buy one, and if you call now during this limited-time offer, we will include two Sham Wow chuck pads and one bottle of Oxi(gen) Clean.
Outlandish? Ludicrous? Over the top? Maybe. But sometimes dumb luck can supersede genius when it comes to inventive practicality. Did you know there_s an actual patent out there pending for a product called the "flatulence deodorizer?" It's a pad worn around the pelvic region that absorbs gas. Don't tell me that isn't an invention central to human advancement. I wonder if that comes with a muffler accessory?
Until next time, pass the beans. --JEMS
Steve Berry has been a paramedic for the past 25 years in the southern Colorado region. He's the author of the cartoon book series I'm Not An Ambulance Driver and invites you to visit his website at www.iamnotanambulancedriver.com to purchase his books or CDs.