NC county EMS adds video-guided intubation tool to ambulances
The instrument allows medics to insert a tube into a patient's lungs using a special blade with a camera attached to it.
The Star, Shelby, N.C.
CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. — Local paramedics will soon have new tools in their arsenal to help patients.
Airtraq is a new piece of equipment Cleveland County EMS personnel will be using come Aug. 1. This instrument allows medics to insert a tube into a patient's lungs using a special blade with a camera attached to it.
"Those tubes are used in urgent situations. This lets us safely put an airway in," said EMS Director Ryan Wilmoth.
This past month, Cleveland County EMS has trained medics to use this device that will help them intubate a patient quicker and in a more accurate manner.
The shape of the device allows for the instrument and a tube to be inserted into a person's mouth, the tube can then be pushed past the vocal cords and secured in place to provide air. The camera gives the paramedic an up-close view of what they are doing.
"It really helps to make sure the tube is in place," Wilmoth said.
Randal Lockhart joined the department just a week ago, but comes from Gaston County where the device has been in use for a year.
"It can turn a difficult intubation easy," Lockhart said.
Those trying the Airtraq commented on how easy it would be to get a tube into someone who may be in a difficult to reach position, especially during wrecks.
In years past, to intubate someone paramedics would have to stabilize them to the point where they could have a somewhat clear view of the airway. Next, they needed to move the tongue aside with a metal blade and try to find the correct angle to insert a tube using the naked eye.
"Usually, we would have to lie on the ground to be able to see," said 10-year veteran of CCEMS Sarah McPherson.
The camera and the shape of the Airtraq allowed many of the paramedics to intubate the practice dummies in a matter of moments.
Using previous methods takes a lot of force to push aside even a practice dummy's tongue and to line up the tube just right. For someone just learning, it takes several minutes to find the correct path.
Airtraq also allows for snapshots and video of the procedure to be taken, said EMS training director Sammy Davis. These will help in patient aftercare at a hospital and also provide training material for future paramedics.
Each of the 12 ambulances with the county will be equipped with this $800 piece of equipment.
Davis believes this will help both paramedics and patients alike.
"Our ultimate goal is to give the best patient care we can," he said.
©2019 The Star (Shelby, N.C.)