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Portable ultrasound technology helps Martin County firefighters and paramedics save lives

Equipment can detect internal bleeding much faster, officials say
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Posted at 11:52 AM, Jun 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-25 10:13:40-04

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — Martin County Fire Rescue has a new tool to get seriously injured or sick patients the help they need.

The agency said it's the first one on the Treasure Coast to use portable ultrasound technology to help paramedics fine internal bleeding, potentially hours faster.

When firefighters and paramedics race to respond to a 911 call, they're now carrying new equipment that could save lives.

"I’ve used it a couple of times on some patients," said Faye McAlpine, a firefighter and paramedic with Martin County Fire Rescue.

Portable handheld ultrasound technology helps emergency crews find internal injuries, such as bleeding, which they couldn't see before.

McAlpine has already seen the benefits.

"We’ve had a couple of stabbings, and there was blood or we call it, free fluid, around the liver," said McAlpine.

The handheld kits can help McAlpine detect internal bleeding, potentially in just minutes.

"That white line there, if there was blood you’d see it there between the liver and kidney," said McAlpine.

This helps speed up the process of getting a patient to the best possible hospital to treat their injuries.

"We would end up sending them to a local facility that couldn’t necessarily handle bleeding in the abdomen," said McAlpine.

Now, McAlpine and her team can see that a patient meets the criteria to go straight to a trauma center.

"Transfers between hospitals can take hours. Literally. Unfortunately, that’s detrimental to the patient," said McAlpine.

For McAlpine, it's reassuring to know she has one more took to give patients the best possible outcome, and for her, a successful rescue.

Palm Beach County Fire Rescue is also using this portable ultrasound technology. The agency got their first one about a year ago, and just added four more in the last few months.