NAEMT Supports Prehospital Screening For Carbon Monoxide

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Carbon Monoxide

National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) supports the use of routine field screening protocols for the detection of elevated carbon monoxide (CO) levels in the blood of any patient presenting with suspected exposure or symptoms.

In a letter to its members and EMS professionals this month, NAEMT highlighted that "failure to diagnose may lead to improper treatment and transport decisions for victims of carbon monoxide poisoning" and recommended proper CO training, along with noninvasive detection protocols for the recognition and management of carbon monoxide poisoning, by all field EMS personnel as a way to improve patient care and protect the public from the "significant public health hazard" of carbon monoxide. The introduction of four new CO training programs, available free to NAEMT members online helps the association build awareness and promote adequate protocols for addressing this public health challenge.

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NAEMT joins other industry-leading emergency first responder associations, including the National Association of EMS Educators (NAEMSE) and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), who have recently issued similar recommendations that EMS and fire professionals "noninvasively screen patients for carbon monoxide poisoning that have had a suspected exposure, or present with any of the signs or symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning." These organizations are examples of a growing trend within the emergency services industry and the convergence toward a new standard of care for the proactive screening of CO-exposed patients and emergency services personnel by newly developed Pulse CO-Oximetry technology.

NAEMT President Jerry Johnston said, "The new training programs are designed to close the knowledge gap between carbon monoxide poisoning and available noninvasive respiratory gas monitoring tools, like Pulse CO-Oximetry, for both EMTs and paramedics. We believe that Pulse CO-Oximetry represents a vital component in the rapid, noninvasive detection of CO levels in the blood of patients at the scene of emergencies, where critical diagnosis and treatment decisions are initiated and most effective."

Too often, even the most skilled first responders can miss the chance to treat carbon monoxide poisoning early because until now there hasn't been a fast, accurate and noninvasive way to detect elevated levels of CO in the blood. However, with the Masimo Rainbow SET Rad-57 Pulse CO-Oximeter -- the first and only technology capable of continuously and noninvasively measuring carbon monoxide levels in the blood -- EMS professionals can easily detect carbon monoxide poisoning on the spot in just seconds with the push of a button, allowing for prompt and possibly life-saving treatment. In addition, the Masimo Rad-57 can also limit the likelihood of long-term cardiac and neurological damage that can result from non-fatal exposures.

Studies have shown that even a single high level exposure, or prolonged exposure to low levels of Carbon Monoxide, has the potential to cause long-term cardiac, neurocognitive and psychiatric damage. The long-term effects of CO-including Parkinson-like syndromes affecting motor skills and speech, dementia, cortical blindness, acute renal failure, muscle cell death, and more -- can often be nearly as devastating for victims and their families as its mortality.

NAEMT is the nation's largest and oldest organization solely representing the professional interests of more than 34,000 paid and volunteer EMS workers from across the United States and 57 foreign countries who provide on-the-scene emergency care to populations around the world.

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