The voting members of the Cache County Emergency Medical Services (CCEMS) Authority oversight board knew that the cardiac defibrillators in use in Cache County were aging and needed replacement as soon as the money could be found. What they didn’t realize is that, once they found the funding to purchase the 14 new cardiac monitors/defibrillators at a total cost of $234,788, that one of them would make the difference in saving a life just three hours after being placed into service. That happened yesterday, Tuesday, January 5, 2009, when firefighters from the Logan City Fire Department, responding as part of the CCEMS Authority response team, arrived on the scene of a medical emergency in downtown Logan to find a 31-year-old male patient with ineffective breathing and in a form of cardiac arrest known as ventricular fibrillation. A bystander had initiated what the paramedics described as “effective CPR” before the fire department arrived. According to Logan City Fire Chief Mark Meaker, the paramedics used virtually every one of the new cardiac monitor/defibrillator’s advanced features. The result is that they were able to successfully convert the patient’s heart rhythm back into a life sustaining pattern. “They used everything the monitor had to offer,” Meaker explained, “including the ‘end title’ carbon dioxide sensor, the pulse oximeter, automatic blood pressure sensor, the external cardiac pacing and the defibrillator patches.” Meaker explained that the carbon dioxide sensor allowed paramedics to confirm the patient had been successfully intubated into the lungs and not the stomach by accident. The pulse oximeter measured the oxygen levels reaching the cells via the vascular system and the blood pressure sensor verified the re-establishment of effective blood pressure after the patient was shocked a total of three times, the chief said. The external cardiac pacing capability was also deployed. Meaker quoted the on-scene paramedics as crediting the advanced capabilities of the new cardiac monitor as working synergistically to improve the overall chances for the patient’s survival. “This patient’s survival is the result of the combination of effective bystander CPR, extremely well-trained and experienced paramedics and medical technicians, and the provision of the latest available cardiac technology by the CCEMS Authority,” Meaker said. “It is clear the patient would not have survived to make it out of the emergency room alive without all of those factors in place.” The patient has been transferred to McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden where he remains in critical, but stable condition. The cardiac monitors were part of a nearly $900,000 re-capitalization program authorized by the Cache County EMS Authority on behalf of Cache County and Logan City just this past fall. The plan replaces three older ambulances of the authority’s eight vehicle fleet with brand new medium duty apparatus, all 14 of the authority’s cardiac monitors/defibrillators, and upgrades the ambulance cots to power lift gurneys that reduce the likelihood of medic back injuries. The CCEMS Authority has entered its fifth year of operation as a countywide ambulance entity with both Logan City and Cache County renewing the inter-local agreement recently for another four years. According to Meaker, response time data confirmed the operational success of the CCEMS authority early in the first four year term. However, it has only been within the last year or two that the authority’s ambulance revenue has improved to the point where the system could begin replacing its aging capital assets such as ambulances, cardiac monitors, and gurneys. Meaker said he hoped this successful first deployment of the authority’s new resources will reinforce for the public and the oversight board members the wisdom of investing adequately in the necessary staffing, training and equipment.
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