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Lehigh Acres Fire, Rescue using new lifesaving device

March 22, 2010
Lehigh Acres Citizen

If you happen to watch the Lehigh Acres Fire/Rescue personnel trying to revive an adult patient in cardiac arrest, you may hear one of them ask to "Pass the SALT!" Yes, you heard right.

The SALT airway is a new device being used in adult cardiac arrest patients to gain rapid access to the airway and provide oxygen and ventilation. The device has been used very successfully in the military, and is now making its appearance in the states. SALT stands for Supraglottic Airway Laryngealpharyngeal Tube.

The device is placed into the mouth of the adult cardiac arrest patient, followed by rescue personnel using a bag-valve-mask system to deliver oxygen and breaths for the non-breathing patient.

The device lifts the tongue out of the airway to allow a clear passage of oxygen. Next, the paramedic will insert an endotracheal (ET) breathing tube through the device and into the trachea (wind pipe) to deliver optimum oxygen and breathing levels.

Traditional placement of an ET tube is done by the paramedic using a laryngoscope blade to visualize the opening of the trachea, and then having to place the ET tube into the opening while maintaining a view of the "target." That process can be time-consuming, difficult to complete and require the stopping of CPR to complete the task, officials say.

This goes against the latest principles of the American Heart Association for uninterrupted CPR for the cardiac arrest patient. The SALT airway takes away that costly delay of CPR.

The initial training for device is roughly 30 minutes, according to EMS Division Chief Michael Pcolar. The personnel watch a short on-line video, followed by a lecture and demonstration. The personnel finish up the training by practicing placing the device in an airway manikin until comfortable. All stations have access to additional training time with the device and manikin as necessary.

Dr. Joseph Lemmons, medical director for the organization, approved the use of the device.

"The new SALT (Supraglottic Airway Laryngopharyngeal Tube) allows for more rapid, safe and effective endotracheal intubation. What once took minutes, now takes just seconds. I am confident that after training, quality and product evaluation, this device will be part of our resuscitation protocol."

All of the District's three rescues and four ALS engines have the device on board.

Lehigh Acres Fire/Rescue is one of the few Lee County agencies using the device, Lemmons said.



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