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Sudden cardiac arrest (no pulse and no breathing) is one of the leading causes of death in the nation.
More than half of the patients who suffer sudden cardiac arrest do so outside of a hospital. Nationwide the success rates of resuscitation from out of hospital cardiac arrest are in the single digits.
This has led Lancaster County Emergency Medical Services to add the treatment procedure called “induced cooling by EMS,” or ICE, which involves reducing the body temperature of patients who are resuscitated from non-traumatic cardiac arrest.
Lancaster County EMS will be one of the first EMS services in the state to begin induced hypothermia in patients who are resuscitated from cardiac arrest.
Greg Robinson of Lancaster County EMS developed the protocol and has trained all local EMS paramedics in the procedure.
“This is a simple, but effective treatment that should see five to 10 Lancaster County residents walk out of the hospital. Without ICE, they would have died. And it is cheap.”
Patients who are resuscitated from nontraumatic cardiac arrest will be evaluated for possible inclusion in ICE. If they meet the criteria, they will have cool packs placed over parts of the body and will receive up to 2 liters of ice cold saline.
These patients will then be transported to participating hospitals, where the cooling therapy will be continued for 24 hours; afterward the patient will be slowly rewarmed.
The goal of ICE is to maintain body temperature at about 90 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit. ICE has a protective effect on the brain and reduces the amount of damage caused by the lack of oxygen in cardiac arrest.
Hospitals that are participating are Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte and Palmetto Richland in Columbia.
The procedure has been around for years, but has recently gained acceptance in the pre-hospital hospital environment. The American Heart Associations highly recommends ICE for patients resuscitated from cardiac arrest. The costs are minimal and will be about $30 per patient.