Thanks to a very generous donation from TB Vets, North Shore Rescue has been able to purchase three Oxylator resuscitation devices. The Oxylator is an oxygen driven resuscitator which, without operator input, can deliver oxygen to a patient during a resuscitation effort (CPR). By itself, or in combination with the Autopulse automatic CPR device, this will allow North Shore Rescue medics to resuscitate patients hands-free, while involved in technical rescues such as helicopter longlines, mountain rescues, and rope rescues.
Prior to introducing this technology, SAR medics would be limited in their ability to continue effective resuscitation efforts while transporting a patient. Providing chest compressions on the move is both difficult to do right, and potentially dangerous for the rescuer. This issue can now be eliminated by using the Autopulse device. Similarly, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to use a traditional bag-valve-mask (BVM) while engaged in a longline helicopter extraction. In flight, it is hard to maintain a seal on the mask, positioning is very awkward, and the wind can blow the bag out of the medic’s hand. This issue can now mitigated by implementing the Oxylator, which automatically delivers ventilations at a set rate and pressure.
A terrific example of where this device could be instrumental in saving a life is in cases of hypothermic cardiac arrest where the patient requires effective ongoing CPR while being transported. In fact, last year NSR and Squamish SAR Medic, Miles Randell, was involved in the sensational resuscitation of Christine Newman. Trapped in a tree-well and hypothermic, the 24 year old was effectively dead, with her heart stopped or beating very slowly, for between 4 and 7 hours. Miles and his team managed to resuscitate her, and through the use of ECMO technology at VGH, she made a full recovery. Luckily, the helicopter was able to land close to her location, and there were few interruptions in CPR once she was discovered. Had she been in a steeper, more inaccessible location, her outcome may not have been so good simply because effective CPR is very difficult in these circumstances.
An Autopulse unit and Oxylator will eliminate any issues with CPR, and allow rescuers to focus on the extraction itself. In essence, this device will let rescuers continue effective CPR, hands-free, while focusing on getting the patient out of the backcountry to definitive care.
Of special note – This demonstration coincides very close with January 19, which marks two years since the passing of Tim Jones. Tim was an Advanced Life Support Paramedic, BC Ambulance Unit Chief, North Shore Rescue team leader, and my father. In fact, this technology would have been directly beneficial to his care after he collapsed from a Sudden Cardiac Arrest on Mount Seymour two years ago. I can think no better way to honour him, than to continue introducing improvements to our response capabilities. He would be extremely proud of this advance in particular.
Once again, we would like to extend our sincerest thanks to TB Vets for their donation which has facilitated this advance. North Shore Rescue is proud to be members of a community that feels as strongly as we do about the importance of public safety and life-saving advancements!