Tag Archives: Emergency Medical Training

How have we gotten here?

DWK Fraser, CD, BA, PCP @DWKF
Views are my own, and do not represent my employers in any way.

65% of US States lacked specific guidelines on how and when to use a tourniquet!

Blow Out Kit for HemCon

Blow Out Kit for HemCon

After almost a decade and a half of continuous warfare, after achieving the best trauma outcomes in the history of medicine, after the formation of both the Committee for Tactical Emergency Casualty Care  and the Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care, even when the most recent best practices are available free online, we still can’t come up with a coherent extremity hemorrhage control strategy!

Ladies and gentlemen, the evidence is there, most of the tools are there, and the techniques are well developed;  There is no longer any excuse for any patient in prehospital care to die from exsanguinating extremity hemorrhage.

Know how to use a tourniquet! Put them on your ambulances, on your belt, in your pockets.  Have a primary, an alternate, a contingency, and know how to make a emergency tourniquet one.

See our post here for the evidence supporting their use.

 

More on public access hemorrhage control

DWK Fraser, CD, BA, PCP @DWKF
Views are my own, and do not represent my employers in any way.

There is ample evidence that tourniquets work in controlling hemorrhage from extremities, and now various public bodies, including the White House, are adding their voices to a push for public access hemorrhage control:

“…make tourniquets as commonplace as heart defibrillators in U.S. schools, stadiums, airports, malls and other public places, to reduce fatalities from mass shootings and terror bombings.”

Department of Homeland Security and NAEMT have all added their voices to the call for public access hemcon and public training in hemcon techniques.

If you don’t know how to use a tourniquet, if you can’t apply one to yourself quickly, efficiently, and effectively, you are exposed to an easily controlled risk.  It’s not just hybrid targeted violence of the sort we’ve seen in Paris, Mali, Kenya, London, Madrid, but any exposure to a traumatic injury that warrants no-fail hemorrhage control measures!

Rescue Task Force Skill. Tourniquets: Where the science stands

DWK Fraser, CD, BA, PCP @DWKF
Views are my own, and do not represent my employers in any way.

If you asked any researcher to name some prehospital interventions that truly proved their worth during the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan they would, almost universally, include  tourniquets and TXA on their list.  Yet there is still, despite a huge volume of well documented research, widespread resistance and misinformation  about these two interventions.

During an EMA Licensing Exam I recently watched someone take a tourniquet off a complete amputation.   He looked at his watch, said “Ten minutes, time to loosen the tourniquet”, and proceeded to remove it from his patient.  Looking at me he asked “Is it bleeding again?” “Of course it’s bleeding again!” was my reply.

I looked at his instructor, and I was floored.  This is what the first aid groups are teaching people about tourniquets? Something very important has been lost in the knowledge translation.

Here are several published studies which look at tourniquet use in the modern context.

The first one we’ll look at was conducted at a US Army Combat Support Hospital (CSH) outside Baghdad over a 7 month period in 2006.  232 patients had 428 tourniquets applied on 309 injured limbs.  194 patients had tourniquets applied in the prehospital setting.  The remainder had them applied in the CSH.  “The 5 casualties indicated for tourniquets but had none used had a survival rate of 0% versus 87% for those casualties with tourniquets used.” The most common complication (less than 2% of patient) suffered a transient nerve palsy. Let me say that again.  Less than 2% of patients had complications, and the most common one was that their limb hurt or felt funny from the tourniquet compressing a nerve. And it went away.  There were no amputations associated with tourniquet use in this study.  

While this study isn’t without some problems, most glaringly the use of the quality & presence or absence of a radial pulse as the determinant of shock, it is very noteworthy that early tourniquet placement was associated with a better outcome and such a low complication rate makes it THE prehospital intervention for hemorrhage that can be tourniqueted.

LEO Applied TK

Law Enforcement Applied Tk to upper extremity due to arterial bleeding post stabbing. This required an additional full rotation of torsion bar to achieve hemorrhage control by EMS

The second is a follow up to the first, and when we add another 267 patients we get virtually identical data: an overall 87% survival rate, higher in those who received tourniquets early and lower in those who didn’t receive one at all or until the CSH, with a <2% complication rate and no amputations.

This is not to say that any intervention is without risk.  The use of improvised tourniquets and prolonged application times are associated with worse outcomes, and there are some documented cases, with improvised tourniquets, that DID result in amputations after long (17 hour) application.

It is critical that medical providers train with their tourniquet of choice under all potential conditions.  Application effectiveness does not improve under real world conditions! Lower extremity application continues to have the highest failure rate, likely due to the higher occlusion pressures needed (300mmHg!).

The inherent efficacy of tourniquet products contributes to high failure rates under combat conditions, pointing to the need for superior tourniquets and for rigorous deployment preparation training

What is the objective to loosening a tourniquet? To prevent loss of limb? To decrease complications like transient nerve palsies?  If those are your objectives, relax, the tourniquets have this one. Put it on, and don’t take it off.  We’ve got the EMS evidence to back this up.

Far from the front: the role of trauma systems in IED/Active Shooter Events

HMMVW Amb on the flight line, KAFWith the recent release of the US DHS Guidance for IED and Active Shooter document, we’re taking a look at some of the key concepts within that document.  This week we’re looking at the Trauma Systems roles in preparing for and responding to these events.

To some extent we are lucky.  We’re lucky because there are probably few tertiary care trauma centers that don’t have a veteran of Afghanistan or Iraq on their surgical, ICU or resuscitation service.  Experience counts, and team leadership is essential in MCI, no matter where they happen. Many hospitals have regular MCI drills, and at the facility level it really doesn’t matter what the incident is.  Plane crash? Bus Crash? IED? Unless you move the MCI to the hospital during transport, or the incident targets a health care facility, MCI in hospitals (should be) are very different from the chaos of responding to the incident scene.

“EMS must rapidly and accurately triage casualties at the incident site and expeditiously transport those identified for “immediate care” into an appropriate hospital setting.”

All facilities, not just those designated trauma receiving facilities, need to be ready for an influx of patients.  Experience shows that in major events many casualties self-report to the nearest treatment facility if they are capable of doing so.  These facilities need to have triage systems in place and EMS needs to stage transport units at these facilities to effect secondary transport.  In a major event, secondary transport may include out of region and even out of province transfers.  We need to keep in mind that our health care system is currently operating with a very limited surge capacity.

Damage control resuscitation and surgery (DCR/DCS) is the name of the game.  Prevent hypothermia, treat with blood products not salt water, and stop ongoing hemorrhage.

DCR is based on the balanced administration of thawed plasma, pRBCs, and platelets in severely injured patients instead of solutions such as normal saline and lactated ringers.9 10 11 12 DCR also includes avoidance of hypothermia and pursuit of other measures to maximize oxygenation and reduce injurious factors in the blast-injured patient.

However, all the surgeons in all the OR’s aren’t much help if you can’t get the patient to them in the right sequence.  Triage is one of the most critical elements of any MCI response, and MCI triage is not what you’ve experienced in the Emergency Room during a normal visit.  Triage also can’t happen once.  Triage should happen at each stage of evacuation, again on arrival at the hospital, and again among the priority patients for surgical priority.

Behind the scenes of any surgery are the hidden experts, radiology, lab techs, blood bank, and all the others without whom a modern OR can’t function, and they each have a job to do. This job will take a finite amount of time, and have a finite amount of stores on hand.

One area where significant efficiencies can be found is the role of the blood bank in trauma resuscitation, particularly development and implementation of Massive Transfusion (MT) Protocols.  Fascinating research in MT is ongoing, and developments like rotational thromboelastometry (ROTEM) are offering exciting developments

Any patient who may require MT should have already received TXA, preferably during tactical field care or casevac care. Despite best efforts, none of the prehospital blood replacements (or even Normal Saline for that matter!) show much benefit in hemorrhagic shock.  With that in mind, resuscitation with blood products is the gold standard.  Everything infused should be warm, it should be under pressure, and it should either help promote clotting or carry oxygen.

And let’s not forget that when these patients come out of resus and are off to the OR or ICU there is a finite amount of resources available for them even if they’ve made it this far.  We know that care of the traumatized patient is a long-term problem that will persist long after the event.

Trauma bays fullThe provider on scene is only the tip of what must be a vast concerted effort of allied health care providers working together towards a common goal:  Best care for the patients under less than ideal circumstances.

 

 

 

For more on Boston listen to this BBC Broadcast

To see what the New Yorker had to say about the hospital response to the Boston Marathon Bombing 

To learn more about Damage Control Surgery we recommend this #SMACC presentation.

“Non-traditional EMS and Fire roles”: A look at the Rescue Task Force concept

With the recent release of the US DHS Guidance for IED and Active Shooter document, we’re taking a look at some of the key concepts within that document.  This week we’re looking at the concept of the Rescue Task Force, a specialized team trained and equipped to operate within the warm, sometimes hot, zones of these high-risk unstable incidents.  

 

Last weeks link

When we talk about traditional EMS and Fire Department tasks at a major incident we are talking about the day to day activities. EMS has the job of triaging, caring for, the treatment and transport of the injured from the point of injury to different levels of care.  Fire’s job is risk mitigation, hazard containment, and access and extrication.  Law enforcement is usually there in a support and advise role during non-criminal/ terrorism  events.

In a IED/Dynamic Threat environment guess who’s in charge? Law enforcement.  Guess who’s doing the threat mitigation and hazard containment? Law enforcement.  Guess who’s getting other agencies in and out safely? Law enforcement.

Everyone becomes subordinate to the police.  They have a play book (IRD) to follow, and paramedics and firefighters rushing in and complicating things isn’t part of it.

These incidents may, but not necessarily will, result in mass casualties. Their very nature and the incredibly high risk requires that we respond prepared for significant numbers of casualties with significant injuries.  Some jurisdictions have developed the Rescue Task Force, a (sometimes) multi-agency team that is trained and equipped to operate within the operational warm zone.

Treatment by these RTF’s should be limited.  TECC and TCCC guidelines should be followed to maximize survival. Skills like wound packing, IO initiation, pelvic binding and needle decompression should be second nature for all members.  They need to be expert in the direct and indirect threat care phases of TECC, especially skilled in the art of triage.

“First responders should incorporate tourniquets and hemostatic agents as part of treatment for severe bleeding…First responders should adopt, develop training for, and operationalize the evidence-based guidelines of TECC. Training should be conducted in conjunction with EMS, fire, law enforcement, and medical community personnel to improve interoperability during IED and/or active shooter events.”

TECC 1dDuring almost any MCI debrief, two obstacles to patient care come up.  Communication and patient transport.  Communications is a systemic problem, and an ongoing one at that. The implementation of tac channels for some agencies has helped, but encrypted digital all-agency systems are still problematic (See CREST in Victoria).

Moving patients is hard.  Very hard.  In the absence of modern patient transporters it is even harder.  Add broken ground, terrain features or obstacles, constrained evacuation routes and it will quickly become one of the most labour intensive tasks for EMS and Fire. Teams must be familiar with all patient transport devices, and often underutilized tools like the Ferno Manta Mat and KED find a niche.

“First responders should develop inter-domain (EMS, fire, and law enforcement) TTPs—including use of ballistic vests, better situational awareness, and application of concealment and cover concepts— and train first responders on proper use of the TTPs.”

The RTF’s need to be properly equipped to operate within the warm zone, with protective equipment including helmets, CBRNE equipment, level IV vests, (and perhaps current generation NVG).  They need to train in and practice tactical awareness on scene, utilizing cover and concealment, remaining alert to the potential for both direct or IED attack during rescue operations. These aren’t pieces of equipment that you handle once and then hang up at the station. They need to become so familiar to the members that they operate fluidly and unhindered by them. These TTPs need regular thorough rehearsal between all agencies, using the same language, on the same radio frequencies.

Deploying in small (4-5 person) teams, RTF are comprised usually of a designated security element and a designated treatment element. Medics move forward into warm or even hot zones under direct cover of police to perform limited casualty care as far forward as possible and initiate evacuation out of the danger zone to more definitive care away from the scene.

“Rendering life-saving care in warm zones (by EMS, fire, and/or law enforcement) is a relatively new paradigm that is supported by data. Historically, when EMS and fire personnel waited up to several hours before being permitted to enter scenes and render life-saving care, very few critical victims survived. The passage of that time resulted in the likely preventable loss of life for victims.”

TECC recognized educational content

 Link to the full DHS Report

Tac Technique Tuesday!

We’ve recently looked at wound packing as one of the more effective methods to control hemorrhage.  This week let’s look at surgical crichoidthyrotomy as an airway option in tactical environments.

Surgical airways are recommended by both C-TECC and CoTCCC relatively early in the airway management flowchart, below NPA and positioning and above placement of an ET tube.  Unlike the civilian setting where equipment is readily available and one monitor/patient is the norm, the Tactical Field Care (TCCC) and Indirect Threat Care (TECC) phase recommendations recognize that time and equipment constraints may not allow us to use tools like ETCO2 waveform capnography to confirm tube placement, or even Direct Laryngoscopy or Video Laryngoscopy to place a tube.  In those settings, a scalpel-bougie crich may be your best bet for definitive tactical airway management.Crich

Watch this video of Dr Dennis Kim demonstrating a very deliberate surgical method on a cadaver, and think about doing this in a dust-storm in Iraq (or a blizzard in the BC Alpine), or in the pitch black with IR illumination and NVG’s while balancing the equipment on the cleanest surface you can find, your jumpkit or your lap.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kg14kdIycDE

If they are done quickly and smoothly out of prepared stripped-down kits they are significantly easier and safer than ETT placement.  There is no technology to depend upon.  No Laryngoscope, no waveform capnography to confirm placement.

Equipment is simple: A scalpel, a bougie, and a cut down #6 ETT with 10 ml syringe attached.

If necessary, make a vertical incision to mark your midline.  Cut the skin laterally across the neck to expose the crichoid membrane.  Pierce the membrane, extend the incision and do not remove the scalpel.  Insert the bougie over top of the scalpel blade into the tracheal lumen. Remove the scalpel and pass the tube over the bougie.

The technique starts at 2:30 in this video!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BT7KsQN6ANc

If you compare the two techniques, you’ll see that the scalpel-bougie Crich is the easier, safer method.  By keeping the surgical tract open continuously, via scalpel, then bougie, then tube, there is a major reduction in the chance of losing the tract.  Losing the tract in the dark, in the dust, in the snow, isn’t an option. This is your last ditch airway procedure.  It must work!

 

One Step Closer to our Tactical Emergency Casualty Care Course

For the past several days I’ve been working the phone lines and email tree trying to nail down a venue for our next course offering, and I think we’ve found it.  I’ll be stopping by tomorrow to ensure that it meets our needs and is cost effective for our clientele.

Our Tactical Emergency Casualty Care Course is open to paramedics, law enforcement, and Canadian Armed Forces members.  TCCC and TECC teach the same material, but to different target audiences, in a slightly different format.  While sending the 9-Liner CasEvacReq is an essential skill for a deployed soldier, there isn’t much need to teach it to a street level paramedic or police member.

What each of them does have to know is how to handle themselves if they’re injured; how to apply a tourniquet to themselves, their patient, or their partner quickly and efficiently and get back to the job at hand.  How to control hemorrhage with wound packing, direct pressure, and with a variety of bandages.  How to place an airway, on the floor, in the dark, by touch. How to move someone by themselves over smooth terrain, over rough terrain.

Tomorrow, at 1300, I find out if we’ve got our venue!

Tactical & Medical Decision Making

Not all tactical tools are tangible, some are cognitive.

This runs to 20 pages including bibliography, but it describes several essential skills that any emergency medical provider needs to have.

The OODA loop is something that we use in the classroom in order to give students a model of constant reevaluation of the patient condition, the conditions they’re operating under, the courses of action open to them, and the most efficient treatment, movement, or evac options.

To truly master Emergency Medicine, much less the tactical environment, you need to understand the OODA Loop. Yours should be tight and fast. But sometimes you need a far quicker response, and only training and simulation can build instant RPD through what this author calls tactical decision games (TDG) or decision making exercises (DME).

This is the core of current EMS education.

Simulation creates an experiential learning environment where the students can develop that mental database of Action : Response for everything from snoring respiration : jaw thrust or massive extremity bleed : tourniquet intuitively, not just academically. Where they can find themselves suddenly on the ground applying a tourniquet to their own leg intuitively knowing that placing the tourniquet chasis This way instead of that way will give them a better initial pull on the strap.  The same repetition that has someone doing a tap, rack, and engage on one stoppage but a reload just from the feel of the recoil.  That’s recognition primed decision making.

Klein says “…Their experience let them identify a reasonable reaction as the first one they
considered, so they did not bother thinking of others. They were not being perverse. They
were being skillful. We now call this strategy recognition-primed decision making.”2

Sometimes the best care isn’t enough

Tonight, the RCMP announced that Cst David Wynn is unlikely to survive the GSW head injury he suffered yesterday morning in a Edmonton area casino. He’s in an Edmonton hospital receiving the best possible care, but sometimes, far too often, that isn’t enough.

The results of a gun shot wound to the brain are devastating.  Tonight we’re thinking of the families of Cst Wynn, both natural and regimental. We’re praying for the speedy and complete recovery of Aux Cst Bond (unarmed at the time of the shooting, being an Auxiliary), who suffered a grievous limb injury and faces a long difficult recovery ahead of himself.

We have seen one bloody police shooting after another in this country.  We have buried far too many Canadians in red serge and navy blue.

It is time Canada’s police services have access, across the board, top to bottom and coast to coast, to hard armour and suitable patrol carbines.  It will cost more, both in terms of training time, training ammunition, capital expenses to buy the things, but it is worth it.  Time and money spent on training is almost always money well spent.

Always with the paperwork, or get a textbook early if you’re taking ITLS!

We’ve wrapped our NSR ITLS Provider Course, and it’s all over even the paperwork.  ITLS is a great organization to work with, and they try hard to make the administration pretty seamless.

I sent it off yesterday morning, got a reply yesterday afternoon, and someone at Int’l is hard at work in the CMS getting our cards ready for printing a distribution to our friends at North Shore Rescue.

There’s the course roster, which we try hard to get done before hand.  The practical evaluation results, the student info forms, and the written “celebration of learning” answer forms all get scanned, and all the data goes into ITLS Course Management System.  We also keep copies of every course feedback form in our database; it’s nice to make sure we’re not making the same mistake three or four times!

The number one comment that we get is some variation on “I wish I’d gotten the textbook sooner!” and this has been consistent throughout the 15 years I’ve been teaching ITLS.  There’s a huge amount of info crammed into a 2-day provider course, and the more thoroughly you do a pre-read, the better your experience in the course will be!