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Top Product Picks from EMS EXPO

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This year’s EMS EXPO was an exciting showcase of many new products. The exhibit hall featured more innovations than in any of the previous years I’ve attended. Here are my top new product picks from EMS EXPO 2008.

Photo by Dan White
The Impact 731 Ventilator

One of the most advanced products at this year’s EXPO was the new Impact 731 Ventilator from Impact Instrumentation. The 731 offers an expansive feature set, yet still remains intuitively simple to operate. It is also amazingly compact. One great feature is the interface menu screen that prompts you on how to troubleshoot almost any problem that may arise, literally at the push of a button.

Personally, I was very pleased to see many new developments in CPAP technology. CPAP is not only the fastest growing EMS therapy products, it is also one of the most beneficial. CPAP therapy has been proven to reduce the number of endotracheal intubations and the length of hospital stays for patients.

There were some big advancements in non-invasive ventilation. At the Flotec booth, attendees got a glimpse of the new FloPAP Downs Flow-type CPAP. FloPac offers both user-adjustable flow and FIO2 with a fully adjustable PEEP — a first for any flow generator-style CPAP device. The compact size of both the device and the circuit are clearly intended to offer advantages for EMS use. The rugged construction looked nearly bulletproof, and from my experience with Flotec, it probably is.

A new flow generator from Pulmodyne was on display at the Bound Tree booth. The O2 RESQ is a completely disposable flow generator CPAP, featuring a plastic expansion chamber that connects to the high-pressure 50psi oxygen outlet. Unlike all the other disposables, this unique design can support positive pressure on the inspiratory side of respiration.

Airon displayed its new demand-flow type MACS CPAP device. This intuitive non-invasive ventilator has a built-in pressure gauge and variable PEEP control for easily titrated pressure adjustment. The device, similar to the Emergent CPAP PortO2Vent, only flows out gas during the patient’s inspiratory cycle, so that it conserves oxygen.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the many new vacuum spine boards on display. I’ve long thought that vacuum mattresses are clearly superior in terms of patient comfort. During extended immobilization, these simple and effective alternatives to a spine board can really improve comfort without compromising immobilization.

FareTec showed its new adult and pediatric models of the VacMat stretcher. Both feature a very high-quality, European-style bodies, with a rugged valve mechanism and durable construction. It also introduced its new LifeBox 50 Transport Containers.

Emergency Products + Research demonstrated its new full body adult mattress and its vacuum splint line. The mattress and semi-disposable splints offer agencies a more cost-effective option for orthopedic care. 

Photo by Dan White
The Air Stretcher

The most interesting new vacuum mattress unveiled at EXPO was the Air Stretcher from KSK Global of Japan. This truly innovative vacuum spine board has a high-density polyethylene slide board attached to the underside and can double as a soft evacuation stretcher. Extended descent control straps allow you to take people down tight stairways by sliding the stretcher along the ground. I can already see the safety benefit of using the Air Stretcher because, after all, you can’t drop people that are already on the ground.

Hartwell Medical announced that it is now in full production with the new CombiCarrier II. The CombiCarrier II is a combination of a plastic long spine board and a scoop stretcher. This second generation product has been improved dramatically, featuring a lighter, thinner frame and is easier to handle.

Two of the exciting airway products I had seen at EMS Today were present at EMS EXPO, except with new distribution partners. The awesome Pentax Airway Scope was on center stage at the Ambu booth. This crystal-clear video laryngoscope is compact and visually stunning. However, it’s also very expensive.

Photo by Dan White
CRIC Cricothyrotomy

The CRIC Cricothyrotomy kit, previewed at EMS Today, was partnered at EXPO with Pyng Medical and getting ready for the United States market. This compact, two-stage illuminated instrument can both incise and dilate access for placing an emergency airway.

VBM Medical has refined and enhanced its street-proven percutaneous access airway to now include a cuffed tube with a flexible tip. For those familiar with the Rusch Quicktrach, the new Quicktrach II could be a much welcomed improvement on a great product.

Another great airway product launched at the AllMed booth was the TruLite Disposable Laryngoscope, a completely disposable integrated blade-and-handle combination. The blades are made of polished stainless steel with a real forged tip. The super-bright LED light completely eliminates the filament shadowing typical of most other disposables. It also projects an intense white-blue spectrum of light considered ideal for laryngoscopy.

Bags and Packs
There were a number of new bag designs at EXPO. Stat Packs and R & B Fabrications both debuted a slew of new models, but the company that really caught my eye this year was Conterra. Its new LS Response Pack integrates basic lifesaving supplies and an AED in a slim and comfortable hydration pack. If I were a ski-patroller, this pack would be my first choice. There might be cheaper bags than Conterra’s, but you won’t find better crafted ones.

Thomas EMS also showed its popular cases, including the new Pediatric Pack. The pack organizes pediatric emergency supplies and equipment by patient weight. This system should prove a popular alternative to the Broselow System and appears a lot easier to work with in a confined space.

EMS Extras
Some of the best new products out in the exhibit hall were just novel approaches to everyday tasks, such as moving patients. As I watched several major stretcher companies compete for attention, I was reminded of how much this industry has changed. Only a few years ago, we had far fewer options to choose from.

The Monster Medic booth showed signs of notable product refinement, including one very advanced ambulance stretcher. Stryker demonstrated a broadening of its product offerings, including a new incubator transport X-frame. Ferno also brought patient handling equipment with a slew of product enhancements.

An interesting development has been made in EMS orthopedic technology with the SX 405 Fracture Response System from Minto Development. This compact kit offers a dozen new ways to use the reliable Sager Splint components. With its fixable articulating connectors, you can assemble the components to immobilize joints, limbs and even shoulders. For guys in the backwoods that need one compact fracture kit to do everything, this is it.

Photo by Dan White
The statMAP

One of the more interesting new “high-technology” products was the TraumaTec therapeutic hypothermia system. This compact device can rapidly cool the brain during a stroke or high cord injury. As we learn more about the benefits of induced brain cooling, I will be watching this company with great interest.

On the diagnostic side, I saw a radically innovative sphygmomanometer called the statMAP from CardioCommand. This hand-held semi-automatic BP monitor automatically controls deflation while using an oscillometric technique to measure blood pressure. Systolic and diastolic pressures and heart rate are displayed on a dial-type gauge. I think getting accurate vitals anywhere quickly, without always having to depend on my aging ears, will prove to be a great asset.

For disaster preparation, EMS Innovations displayed a new concept in supply deployment. The Relief Pod, from Disaster Relief Systems, is a watertight storage and deployment container for disaster supplies that can be stacked, carried or even float on water. They can also double as an emergency stretcher.

Even though attendance was down this year, the vendor area at EMS EXPO showed signs of new changes that will be sweeping our industry. Many new manufacturers, products and technologies are quickly making their way into our realm. It all results in more treatment options and increased competition — and getting the most out of your money is what many EMS agency procurement officers live for.

Those who made it to Las Vegas this year were rewarded with a stunning variety of outstanding new products, but I expect an even greater turn out next year when EXPO moves to Atlanta.

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