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Ambulance: Manual Versus machine Blood Pressures

Written by RSS Poster Medic Scribe

How do you want to be known as a Paramedic/EMT?

A. Reliable
B. Frequently wrong

According to a recent article in JEMSDitch the Machine to Improve Accuracy in Blood Pressure Measurement and Diagnostics, “automated blood pressure readings are frequently inaccurate.”

Is this a surprise to anyone?

Yet, many of us continue to relay on automated BP cuffs to direct our clinical actions.

In a March 2016 article in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, Which is More Accurate in Measuring the Blood Pressure? A Digital or an Aneroid Sphygmomanometer:, digital devices:

  1. should be used with caution, doubt and suspicion
  2. are not up to standard
  3. (can cause many people to be) wrongly or misdiagnosed
  4. may prove disastrous

Powerful words.

The JEMS article points out that even the manual for the Physio-Control Lifepack 15 contains this warning:  

“shock may result in a blood pressure waveform that has a low amplitude, making it difficult for the monitor to accurately determine the systolic and diastolic pressures.”

Got that.  Your...

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Ambulance: Balance

Written by RSS Poster Medic Scribe

December 8, 2018: This weekend, I am in Worcester, Massachusetts at the New England Short Course Meters Masters Swimming Championships as a member of the Connecticut (CONN) team. Last year, we shocked many of the other teams by taking first place. Points are awarded based on place finish in individual and relay events. Each swimmer is only allowed to swim a maximum of six events a day or 13 for the entire meet. Friday evening is distance day (800 Free), Saturday and Sunday are for the relays and the main swimming events. Last year I scored 119 points swimming 12 events despite having a pretty severe chest cold. I also swam in three of the four relays. I came in second in the men’s 55-59 200 Meter Butterfly and earned 15 points for it. I was second out of 2 swimmers. Last year I finished 25th in the nation in that event in my age group. 25 out of 25. Still I was proud as it is a difficult event, particularly for someone who did not know how to swim the stroke five years ago. I am swimming it again this year, and if all scheduled swimmers swim, I will likely...

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Ambulance: Not My Addiction

Written by RSS Poster Medic Scribe

This is great film, made by EMS for EMS, to help us understand addiction and the stories behind our patient’s lives.  The 37 minute film tells the story of four addicts in their own words, including one who was once in EMS.  Listening to these four tell their stories helps people understand how easy it is for a person to fall into the grip of opioids and how hard it is to get out.  As I mentioned in another blog post, I recenly heard a mother describe her daughter’s descent into opioids, which ended in her death, as “an innocent entry and an impossible exit.”

I met two new young people this week who were ex-addicts struggling to reclaim their lives.  One was a former army medic, who told me he became addicted in Afghanistan. His squad often found caches of heroin, hidden by villagers. It was hot there and they were always hydrating themselves with IVs.  One day they added a few grains of heroin to the IV.  Three days of this and he found himself coming down with a horrible flu.  It took awhile for him to realize he was in opioid withdrawal.  When he...

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Ambulance: Napping in EMS

Written by RSS Poster Medic Scribe

Do you nap on your EMS job?

While many EMS organizations prohibit sleeping on the job and others allow it only in designated areas, a safety panel empowered by the National Association of State EMS Officials recently issued recommendations that included encouraging napping as a way to mitigate the adverse effects of fatigue.

Recommendation 4: Recommend that EMS personnel have the opportunity to nap while on duty to mitigate fatigue.

The panel determined that current evidence supports the use of naps while on duty as an effective strategy to positively impact fatigue-related outcomes. Naps improve alertness, reduce sleepiness, and improve personnel performance (e.g., reaction time).

I recently posted about a picture put up on our employees only Facebook site where a crew was blasted for being photographed while sitting in their ambulance, the driver with eyes closed, and the passenger slouching in his seat.  I found some links to fatigue on the job, but did not get around to reading them in their entirety until later. I was surprised and pleased to...

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Ambulance: Down Time

Written by RSS Poster Medic Scribe

A few days ago on our employees only Facebook page, someone posted a picture another person had taken of one of our crews while they were parked by the side of a street. The driver leaned against the window, arms folded, eyes closed.  The passenger had his eyes open, but he was slouched down in his seat. They were clearly in rest mode, but it wasn’t like they needed Narcan.  The comment was if they wanted to sleep, they should find a more secluded spot than a downtown street. The concern was every crew represents all of EMS, and the poster thought this crew looked unprofessional.

A fair point, perhaps, but I admit I felt bad for the crew to be shamed by a few fellow employees (the comments mainly agreed with the poster).  There are few days I have worked when either myself or my partner have not been guilty of shutting our eyes at some point in the shift. I can’t say there hasn’t been snoring at times. (Most in EMS work either mega-overtime or multiple jobs in addition to trying to raise families and fatigue in EMS has been well-documented in the...

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Ambulance: Opioid Crisis National Roadmap- EMS Comment

Written by RSS Poster Medic Scribe

EMS Encouraged to Comment on Opioid Crisis National Roadmap

These are my comments on the draft report developed by the Fast Track Action Committee (FTAC) on Health Science and Technology Response to the Opioid Crisis.

People who have suffered a nonfatal overdose are at the high risk of suffering a fatal overdose. A recent study out of Massachusetts suggested that one out of ten of these patients will die of an overdose within a year.(1) Since EMS has contact with these patients at a pivotal time in their live, EMS has an opportunity for intervention either through educating them (and their families)to rehab options or where to obtain naloxone and clean needles for those who are not ready to quit. Some EMS services even leave naloxone with users and their families.
The manner in which EMS treats these patients is also critically important. If EMS treats them as people who are suffering from a chronic disease as opposed to people with character flaws, then they can help reduce the stigma that any opioid users face that can...

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Ambulance: Beautiful Boy

Written by RSS Poster Medic Scribe

In the movies, the hero kills the monster after an exciting and lengthy battle. Then just as the winning team congratulates themselves on their great victory and now bright future, the monster raises its head again. It was not really dead! After a brief but tense battle, in which the hero almost dies, the final sword is plunged in the monster’s heart. The movie is over. The credits roll. Hooray. Peace on Earth. A predictable formula.

There is a new movie out about addiction. Beautiful Boy stars Steve Carrell, the comedian of The Office fame, who has made quite a number of excellent serious movies. The movie is based on the book Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff about dealing with his son Nic’s addiction.

Nic is wonderful child, who suddenly turns into a crystal meth addict. It seems suddenly to the father, but it is a little more gradual. Unbeknownst to Dad, the boy starts smoking pot at 13. It makes him feel fantastic. He has some underlying and undiagnosed mental health—he’s bi-polar– issues that the...

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Ambulance: Cocaine with Fentanyl

Written by RSS Poster Medic Scribe

(Image from InspireMalibu)

When they can’t get a hold of their local dealer, the two young men come in to Hartford from the suburbs to buy cocaine. Bart boasted to a younger friend Milton that he could get any drug he wanted on Park Street. “Well, let’s do it,” Milton said.

It is true that Bart knows where to buy drugs.  What he hasn’t told Milton is that when he used to do heroin, he met a friend named Mark who would do the buying for him. And since he got out of rehab, he has only been using percocet.  He doesn’t inject anymore because his veins are hard to find because of his chubby arms.  Only Mark could hit his veins and Mark has been no where to be found, which is a good thing as Bart can handle the Percocets better than he could heroin. Bart has also never purchased cocaine in Hartford, though he knows the same guys who sell heroin have coke. Bart sticks with his boast.  “Sure, let’s do it.”

They park Milton’s car on Zion Street. They get out and start toward Park. “You sure, you know what you’re doing?” Milton...

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Ambulance: Plateau

Written by RSS Poster Medic Scribe

Plateau -(noun) “ a usually extensive land area having a relatively level surface raised sharply above adjacent land on at least one side.

Plateau-(verb)- to reach a level, period, or condition of stability or maximum attainment

Merriam-Webster

***

The United States Health Secretary announced recently that the opioid overdoses deaths appear to be plateauing across the country.  While some states have seen a decrease and others an increase, the overall numbers appear to have slowed after a parabolic rise.

Opioid Deaths May Be Starting To Plateau, HHS Chief Says

The credit can go to harm reduction programs, public health and safety efforts and community organizations who have worked hard toward solutions.

Good news certainly, but not cause to disarm.  The death numbers, even if they plateau are staggering.  70,000 deaths in 2017. Many young people who would otherwise have many years of life, family and contributions to society left had they not been ensnared in this terrible epidemic.

Ensnare is another word for the day.

Here are some synonyms (also from...

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Ambulance: Unforgiven

Written by RSS Poster Medic Scribe

He is walking down a side street off Park when he freezes in place. He sees the slow moving black Toyota blink its lights, then he sees the station wagon. Before he can take a step to flee, he sees the barrel come out of the back window. He feels the impact against his shin and another in the hip. He dives behind the bus stop shelter as more bullets splat against the wall of the boarded up store behind him.   He scrambles up and runs into the street. He takes the orange he has in his pocket and heaves it at the car. Then he holds up a double barreled middle finger. “Fuck you! “ He shouts. “Your product sucks!”

“Five times I’ve been ambushed this week,” he explains to me that afternoon. “He hit me eight times. Hurts like a mother. Look at me, I’m covered in paint. He uses a different car for his shooters every time.  He flicks his lights to give them the signal, the bastard.”

Mickey is a homeless addict who is a fixture on Park Street. He is short and wirey and missing most of his teeth. Every six months he disappears for awhile, going...

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Latest Medic Scribe Stories

Manual Versus machine Blood Pressures
Balance
Not My Addiction
Napping in EMS
Down Time

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