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Over the past few decades, EMS providers have rapidly adopted hospital technologies-- from pulse oximetry to 12-lead ECG monitoring to capnography — that have allowed emergency responders to capture more accurate patient information and deliver better care. Amar Patel, director of the WakeMed Center for Innovative Learning, which is part of WakeMed Health and Hospitals in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, believes that the next wave of technology for EMS will be ultrasound.
“Ultrasound can help us manage and treat patients’ medical trauma more effectively,” says Patel. “It’s a tool that we need to embrace.”
An emergency responder can use point-of-care ultrasound to conduct an enhanced Focused Assessment with Sonography in Trauma (eFAST) exam to check for fluid around the heart or in the abdomen, to diagnose a pneumothorax, or for ultrasound-guided vascular access.
“Knowledge is power. If I see that there’s blood in the belly and the blood pressure is low, it will change the treatment. I’m going to go to a trauma care center,” say Patel. “If I can diagnose a pneumothorax and tell the doctor he’s got a hole in his left lung, it will help speed up the management of the diagnosis and care.”
Patel uses a CAE Healthcare Vimedix ultrasound simulator to train emergency responders, and has found that simulation helps speed up the learning process.
“Ultrasound is still a new thing to first responders. The Vimedix anatomy shows you everything that’s there. It helps students become comfortable with the probe direction and better understand what’s there as you move the probe.”