DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) - HEMSI paramedics are undergoing special training this week at Calhoun Community College. It's part of a pilot project and Huntsville is one of the first groups in the state to see this new life-saving technology put into practice.
Paramedics are trained to stabilize a patient, when possible, before attempting to move them to the hospital. Often that effort involves administering fluids and medicines, commonly done by establishing an IV, which is not an easy task on the side of a roadway at night or in a moving ambulance. But HEMSI paramedics are learning a new and more efficient method. It involves inserting a special needle into the shoulder bone, which actually rushes the life-saving medicines throughout the body.
"So we have a device, it's called the Easy IO. It's a drill-driven device with a patented cutting needle that allows you to access the circulation within six seconds," according to Emergency Medical Physician Dr. Jullette Saussy, MD.
The medicine or fluids are then pumped in through the bone marrow and immediately into the circulatory system. It means multiple sticks to try to establish an IV, dealing with collapsed veins, or even having to work around massive trauma are a thing of the past.
John Howell, HEMSI's CEO, says, "We think this new procedure is going to be extremely helpful and is probably going to contribute to saving lives in our community."
The Medical Education and Research Institute of Memphis provided cadavers for the paramedics to train on, which in and of itself is unprecedented. But if this pilot project is successful, it will become the model program for many others across the state.
"It should increase the level of care that we can provide, even further than what we can provide right now," says Dea Calce, a HEMSI paramedic who underwent the training on Tuesday.
A total of 80 HEMSI paramedics are participating in the training session.
The VidaCare/Teleflex Corporation is making this pilot program and training available for HEMSI's paramedics. The company produces and has distributed more than two million of the EZ-IO devices, including thousands that are used by the military in combat situations.
Editor's Note: After our story aired, we learned Cullman EMS had gone through this same training a year ago, and is successfully using the procedure. A spokesperson for VidaCare/Teleflex tells us HEMSI is believed to be the first emergency medical service in Alabama to train with the device using cadavers.