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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Recent Posts
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  • Comments
    Survivor
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    Well said. Given your attention to work/life balance mixed with genuine passion for the profession, it is no surprise that you have had such longevity in this career. I look forward to more posts in the future, whenever you get to them ;) Keep on keepin' on!
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    TOTWTYTR: How can you say that ED staff are lazy or inefficient? You don't know what are you talking about mate!!! Big difference between EMT/Paramedics and ED staff...is you can give medication when you want and you don't need to wait for a medic to prescribe that drug.
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    I have PSVT and have been converted twice with Adenosine and it feels horrible, like an elephant sitting on our chest, I once went to the ER after 30 in V-tach, and a doctor said he learned this maneuver that usually works 90% of the time. Have the patient lay down and push down just…
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    Handover needs to be handover. The physical transfer of the patient needs to be a separate step. Introduce the nurse/team to the patient, give the relevant stuff, then move the patient over; even in a high acuity patient, unless he is ready to die without an immediate intervention by the physician, the 15-30 seconds spent…
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