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Ambulances using nitrous oxide to ease patients’ pain

Nitrous oxide equipment has been sold to EMS agencies in at least 30 states in the last three years


By EMS1 Staff

STOWE, Vt. — Nitrous oxide is making a comeback in ambulances in rural areas to ease patients’ anxiety and pain.

Associated Press reported that the laughing gas normally used in dentist’s offices and hospitals is commonly used in European and Australian ambulances. Over the past three years, it has been sold to EMS agencies in at least 30 states.

"For someone to be in pain for that extended period of time, you know we want to try to ease that," Stowe EMS Chief Scott Brinkman said.

An advantage of using nitrous oxide is that it’s not an opioid. Some patients either don’t want opioids or they simply don’t need such a strong drug.

For example, Brinkman said a woman recently dislocated her shoulder and requested she not be given narcotics because she was a recovering addict.

Nitrous oxide is delivered through a breathing mask or tube the patient can use to regulate how much they are receiving.

"It's fast-acting and it wears off," EMT and Twin Mountain (N.H.) Fire Chief Jeremy Oleson said.

 

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