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April 2, 2010

CPAP device aids Canadian agency

By Paul J. Rellinger
Kawartha Lakes This Week

LINDSAY, Ontario — For those who live every day with congestive heart failure (CHF), the fear of losing their breath while their lungs fill with fluid is all too real.

However, Kawartha Lakes EMS introduced a new device this week that will greatly improve the treatment of patients suffering from CHF and other similar afflictions.

The device, called the Boussignac Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) System, is a tool that will be used by area paramedics in responding to medical emergencies.

The CPAP looks a lot like a normal oxygen mask, and it's attached firmly to the patient's face, over their nose and mouth. It then expands a patient's airway and helps push air through to the lungs.

The CPAP, received on Monday, March 29, was put to use for the first time by Kawartha Lakes EMS Tuesday afternoon.

The device which, to date, is not used by many larger municipalities, will provide Kawartha Lakes EMS with the equipment needed to provide a higher level of care to patients.

"The goal of Kawartha Lakes EMS is to provide the best possible care to our patients, and the citizens of this community," said Keith Kirkpatrick, Kawartha Lakes EMS manager. "This device is just one more way for us to do that."

Ron McMillan, an EMS supervisor, said the CPAP system is a "newer form of medical technology" that will help provide better health care to patients.

"Before the CPAP system was delivered, paramedics would have to intubate patients en route to the hospital," said Mr. McMillan. "Patients would then have to be sedated and put on a ventilator, which automatically puts them (the patient) into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the hospital."

He added that the CPAP system is a less evasive procedure that will enable paramedics to stabilize a patient without the need for intubation. By doing so, it decreases a patient's stay in the hospital by two days.

The CPAP system will not only improve health care, it will help reduce health-care costs.

Kawartha Lakes EMS will be able to bring the portable CPAP system into buildings to use it on patients. The CPAPs are a one-time use per patient device. After delivering the patient to the hospital, the CPAP system would go with the patient, and paramedics would simply have a supply of CPAPs in the ambulance. Each device costs the EMS about $70.

The cost is significantly less than non-portable CPAP systems that have to be installed directly into ambulances, which cost roughly $2,000.

For more information on CPAP systems, click here.

Copyright 2010 Toronto Star Newspapers, Ltd.