Ice cold fluids help to save lives

THRUXTON-based Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance medics have successfully treated a patient following a life-threatening cardiac arrest using pre-hospital ice cold intravenous fluids.

Research has recently proven that rapid cooling of the brain effectively reduces brain damage if there has been a short period of time without oxygen.

This is already standard practice for patients once they reach hospital and is starting to make it into pre-hospital practice in the UK and around the world.

In August, agreement was reached that Hampshire Air Ambulance doctors should start carrying ice cold fluids on board to be given intravenously to patients when the heart has been successfully restarted following cardiac arrest.

Doctor Simon Hughes and Paul Webber, Helimed 56 and SCAS paramedic, were the first to put the protocol to the test when a man suffered a cardiac arrest in the Kings Somborne area.

The patient, who was to all intents and purposes dead upon the air ambulance’s arrival, was given one litre of intravenous fluid cooled to 4 degrees C.

When handed over to the emergency care team at Southampton General Hospital, he had already been cooled to the target temperature and had been given the best hope of recovery.

When Doctor Hughes visited the patient three days later, he was fully conscious, talking and smiling.

He was given full heart bypass surgery the following day, and went home to recuperate with his family a few days later.

Doctor Hughes said: “The use of cooling fluids is personal to me as my father suffered cardiac arrest in rural France last year.

“Because of the remote location, cooling fluids were not administered until he reached hospital.

“He suffered severe brain damage, never regained consciousness and died two weeks later.

“The treatment is simple, effective and inexpensive as it simply involves keeping intravenous saline in a thermos bag with ice packs.”

The charity has also announced that its aim to have a pre-hospital emergency specialist doctor on all missions is progressing well and it aims to have a doctor on all missions early in 2014.

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