HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - We are covering your community and learning about some advances within the Harvest Volunteer Fire-Rescue department.
This year, Alabama updated its EMT protocols and provided new blind insertion airway devices to departments across the state.
The devices, also called I-gels, are geared specifically for cardiac arrest patients. The ultimate goal is to quickly secure a person’s airway with no interruptions to CPR compressions.
Harvest Volunteer Fire-Rescue is the first fire department in Madison County to use the device.
“We have successfully used four of them on cardiac arrest patients,” said EMS Captain Martha Mathis.
Traditionally, EMS responders use an oral airway device, which is a plastic tool that slides into a person’s mouth and keeps the base of the tongue back.
Now, first responders can secure the airway much faster.
“The I-gel is a supraglottic airway device,” Mathis said. “So what that means is you can just slide the device in… it’s going to keep any secretions from the stomach from coming up and it allows us to better ventilate the patients.”
Mathis demonstrates how a first responder would first lubricate the device and then use a head tilt-chin lift method to get it inside the patient’s mouth.
Once the device is secured, responders would apply a bag valve mask and ventilate.
“So this device can be put in in about 10 to 15 seconds where traditional intubation can take up to 30 seconds or a minute," Mathis said.
The device is removed just as easily.
Departments in other states are also using the new airway devices, and Mathis anticipates more departments across North AL will start training with it too.