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Some EMS systems are starting to apply hypothermia therapy to cardiac arrest victims. Wake County, NC, EMS last year started cooling down cardiac arrest patients in the field with ice packs and infusions of ice-cold saline solution before transporting them to the hospital. Other EMS systems that are looking at this type of therapy or have already begun using it include Seattle, Pittsburgh and Travis County/Austin, TX.
Who knows where this new type of therapy may lead. Maybe it is something that can be used for stroke victims. It certainly seemed to work for Kevin Everett, the Buffalo Bills football player who suffered a spinal cord injury during the team's season opener with the Denver Broncos. A doctor on the sidelines quickly applied moderate hypothermia to him. Now, where once Everett might have become a quadriplegic, he is showing promising results with the use of his extremities.
I don't know if Ted Williams will come back within the next 500 years, when the technology is perfected for him to make his resurrection. I do know I won't see it. But I do know that the use of hypothermia cooling for cardiac arrest patients looks promising. There is much more to learn, but for now this new therapy shows potential.
GARY LUDWIG, MS, EMT-P, a FirehouseÂ® contributing editor, is a deputy fire chief with the Memphis, TN, Fire Department. He has 30 years of fire-rescue service experience. Ludwig is chairman of the EMS Section for the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), has a master's degree in business and management, and is a licensed paramedic. He is a frequent speaker at EMS and fire conferences nationally and internationally, and can be reached through his website at www.garyludwig.com.