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South Metro Fire Rescue hopes to become Colorado’s first EMS agency to use mobile ultrasound in prehospital care.
The agency is seeking approval by the state to launch a pilot program to evaluate the effectiveness of the devices when used in ambulances.
South Metro EMS Chief Rick Lewis says he expects to file an application with the Emergency Medical Practices Advisory Council (EMPAC), which makes recommendations to the state board of medical examiners, in the next few weeks.
If approved, South Metro would likely acquire three ultrasound units, and train several paramedics in their use, says Susan Chesnick, South Metro EMS operations captain. Chesnick says each of South Metro’s three battalions would likely get one of the units.
Ultrasound units have decreased significantly in size and cost in recent years.
Unlike the older models that were the size of a shopping cart and were wheeled from room to room, South Metro will be using units about the size of an iPad. They can be hooked up to a transducer, which carries within it the ultrasound capabilities.
Ultrasound technology can be used to evaluate trauma patients for abdominal bleeding, detect abdominal aortic aneurysms, detect cardiac PEA, and other conditions, Lewis says.
In cases where a patient is in cardiac arrest, ultrasound can determine whether the heart is not beating and not generating electrical activity. “And if so, then we can definitively say we can call off additional resuscitation efforts,” Lewis says.
If the pilot study demonstrates that the ultrasound is cost effective and effective in patient treatment, David Sanko, EMS manager, Centura Health South Denver Group Prehospital Services, says, “Then we’ll look at getting more of these units out onto the streets and into the hands of paramedics.”
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