EMS, Emergency Medical Service, is much more than a ride to the hospital. It is a system of coordinated response and emergency medical care, involving multiple people and agencies. It is activated by a call for help, usually by a call to 911, after an incident of serious illness or injury.
The Illinois Poison Center (IPC) is proud to be an active partner with EMS for toxicology related cases, when necessary, 24/7/365! No matter the severity of the case, the EMS/IPC team work together to guarantee the highest quality and speed of care. Sometimes the case is extremely serious and the timing of care is a matter of life or death:
Saturday, 7:00pm – A paramedic called the IPC while en route to an ER (via ambulance):
EMS call to IPC: We have a 14 month old child in severe respiratory distress after taking a drink of, and aspirating, tiki torch lamp oil.
IPC: Do not induce vomiting, do not give activated charcoal. Which ER are you going to? What’s the patient’s name?
EMS: Patients name is Bobby. ER destination: Bettyville Hospital. What do we need to be concerned about here?
IPC: Aspiration of lamp oil can lead to severe respiratory distress up to respiratory arrest. Prepare for rapid deterioration. Monitor cardiac activity. Keep on oxygen.
IPC call to ER (7:05pm): A 14 month old male child is en route via ambulance, no known allergies, drank 1 oz or less of tiki torch oil 20 min. ago. Obtain ABG with pulse oximetry, CBC, CMP, CXR, place on monitor and obtain EKG. Watch for mental status deterioration, hypoxemia, respiratory distress, and spontaneous vomiting. Give oxygen and beta agonists as necessary. If patient is markedly symptomatic, he may need ventilatory support along with transfer to the nearest PICU (pediatric ICU), Please call us after the patient arrives. Keep the child NPO (nothing by mouth), no GI decontamination (no lavage/charcoal). Support ABC’s.
Emergency Room (ER): Thanks. We’ll call you back if we need your assistance after the patient arrives.
Sometimes, the case is quick and simple:
Monday, 6:30am…an EMT called to the home of a 59 year old male:
EMS call to IPC: We have a 59 year old male who accidentally drank a swallow of household hydrogen peroxide 3% while cleaning his teeth.
IPC: The patient should be fine; doesn’t need to be transported to the ER. He may experience minor symptoms such as stomach pain and/or vomiting. Give him some water. Patient can call us if he has any questions.
As fellow first responders, EMS and IPC work closely together as a powerful team for continuity of care throughout the patient’s medical journey: from site, during ambulance transport, to ER and to ICU (if necessary). No matter the time of day or night, you’ve got a team of medical professionals at your fingertips (IPC: 1.800.222.1222, EMS: 911).
The IPC salutes all EMS professionals (EMT’s and paramedics) and congratulates you on a job well done. Happy National EMS Week!