9. Alternative Airways

My List of the 16 Most Significant EMS Treatment Changes in My 20 Years as a Paramedic

9. Alternative Airways

When I started as a paramedic – all we had was the ET tube. You brought in a code, the first question you were asked in the EMS room was “Did you get the tube?” If you got the tube, you got an approving nod. You didn’t, after you left, the other medics would shake their head. Of course, if you got the tube, nobody asked how many tries it took you to get the tube. You might hear the medic’s EMT partner later commenting it was a “hard tube,” which meant there were multiple tries. Familiar with the term “A Pass the Larengyscope Code?” I have been at a few of those and heard of many more.

Nowdays, we have alternative airways – The LMA and the Combi-tube. We may soon get the King LT. And we have limits on the number of times a paramedic or any combination of paramedics can attempt an ET.  Two tries for the first medic and one for the second.  No more than three tries total.  And, most importantly, you don’t have to try at all.  You can just go to the alternative airway to start if you think it gives you the best chance to quickly secure the airway.

Here are some old posts describing my first LMA and my first Combi-tube, as well as a post called “The Battle” describing my beginning mindset when contemplating what airway to use.

LMA

Combi-tube

The Battle

I can tell you this now, based on the medical literature, and on my experiences with the LMA and Combi-tube, I no longer hesitate to use an alternative airway as my first line airway.

The goal is not to impress other medics, but to effectively ventilate the patient, and in cases of cardiac arrest, not to interrupt compressions. I can do both of those quite well with an alternative airway.

16 Most Significant EMS Treatment Changes in My 20 Years as a Paramedic

10. Chemical Restraint
11. No More Lasix
12. EZ-IO
13. Permissive Hypotension
14.Expanded Medication Routes, Less IV Emphasis
15. Narrower Use of Narcan
16. Increased Standing Orders

1 Comment

  • Eleanor says:

    Heya I really like your blog, particularly your latest stuff comparing what’s changed between now and 20 years ago as a paramedic. I run a blog on Emergency Services called http://www.helloemergency.co.uk I’d be really interested in getting a guest post from you on your experiences as a paramedic. It would have to be before the 7th of May though. Anyway please let me know if this is possible, email me and we can have a chat!

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Peter Canning

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  • Comments
    Casey
    Intranasal Medication
    Agreed Steve. Love IN Versed for combative/ictal patients. Also IN versed is used in ED for kids. Helps with pain relief and as an amnesic and wears off fairly quick- not sure that directly applies to prehospital but food for thought nonetheless
    2015-05-07 00:36:28
    Chris
    AHA 2015 Guidelines: A Preview
    I am a 25 year veteran firefighter/medic, and 9 year veteran critial care fixed wing medic. I work in Northeast Ohio. In this region, we have all but abandoned endotrachal intubation for the intent of ease of a superglottic airway. AHA de-emphasizing ETI and we have seen this coming for a while. We either bag…
    2015-05-05 20:54:08
    Steve
    Intranasal Medication
    "either because they are seizing or are violent, then the better and quicker route would be IM. " I'm quite hesitant about bring a needle against someone fighting me or shaking... those are the perfect times to be needleless.
    2015-04-27 18:34:14
    bill
    The Ideal Medic
    very well put! aggression can be a good in moderation but over aggression can do harm. 1 year to 30 years no medic will know it all epically with our ever changing job description. thank you for your input!
    2015-04-26 11:46:50
    Ben Leighton
    Adenosine
    Hi. Im a UK Student Paramedic and I have a few questions regarding adenosine (we currently dont carry it) and I was wondering if any of you guys could e-mail me at ben-leighton@hotmail.co.uk and start some correspondance. Im aiming to set a proposal to my service in order to carry this drug and wanted some…
    2015-04-20 13:36:03

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