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Paramedics in Johnson County upgrading essential tool

Posted: 8:30 AM, Nov 06, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-06 09:30:07-05
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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — When paramedics come to you in an emergency, the first piece of equipment they grab is a heart monitor.

Capt. Mike Hall with the Olathe Fire Department said it's like bringing the emergency room to the patient.

“This is, if I could use an analogy, this is like a law enforcement officer's gun or a firefighter's apparatus. This is an integral part of an advanced life support pre-hospital system,” Division Chief Adiel Garcia with Johnson County Med-Act described.

Now, agencies across Johnson County are upgrading to a new brand of heart monitor. Instead of using Phillips, they’ll use Zoll.

Garcia said the change is part of a routine review every 10 years to make sure paramedics continue to use the best tool available.

Phillips did issue an alert earlier this year warning users its heart monitor could fail more often than expected, and the FDA recalled some batteries for Phillips machines.

Paramedics in Johnson County said none of those issues impacted their service. Even before the recall, local paramedics had several backup power sources ready to use.

A heart monitor helps paramedics diagnose what is wrong with a patient and acts as a defibrillator.

Med-Act, which supplies ambulance service to the county, and nine fire departments have all upgraded to Zoll heart monitors. Each agency is in the midst of a three-and-a-half-month-long training process.

Ambulances should have the new monitors on board by mid-December.

“We have one, unified medical director who gives us our protocols, so training together will make patient care more efficient, more effective and lead to better outcomes,” Garcia explained.

In total, 10 agencies are spending about $2.8 million combined on the upgrade.