SENATOBIA, Miss. - A difficult situation emergency medical personnel face daily is treating patients who are unable to breathe on their own. Recently, the Northwest Mississippi Community College Emergency Medical Technology program received a donation that can help students preparing to become paramedics make facing this difficult situation a bit easier.
"This is cutting-edge technology in airway management," said David Kuchta, director of Northwest's Paramedic program. Kuchta was referring to the VividTrac Single-Use Video Intubation Device, which allows medical professionals to intubate a patient using a device that has a self-focusing camera, allowing the operator to view the path the instrument is moving down inside the patient as he or she is being intubated. "You can see what you are doing without moving or manipulating the patient, or hitting the teeth or tongue. Even five years ago this was not even thought of. This is a quantum leap in technology for what we are doing," Kuchta said.
The program received the devices for classroom use from Mercury Medical. The devices, which cost approximately $65 each, are designed to be disposable, Kuchta said. He explained that since they are not being used in the field, the devices can be used more than once in order to prepare students to actually use them on a real patient.
Kuchta is using the devices this summer in some of his classes so that he and fellow instructor Lisa Briscoe can get oriented to them. They plan to really use them more beginning in the fall semester. "It is definitely easy to pick up quickly. You can do it from whatever angle necessary as long as you are looking at that video. I adapted to it very easily," Josiah Jones, a student from Hernando said.
"You can use it to take a photo or a video, and thus verify what procedure you used. It helps if the tube comes out of the patient or there is some other trouble to have a record for the EMT," Kuchta said. Kuchta also noted that EMTs can even intubate a patient trapped inside a car. "You just need a laptop to plug the USB cable into. The software needed is provided by the company," he added.
The program also received a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (C-PAP) device. The C-PAP is also single use in the field, he explained. Kuchta said that a C-PAP device, which is sometimes used for sleep apnea patients, forces air into the lung. This allows patients exhale with resistance, which helps in clearing fluids from the lung. He said the C-PAP the students will be using in the classroom also allows the EMT to deliver medication. "With this particular model, you don't have to remove the mask to administer medicine, so it is less intrusive to the patient," Kuchta said.
He stated that in an emergency situation, EMTs are trained to start with the least intrusive method, such as adding oxygen to the patient, and then to move into more aggressive methods to insure that the patient is breathing.
Students are still taught to intubate manually. "This piece of equipment helps us do our job better and quicker, but it's not going to take away from the fact that they have to learn to do it manually," Kuchta said.
"We want to be proactive with our students, teaching them the new technologies that have proven to benefit the patient. We are going to go forward with them. When we have something we know works, we want to get ahead of the curve and be able to say we are already teaching that," Kuchta said.
For more information about Northwest's EMT program visit http://www.northwestms.edu or contact Kuchta at (662) 562-3986 or firstname.lastname@example.org