Helping a patient breathe

Published: Sep. 18, 2017 at 3:39 PM CDT
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Emergency responders from Ashwaubenon Public Safety and De Pere trained to learn another way to help a patient breathe on Monday.

It's called cricothyrotomy and it's a last-resort but after some recent critical care cases, Aurora Baycare helped provide personnel with a review.

There's a lot an emergency responder can do to save a patient's life before making it to the hospital --- and this technique is one of them.

“A lack of an airway will cause somebody to die and have permanent brain damage within 4-6 minutes, that is much shorter than the time it takes, to get to any of our hospitals on any given day,” said Dr. Steve Stroman, an EMS Physician with Baycare Clinic.

It’s a high stress procedure that needs to fast and efficient.

“That is a last chance airway, basically a field procedure where the paramedics needing to supply an airway for the patients in the field would use a scalpel and actually cut through the patient's skin to their trachea and airway in order to provide air and ventilation for the patients,” said Don Riha, Lieutenant of Public Safety in Ashwaubenon.

Aurora Baycare's Medical Director of trauma, Dr. Michael Mackowski, leading the training using pig tracheas, said this last-resort procedure makes a difference for him when the patient arrives.

“If the procedure is performed correctly on the front end, it makes conversion to a formal airway procedure in the operating room a lot easier for me,” said Dr. Mackowski.

The training is a review and a way to give e-m-s personnel the confidence, if it comes down to it.

“When you do it multiple times and have the interaction to be able to do it, even if it's every 3 or 4 years just to have that knowledge and say hey ok I can revert back to this, feel comfortable in your skills and be able to do the task,” said Dan Gatz, a De Pere paramedic.