Can You Really Clear an Airway with a Ballpoint Pen Like in the Movies?

Posted by Sam D. Say

Feb 20, 2020 8:00:00 AM

It’s a dramatic plot twist in movies, medical dramas, and even the occasional sitcom: a character is choking or in respiratory distress and standard interventions like the Heimlich maneuver just aren’t cutting it. So a heroic bystander takes things into their own hands and jams a pen into the victim’s throat, much to everyone’s horror. But then, to everyone’s shock and relief, doing so clears the airway, allowing the survivor to breathe until help arrives. But can you really do this? 

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Topics: Airway management, airway obstruction

Treating Smoke Inhalation: What Not to Do

Posted by Sam D. Say

Feb 18, 2020 8:00:00 AM

Fires kill more than 3,000 Americans each year. Most die not from burns but from oxygen deprivation due to smoke inhalation. Immediate survivors of the blaze are not out of the woods. The consequences of smoke inhalation can show up hours or even days later. Apparently healthy people can die even when they seem able to breathe. When treating smoke inhalation, here’s what not to do—and what you must do instead. 

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Topics: medical scenarios

What to Do When You Encounter a Hypotensive Patient

Posted by Sam D. Say

Feb 13, 2020 8:00:00 AM

Hypotension is clinically defined as systolic blood pressure below 90 or diastolic blood pressure below 60. Slight variations in these figures are normal, and very fit people may have unusually low blood pressure. So it’s important to take into account the patient’s full condition, not just their blood pressure. When a patient has other symptoms, such as dizziness or fainting, hypotension may signal a serious or even life-threatening ailment. If you encounter a hypotensive patient, here’s what you need to know to administer proper treatment. 

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Topics: Emergency medical suction

How to Train EMS Teams on Prehospital Airway Suctioning

Posted by Sam D. Say

Feb 11, 2020 8:00:00 AM

Prehospital airway suctioning can treat aspiration, choking, obstructed airways, and other common emergencies. Yet many first responders spend little time thinking about, let alone practicing, this vital skill. Because all interventions, including suctioning, carry some risks, this lack of experience may make providers reluctant to suction patients. Training EMS teams on prehospital airway suctioning can counteract this reluctance and empower teams to provide prompt, efficient, effective care in a wide variety of emergency settings. 

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Topics: Emergency medical suction, Airway management

5 Key Factors for Managing Airways in Children

Posted by Sam D. Say

Feb 6, 2020 8:00:00 AM

Respiratory issues are common in children. Choking remains a leading cause of childhood injury and death. About 1 percent of newborns experience respiratory distress, and respiratory issues are the leading cause of death among premature infants. Drowning and aspiration are relatively common. An injured or sick child is always a crisis, and caregivers may be panicking as you tend to their beloved little one. The following tips can help you masterfully treat children in a way that saves their lives, protects their dignity, and reassures their caregivers. 

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Topics: Airway management

Advanced Airway Management Techniques to Use in an Emergency

Posted by Sam D. Say

Feb 4, 2020 8:00:00 AM

Advanced airway management goes beyond simple airway management techniques you might learn in a single class. Advanced airway techniques fall into three broad categories, each with a wide variety of techniques and skills a practitioner must master. 

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Topics: Airway management

How to Know When Airway Discomfort Is a Serious Problem

Posted by Sam D. Say

Jan 30, 2020 8:00:00 AM

Allergies, a minor cold, and the flu can all cause airway discomfort. But complications from these usually minor conditions can be dangerous, especially to vulnerable people such as elders and children. Serious conditions such as aspiration, partial obstructions, pneumonia, and other disorders may also trigger airway discomfort. So when is airway discomfort a sign of a serious problem, and when is it just a passing symptom? First responders must know the difference. 

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Topics: Airway management

The Consequences of a Dirty Suction Machine

Posted by Sam D. Say

Jan 28, 2020 8:00:00 AM

Treating patients during emergencies, whether you’re a doctor, nurse, or EMS professional, is stressful and exhausting work. Competent, compassionate care often requires working as quickly as possible while minimizing needless distractions. Many providers skip lunch and breaks, ignore their own personal needs, and work hour after hour in frigid temperatures or on empty stomachs. So it’s understandable that you might skip cleaning your suction machine, especially if you feel burdened by rules and regulations that seem to do little to help patients. A dirty suction machine, however, is more than just a technical violation of the rules. It poses a serious threat to vulnerable patients. 

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Topics: Medical Suction

The Consequences Patient Care Providers Face When They Fail to Use Their Tools

Posted by Sam D. Say

Jan 23, 2020 8:00:00 AM

Patient care providers—doctors, first responders, nurses, and a veritable cornucopia of other experts—all must rely on a deep toolbox of life-saving equipment. Caring for patients requires that care providers know when, where, and how to use these tools, and that they keep these tools ready to go at all times. This is more than just a professional duty; it’s a moral obligation. Care providers can face serious consequences when they fail to prepare and correctly use their tools. 

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Topics: Respiratory

What You Need to Know About Supraglottic Airways

Posted by Sam D. Say

Jan 21, 2020 8:00:00 AM

Supraglottic airway devices are a mainstay of emergency management. They open the upper airway, allowing a person to breathe when there is an airway obstruction. Supraglottic devices such as the laryngeal mask airway (LMA) were once primarily used in surgical settings where a patient was under general anesthesia. Today, these devices are standard in many first responder’s kit because of their ability to quickly and safely secure the airway. When tracheal intubation or mask ventilation fail or become impossible to manage, a supraglottic airway can fill the void, preventing or treating serious respiratory emergencies. 

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Topics: Aspiration