Valley Fire Department adds new life saving tool

It’s cutting-edge technology
6 News is On Your Side with a look at a new lifesaving device.
Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 5:55 PM CDT
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VALLEY, Neb. (WOWT) - When seconds matter in saving lives anything first responders can do to help can be critical.

The Valley Volunteer Fire Department is adding two new tools for EMTs to assist in early diagnosis of injuries.

It’s cutting-edge technology.

“It’s very quick,” Dr. Dalton Nelsen of UNMC said. “It gives you some data that helps you make critical decisions to improve the stability of your patient.”

It’s called Point of Care Ultrasound or POCUS. EMTs in Valley are now able to do ultrasounds on patients while en route to the hospital.

Some of the volunteer EMTs saw a presentation on POCUS at Creighton University and the department’s board decided to go all in on the technology.

Valley is the first volunteer emergency service in the country to have this capability.

The department developed its own training sessions.

“They actually didn’t have a process in place before us to develop new technology and bring it into the field, so we worked with the through not only improving our process but also creating a pathway for other services wanting to advance this throughout the state,” Valley Rescue Captain Emma Zeratsky said.

The Valley Volunteer Fire Dept. is adding two new tools for EMTs to assist in early diagnosis of injuries.

The department just finished a year-long pilot program.

Valley EMTs have used POCUS nine times and in each case, field ultrasounds have mirrored those gathered later at hospitals. One incident involved a motorcyclist who had severe chest injuries.

Patient symptoms indicated a collapsed lung. The normal procedure would have called for inserting a needle to release air from outside the lungs.

POCUS helped in the EMT’s decision.

“They actually found out that even though all of the signs were consistent with that there’s other causes of those symptoms and they said you know what we were worried about a thorax, we put the ultrasound on and they didn’t have to do that intervention because they had more modalities to it,” Medical Director Dr. Shaila Coffey said.

“In reality, it probably should take five minutes or less to do this,” Dr. Nelsen said. “Obviously in the back of an ambulance, it’s going to be a little different you have more barriers to overcome.”

And in this business, that could be a fair trade when every second counts.

Valley fire added two of the POCUS devices, one for each squad. Twenty-five of the department’s 43 volunteers have been trained in using POCUS.

Each device cost around $3,000. They were paid for by ambulance fees.

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