How to buy EMS airway management products

Choosing the most appropriate airway management tools for your service should be guided by these important considerations

At every level — medical first responder, EMT, and paramedic — patient assessment and care begins with airway management. More than ever EMS professionals can choose from a wide variety of airway adjuncts for visualized and non-visualized insertion. Choosing the most appropriate airway management tools for your service should be guided by these important considerations.

1. Before purchasing any airway management tool make sure it is in your state's scope of practice for the level of licensure you intend to use it.

2. Unless an airway management device is clearly authorized for use in patient care protocols use will be rare and controversial within your service. Work with your medical director and training director to integrate new airway management products into existing or new protocols.

3. Before purchasing any new equipment make sure processes are in place to monitor correct use of that equipment by field personnel and the impact on patients. It may make sense to pilot test new airway management equipment before service wide implementation.

4. If the new airway management device fails to perform as intended or is used improperly field personnel need to be prepared to correctly use alternatives. One type of airway device will not handle every situation.

5. Examine research, while understanding the limitations, of any airway management tool. Discuss the applicability of the research findings with your medical director and quality assurance committee.

6. In addition to an initial training process, make sure refresher training and or skills competency assessment is in place before introducing new airway management tools to help field personnel keep their skills current.

7. Examine the cost of inventory required to initially deploy the airway management tool and the ongoing costs to maintain a stock within manufacturer expiration dates.

8. Finally, review the applicability of any airway management tool to a wide range of patients. A tool that is only applicable to a narrow range of patients should have a high impact on those patients to be worth the inventory and training expenses associated with the tool.

What airway management tools are working best for you and your service? What other considerations would you add to this list? Leave a comment below or email with your feedback.

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