Paramedics from Magen David Adom (MDA) will start using ultrasound to improve their emergency treatment of patients suffering cardiac arrest.
It will provide a clearer picture of heart function than an ECG (electrocardiogram), and rapidly locate veins for administering IV fluids and lifesaving drugs.
The ultrasound can also detect a heartbeat even when there’s no palpable pulse.
The ultrasound technology, normally used only in emergency departments or clinical settings, will be available in MDA’s mobile intensive care unit ambulances and its two Medevac helicopters from this summer.
It will be used primarily to view the hearts of patients in suspected cardiac arrest or deep shock, and to help paramedics establish IV lines in patients with hard-to-detect veins.
“Being able to actually see a patient’s heart function through an ultrasound probe, rather than merely observe the heart’s electrical impulses through an ECG provides us with a clearer picture of his condition and enables us to make better informed and potentially lifesaving medical decisions,” said Dr. Refael Strugo, medical director for MDA.
MDA, Israel’s national emergency medical service, has over 30,000 medical professionals and volunteers, and responded to nearly 700,000 emergency calls last year.
Using the ultrasound equipment could also prove to be a game-changer for treating a critical cardiac condition known as pseudo PEA (pulseless electrical activity) in which the patient has no palpable pulse, but ultrasound reveals the presence of ventricular contractility, the semblance of a heartbeat.
With additional training, MDA paramedics will eventually also be using the ultrasound to detect other conditions, such as tension pneumothorax, in which the patient’s lungs leech air into the chest cavity, a potentially fatal condition that can prevent the patient from breathing.