The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

January 11, 2013

New equipment to assist with patients’ cardiac emergencies

By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer

CLINTON — A new defibrillator is helping the Clinton Fire Department provide better and faster care to patients seeking emergency services, especially those suffering from acardiac problems.  

The Life Pak 15, a Physio product, allows the department to monitor a patient’s heart rhythm, blood pressure, CO2 and other conditions as they are transported to the emergency room during an emergency call.

The new equipment allows for the information on the patient to be transmitted to the hospital and also has Bluetooth capabilities.   

“I can transmit the data to my computer and we can see everything that incident did in real time,” Clinton Fire Department Division Chief Andrew McGovern said.

The equipment replaces a 10-year-old defibrillator that did not have nearly the same monitoring capabilites.

“It’s like going from a Chevy to a Cadillac,” firefighter Ed Wing said during a training session on Thursday at Central Fire.  

 The Life Pak was purchased using a $217,640 assistance to firefighters grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency the department was awarded in 2011. The city of Clinton also provided a 10 percent match for the equipment.  

With the grant money, the fire department was able to purchase the defibrillator, lithium ion batteries, software and other items.  

Firefighters got their first glimpse of the new technology two months ago.

They trained on it Thursday and will do so approximately every month as part of the training program laid out by the department’s medical director.     

“We do this pretty much every day for real,” Firefighter Kurt VanDellen said.

A group of firefighters practices using the equipment by giving different scenarios they would experience with an actual patient and reacting appropriately. 

In addition to shocking a patient’s heart into a normal rhythm, the defibrillator can also help in a case where a patient is having trouble breathing, or has been subjected to smoke during a fire.  

“We’re more confident in our abilities. This machine is much more accurate,” VanDellen said.  

The Clinton Fire Department is the only emergency response team within a 20 mile radius that provides basic life support to patients 24 hours a day. The new defibrillator will allow the department to provide the highest level of advanced life support to not only Clinton residents, but patients in the region.  

“It’s very important. Especially in cardiac care, it dramatically dropped door to drug time or door to cath lab time,” McGovern said. “The patient is able to get better and quicker care at the hospital because we can identify what is going on.”