By: Kate Pula, Training Officer, 2015
There are now several areas in the United States, and in the UK where EMTs and paramedics are using cooling techniques to help increase survival for cardiac arrest patients. Cooling methods, which induce hypothermia, are the same that any hospital implements as soon as they receive cardiac arrest patients. Inducing hypothermia consists of administration of IVs that are stored in coolers and ice bags placed in all the major artery areas. The cooling lowers the patient’s body temperature in order to slow blood circulation and decreases the brain’s need for oxygen and therefore decreases brain damage. By the time the patient arrives at the hospital their body temperature has already been lowered a few degrees, so it doesn’t take much time for the hospital to get the patient’s body down to the ideal temperature, which is 89.6 to 93.2°F.
Hospitals across the country encourage EMS agencies to use inducing hypothermia protocol and start the cooling of patients en route to the hospital. It improves the patient’s neurological status and gives the hospital more time for diagnostics and treatment. Since cooling methods have been implemented survival rates have improved above the normal survival rate.