Health Check: Sepsis training saves lives

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FREMONT, Neb. (WOWT) -- One every 20 seconds: That's how often someone is diagnosed with Sepsis.

Sepsis training - October Health Check

Close to 300,000 people die every year from the condition but medical experts at Methodist Fremont Health say some of those deaths could be prevented if we knew and paid attention to the warning signs.

When an emergency strikes, emergency responders are often the first on the scene. That's why nationwide, EMTs are being trained to recognize and treat the life-threatening condition, Sepsis.

"Sepsis is basically an overwhelming infection that affects all the body systems," said Rachael Nielson, Sepsis Team Coordinator at Methodist Fremont Health.

Sepsis can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death. It always begins with a common infection.

"Pneumonia, we see it from a urinary tract infection from surgical site infections - even skin infections," Nielson said.

But if those infections aren't treated or if symptoms can get worse, "By the time they get in to us they are so sick, sometimes we can't save them," she said.

The grim news is one of out three people admitted to the hospital with septic shock won't make it. The good news is if they make to the hospital in time their chance for survival goes up 50-percent.

That's where EMTs come in.

Nielson said, "We found the number-one thing we can do to increase survival is to immediately give IV fluids as fast as we can give them. Well, our rescue squads, paramedics, first responders have that capability."

Aaron Peirce, with Bancroft Rural Volunteer Fire and Rescue, said, "A statistic that I wasn't are of: 50 percent of Sepsis patients are transported by EMS."

That's why Peirce is learning the warning signs like a high heart rate, confusion, extreme pain or discomfort, a fever, shivering along with shortness of breath.

"We need to be looking out for those red flags," Peirce said. "You need to be calling the hospital right away."

Alerting them a patient with Sepsis is on the way. Something they all hope will save a life.

While Sepsis is an equal opportunity illness, some groups are more likely to be affected including very young children, older adults and those with a weakened immune system.

Most importantly, if you recognize the warning signs in yourself or a family member, get medical help immediately.