Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Airway Control

When a patient falls unconscious, there is a real danger that the tongue will slip to the back of the throat and block the airway or nasopharynx. When this happens medical personnel must quickly provide an advanced airway to keep the patient alive. They can assist the patient in breathing by forcing air into the lungs with a manually operated bag valve.

This week, Hillsboro Fire and Rescue firefighter/medics have been training on the use of the King Airway device. It’s a specially-designed tube with inflatable collars that medics can insert into the patient’s throat to provide a means to force air into their lungs. The device also contains a tube that provides a vent for gastric pressure and stomach decompression. It also channels any vomit outside the body rather than allowing it to be aspirated into the patient’s lungs.
Our Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technician-Intermediates have been using this device for some time now. EMT-Basics received their training and skill assessment on the use of this device this week. The device, which can be inserted even while medics are performing cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), is just another tool in the tool box of firefighters working to save lives.

All firefighters at Hillsboro Fire & Rescue are trained Emergency Medical Technicians. There are three levels of training, EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate and EMT-Paramedic. An engine, truck or rescue company is dispatched on every call for an ambulance because they can often reach the patient first and begin life-saving treatment. Once the ambulance arrives, firefighter/medics hand off the patient to ambulance medics for transportation to the nearest hospital. If the patient is condition is critical, one or more firefighters will accompany the patient to the hospital to supplement ambulance medics. This provides the highest level of service to our citizens.

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