Emerging Trends from EMS EXPO 2007

Courtesy photo
The Comfort Zone Blanket Warmer, a personal favorite from the EMS EXPO.
The recent 2007 EMS EXPO, held last November in Orlando, was a bit down from previous years in terms of attendance. But the EXPO can always be relied upon as a showcase for the latest emerging EMS product trends, and the recent show was no exception. Here’s a recap of some of the most notable:

Hard Cases
One exciting trend on display at EXPO was the new crop of hard cases hitting the market. Seeing them brought me back full-circle to the way I first carried gear. However, today’s hard cases are far better than anything we ever dreamed of in back the ‘70s. Those cases were hard to use and constantly falling apart. Most were really just fishing tackle boxes. The latest in EMS hard kits are designed and organized much better — some can even heat or cool your drugs.

Thomas EMS has incorporated its experience from many years of making soft packs into comprehensive new designs organized inserts for the 1550 Pelican case. The company also introduced an enhanced version of its popular mid-sized aeromedical packs with a built-in heater.

Also new is Clima-Tech’s thermostatically controlled hard drug case. I’ve seen both drug heaters and drug coolers before — but never a case that does both. Some progressive agencies have thermostatically controlled drug cabinets built into their ambulance, but you can’t carry them to the patient. With the Clima-Tech, you just pull the plug and off you go.

Another innovative hard case that was on display at the EXPO is “The Professional” from Seavival. It’s a rugged ABS medical kit with a one-handed latching mechanism. With a one-quarter twist of the handle, the Professional opens up for complete access to your equipment. It has a molded gasket to keep the elements out, and is perfect for motorcycle responders — demonstrated at the show on a gorgeous Harley Medic Bike.

Digital Video Intubation Devices
Another evolving trend from the EXPO is new digital video intubation devices. In recent years we have seen a big trend toward rescue airways, while intubation technology lagged behind. Now we are finally seeing compact and durable digital visualization devices designed to offer EMS providers the same tools that anesthesiologists have enjoyed for years.

For me, the new Pentax Airway Scope AWS-S100 video laryngoscope really stole the show. It provides a crystal clear color image with a superimposed “target sight.” Once you line up the crosshairs of the sight on the cords, you just push the ET tube and watch it go in. The quality and technology are remarkable. It‘s even more compact than the excellent Ranger Glidescope, another high-end, high-quality, digital intubation device. The only downside to these products is the price; at a staggering $6,000 to $9,000, these products really make you ask yourself, “What’s a secure airway really worth?”

Another new video laryngoscope is the Res-Q-Scope, which was on display at the Southeastern Emergency booth. The screen image is not as crisp as the Pentax, but at less than $1,000, it’s only a fraction of the price of the higher-end models.

The intubating portion of the King Airtraq is similar to the Res-Q-Scope, but it has no digital screen. One advantage of all these devices is that they require very little manipulation of the C-spine. Neutral neck alignment actually makes them easier to use. These three devices are built upon some key design principles first explored by Dr. Scott Augustine with his groundbreaking Augustine Guide back in the ‘80s.

The latest version of the Rusch Viewmax Blade is a more traditional laryngoscope device with simple optics. The Trueview EVO from Teleflex Medical is a more acutely angled version of the Viewmax. The Viewmax is actually easier to use if you keep your eye 12”-15” away from the view port. The quality optic lens expands and angles your view. One nice feature for us older medics is that it usually eliminates the need for reading glasses to intubate. There are rumors that it could also soon be made available with a digital view screen component.

Truphatek, from Israel, has long been the manufacturer for many of the best Rusch brand laryngoscope blades sold by Teleflex Medical. The company introduced a new disposable laryngoscope at the EXPO. It consists of a disposable steel LED blade with a compact integrated AA handle. The light is very bright — much brighter than any disposable fiber optic blade.

My Favorites
One of my personal favorites from the EXPO this year is the new Comfort Zone Blanket Warmer. It’s a real “why didn’t I think of that” product. The blanket has a durable hard case that holds and heats a standard blanket. Sometimes a warm blanket and a warm smile are worth more to your patients than anything else you carry on the rig. The only downside is the need for AC power. If you don’t have an inverter, you can’t really use it.

AllMed launched the new AllMed AVC Helmet and AllMed Ultra-X EMS Coat. Everybody loved the new AVC helmet’s new carbon-fiber finish, improved visor, and LED light. The new Ultra-X EMS Coat was also very popular, with one corner of the booth constantly serving as a dressing room. The only negative we heard was the need for more sizes.

The pediatric seat also got some attention this year when Safeguard officially launched the Transport, a definite hit with the EXPO crowd. It seems many of us were more than ready for a way to safely transport any sized kid on the stretcher, and this product was long overdue.

Overall, the 2007 EMS EXPO provided evidence that some of the new EMS product trends are definitely moves in the right direction. I’m sensing an increased receptiveness to new safety technologies and better airway devices — both welcome trends, in my opinion.

About the author

Dan White, EMT-P works for Intersurgical, Inc. as the National Account Manager for EMS. Immediately prior he ran Arasan, LLC. He served as Sales & Marketing Director for Truphatek, Inc. and before that Director of Corporate Planning & Product Development for AllMed. He has been certified as a paramedic since 1978 and an EMS and ACLS instructor since 1981. Dan has designed many emergency medical products since his first, the White Pulmonary Resuscitator, including the Prolite Speedboad, Cook Needle Decompression Kit and RapTag Triage System. His more recent EMS product designs are the Arasan Ultra EMS Coat and the B2 Paramedic Helmet. To contact Dan, email dan.white@ems1.com.

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