Valley Paramedics Offering Life-Saving Treatment to Patients with Cardiac Arrest
By Mel Fabrikant Wednesday, April 22, 2009, 11:08 AM EDT
Paramedics with The Valley Hospital’s Mobile Intensive Care Units (MICU) are the first in New Jersey to bring the latest life-saving emergency intervention to the scene of victims of sudden cardiac arrest. The technique -- therapeutic hypothermia – has been shown to be effective in preventing brain damage in patients after cardiac arrest.
Endorsed by the American Heart Association, therapeutic hypothermia protects patients’ brains from damage by quickly dropping their body temperature. Cooling the patient reduces the brain’s need for oxygen, which can increase the chance of survival and decrease the risk of brain damage that typically occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted after cardiac arrest.
The therapy uses a combination of external and internal cooling with ice packs and chilled intravenous saline infusions. Previously this therapy was induced when the patient arrived at The Valley Hospital. But research indicates that the sooner therapeutic hypothermia is begun, the better the patient’s chances of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest and retaining normal brain function.
“We’ve been providing therapeutic hypothermia at Valley since the middle of last year, and as the benefits became clear, it seemed a logical step to offer it even before patients reach the hospital,” said Marc Dreier, M.D., Medical Director of Valley’s Mobile Intensive Care Units. “This is but one example of Valley paramedics’ commitment to bringing the most advanced pre-hospital care to the community.”
Therapeutic hypothermia is considered so effective that earlier this year New York City announced that the city’s emergency medical services will only take patients who have been resuscitated after cardiac arrest to an emergency department trained and equipped to perform the procedure.
“Therapeutic hypothermia has proven to have tremendous benefits for sudden cardiac arrest patients, dramatically improving the chances for full recovery, and limiting neurological damage and other health-related complications. Immediate in-the-field cooling techniques implemented by paramedics, coupled with more advanced post-resuscitation care at Valley Hospital, will provide patients with state-of-the-art treatment that will save lives and improve the quality of life,” said Chris Chiames, executive director of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association.
The Valley Hospital’s Mobile Intensive Care Units (MICUs) serve as “emergency rooms on wheels.” The MICU program consists of highly trained mobile intensive care paramedics and nurses providing advanced life support under the direct medical control of Valley Emergency Department physicians. The MICU program utilizes the latest technologies to extend the reach of critical care services from the hospital to the field.
The Valley Hospital Mobile Intensive Care Unit has provided services 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week to our community since 1983. Valley’s highly skilled paramedics bring a unique blend of technology, professional expertise, human care and concern directly to the scene of accidents and medical emergencies. The Valley Hospital’s MICU provides the latest in advanced pre-hospital care and was one of the first in the State of New Jersey to implement progressive paramedic procedures such as Rapid Sequence Intubation, including paralytics (RSI) and Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). The program’s philosophy is to provide the community with the best healthcare possible.
Caption: Shown here are the Paramedics with The Valley Hospital’s Mobile Intensive Care Units