ETMC EMS installs chillers on ambulances to help save lives

ETMC EMS has installed commercial chillers on its fleet of ambulances to hold bags of IV solution in an effort to preserve brain function and limit neurological deficits in patients experiencing cardiac arrest.

Chilled saline solution is used to create a hypothermic environment for cardiac arrest patients, which protects the brain.  The commercial chillers will allow ETMC EMS personnel to keep the saline at the prescribed temperature.

"ETMC EMS is one of the first in the country to use chillers on each unit as a potentially life-saving method," said Andrew Petty, director of clinical services. "Other EMS services around the country either use simple coolers with ice packs, or dispatch supervisors with chilled saline solution to the scene of a cardiac arrest. Our service area is too large to rely on getting a second unit or a supervisor to the scene quickly enough to be of benefit.

"We opted to install commercial chillers where we can precisely control the temperature of the saline instead of using coolers or ice chests which can vary widely throughout the shift," added Petty.

Whenever a patient regains a pulse after cardiac arrest, paramedics can begin the hypothermia process right away, using chilled intravenous saline and external cooling therapies.  That process is continued to the receiving hospital where it is maintained for up to 48 hours.

ETMC EMS is the largest ambulance provider in the state of Texas; covering 17,000 square miles in East Texas in 17 counties with 115 ambulances and three helicopters. They respond to over 140,000 calls a year for service and provide over 100,000 transports.