First Responders, Meet Your Opponent: “Death”

Death Race

“Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.”  – Isaac Asimov -

Meet your opponent: “Death”

In the daily race between Life and Death, the first responder is the designated competitor for Life. It’s a two horse race and there can be just one winner. The only problem is – we’re not always sure where the finish line is. Physiological death is now seen as a process, more than an event. It is a process that begins when the heart stops beating, the lungs stop working and the brain ceases functioning – a medical condition termed cardiac arrest. During a cardiac arrest, all three criteria of death are present. Conditions once considered indicative of death are now reversible. Where in the process a dividing line is drawn between life and death depends on factors beyond the presence or absence of vital signs. In general, clinical death is neither necessary nor sufficient for a determination of legal death. A patient with working heart and lungs determined to be brain dead can be pronounced legally dead without clinical death occurring. As scientific knowledge and medicine advance, a precise medical definition of death becomes more problematic.

Death is the cessation of all biological functions that sustain a living organism. Phenomena which commonly bring about death include biological aging, predation, malnutrition, disease, suicide, homicide and accidents or trauma resulting in terminal injury. Bodies of living organisms begin to decompose shortly after death.

In society, the nature of death and humanity’s awareness of its own mortality has for millennia been a concern of the world’s religious traditions and of philosophical inquiry. This includes belief in resurrection (associated with Abrahamic religions), reincarnation or rebirth (associated with Dharmic religions), or that consciousness permanently ceases to exist, known as eternal oblivion (often associated with atheism).

On the living side of death, commemoration ceremonies may include various mourning, funeral practices and ceremonies of honouring the deceased. The physical remains of a person, commonly known as a corpse or body, are usually interred whole or cremated, though among the world’s cultures there are a variety of other methods of mortuary disposal. In the English language, blessings directed towards a dead person include rest in peace, or its initialism RIP.

The most common cause of human deaths in the world is heart disease, followed by stroke and other cerebrovascular diseases, and in the third place lower respiratory infections.

Senescence

Almost all animals who survive external hazards to their biological functioning eventually die from biological aging, known in life sciences as “senescence”. Unnatural causes of death include suicide and homicide. From all causes, roughly 150,000 people die around the world each day. Of these, two thirds die directly or indirectly due to senescence, but in industrialized countries—such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany—the rate approaches 90%, i.e., nearly nine out of ten of all deaths are related to senescence.

Signs of death or strong indications that a warm-blooded animal is no longer alive are:

  • Cessation of breathing
  • Cardiac arrest (no pulse)
  • Pallor mortis, paleness which happens in the 15–120 minutes after death
  • Livor mortis, a settling of the blood in the lower (dependent) portion of the body
  • Algor mortis, the reduction in body temperature following death. This is generally a steady decline until matching ambient temperature
  • Rigor mortis, the limbs of the corpse become stiff (Latin rigor) and difficult to move or manipulate
  • Decomposition, the reduction into simpler forms of matter, accompanied by a strong, unpleasant odor

The Finish Line – Problems of definition

The concept of death is a key to human understanding of the phenomenon. There are many scientific approaches to the concept. For example, brain death, as practiced in medical science, defines death as a point in time at which brain activity ceases.

One of the challenges in defining death is in distinguishing it from life. As a point in time, death would seem to refer to the moment at which life ends. However, determining when death has occurred requires drawing precise conceptual boundaries between life and death. This is problematic because there is little consensus over how to define life. This general problem applies to the particular challenge of defining death in the context of medicine.

It is possible to define life in terms of consciousness. When consciousness ceases, a living organism can be said to have died. One of the notable flaws in this approach, however, is that there are many organisms which are alive but probably not conscious (for example, single-celled organisms). Another problem is in defining consciousness, which has many different definitions given by modern scientists, psychologists and philosophers. Additionally, many religious traditions, including Abrahamic and Dharmic traditions, hold that death does not (or may not) entail the end of consciousness. In certain cultures, death is more of a process than a single event. It implies a slow shift from one spiritual state to another.

Other definitions for death focus on the character of cessation of something. In this context “death” describes merely the state where something has ceased, for example, life. Thus, the definition of “life” simultaneously defines death.

Today, where a definition of the moment of death is required, doctors and coroners usually turn to “brain death” or “biological death” to define a person as being dead; people are considered dead when the electrical activity in their brain ceases. It is presumed that an end of electrical activity indicates the end of consciousness. However, suspension of consciousness must be permanent, and not transient, as occurs during certain sleep stages, and especially a coma. In the case of sleep, EEGs can easily tell the difference.

However, the category of “brain death” is seen by some scholars to be problematic. For instance, Dr. Franklin Miller, senior faculty member at the Department of Bioethics, National Institutes of Health, notes: “By the late 1990s, however, the equation of brain death with death of the human being was increasingly challenged by scholars, based on evidence regarding the array of biological functioning displayed by patients correctly diagnosed as having this condition who were maintained on mechanical ventilation for substantial periods of time. These patients maintained the ability to sustain circulation and respiration, control temperature, excrete wastes, heal wounds, fight infections and, most dramatically, to gestate fetuses (in the case of pregnant “brain-dead” women).”

Those people maintaining that only the neo-cortex of the brain is necessary for consciousness sometimes argue that only electrical activity should be considered when defining death. Eventually it is possible that the criterion for death will be the permanent and irreversible loss of cognitive function, as evidenced by the death of the cerebral cortex. All hope of recovering human thought and personality is then gone given current and foreseeable medical technology. However, at present, in most places the more conservative definition of death – irreversible cessation of electrical activity in the whole brain, as opposed to just in the neo-cortex – has been adopted

Even by whole-brain criteria, the determination of brain death can be complicated. EEGs can detect spurious electrical impulses, while certain drugs, hypoglycemia, hypoxia, or hypothermia can suppress or even stop brain activity on a temporary basis. Most commonly used method to diagnose with is with brain stem reflexes:

  • Pupils fixed, dilated and unresponsive to direct light in the absence of drug effects or ocular trauma.
  • Corneal reflexes absent bilaterally. The patient should not blink when the corneas are lightly brushed.
  • Cough and gag reflexes absent bilaterally. The patient should not react when the pharynx is stimulated or when the endotracheal tube is suctioned.
  • Doll’s eye response absent. When the head is turned from side to side, the eyes remain fixed in the orbits.
  • Cold water caloric response absent bilaterally. Ice water is gently instilled into each external ear canal using a 30 ml syringe. No nystagmus (fast component towards irrigated ear) is noted. Observe each side for one minute and allow five minutes between sides.

Misdiagnosed

misdiagnoses

There are many anecdotal references to people being declared dead by physicians and then “coming back to life”, sometimes days later in their own coffin, or when embalming procedures are about to begin. From the mid-18th century onwards, there was an upsurge in the public’s fear of being mistakenly buried alive, and much debate about the uncertainty of the signs of death. Various suggestions were made to test for signs of life before burial, ranging from pouring vinegar and pepper into the corpse’s mouth to applying red hot pokers to the feet or into the rectum. Writing in 1895, the physician J.C. Ouseley claimed that as many as 2,700 people were buried prematurely each year in England and Wales, although others estimated the figure to be closer to 800.

 

In cases of electric shock, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for an hour or longer can allow stunned nerves to recover, allowing an apparently dead person to survive. People found unconscious under icy water may survive if their faces are kept continuously cold until they arrive at an emergency room.[19] This “diving response”, in which metabolic activity and oxygen requirements are minimal, is something humans share with cetaceans called the mammalian diving reflex.

 

As medical technologies advance, ideas about when death occurs may have to be re-evaluated in light of the ability to restore a person to vitality after longer periods of apparent death (as happened when CPR and defibrillation showed that cessation of heartbeat is inadequate as a decisive indicator of death). The lack of electrical brain activity may not be enough to consider someone scientifically dead. 

Near the finish line – Near death Experiences (NDE)

During a cardiac arrest, all three criteria of death are present. There then follows a period of time, which may last from a few seconds to an hour or more, in which emergency medical efforts may succeed in restarting the heart and reversing the dying process. What people experience during this period of cardiac arrest provides a unique window of understanding into what we are all likely to experience during the dying process?

What can we learn from near death experiences? A near-death experience (NDE) refers to personal experiences associated with impending death, encompassing multiple possible sensations including detachment from the body, feelings of levitation, total serenity, security, warmth, the experience of absolute dissolution, and the presence of a light. These phenomena are usually reported after an individual has been pronounced clinically dead or has been very close to death. With recent developments in cardiac resuscitation techniques, the number of reported NDEs has increased. Brain death is one of the deciding factors when pronouncing a trauma patient as dead. Determining function and presence of necrosis after trauma to the whole brain or brain-stem may be used to determine brain death, and is used in many states in the US.

In 2008, academic neurosurgeon Eben Alexander had an NDE while attached to an electroencephalogram which demonstrated a total lack of neural activity. After resuscitation, he found he was able to identify the face of a deceased biological sister whom he had previously not known existed (he had been raised in an adoptive family). Prior to his NDE, Alexander had been non-religious. Afterwards, he gained a definite belief in the existence of an afterlife, and went on to write a book about his life-altering experience. Alexander states that the elaborate, highly detailed, and even prescient experiences he had while his brain activity was clinically non-existent provide definitive proof that consciousness can exist without the need for a functional brain. So the plot thickens.

Researchers have identified the common elements that define near-death experiences. Bruce Greyson argues that the general features of the experience include impressions of being outside one’s physical body, visions of deceased relatives and religious figures, and transcendence of egotic and spatiotemporal boundaries.  Many different elements have been reported, though the exact elements tend to correspond with the cultural, philosophical, or religious beliefs of the person experiencing it, but taken together, the scientific experience suggests that all aspects of near-death experience have a neuro-physiological or psychological basis.

Studying the area close to the finish line.

Dimethyltryptamine
Artificial Near Death Experiences through hallucinogenics. (The “Spirit molecule”)

I am sure many of you will remember the movie “Flatliners” –  a 1990 American sci-fi thriller film directed by Joel Schumacher, starring Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin and Oliver Platt. Five medical students use physical science in an attempt to find out what lies beyond death. They conduct clandestine experiments that produce near-death experiences. So these ideas are not new. More and more people wants to know what they can expect after death before they die. Is it possible to create NDE artificially? Without going to the extent the Medical students did in the movie. 

Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound of the tryptamine family. DMT is present everywhere in Plants and in Mammals. In humans it is secreted by the Pineal gland. Rick Strassman advanced the hypothesis that a massive release of the psychedelic dimethyltryptamine (DMT) from the pineal gland prior to death or near-death was the cause of the near-death experience phenomenon. This in order to explain NDE on a biological basis. So can we create a NDE by administering exogenous DMT?

The Hallucination produced by exogenous intake of DMT are Reported by many people. “Recreational NDE experiences” is currently one of South America’s most lucrative tourism activities through Ayahuasca retreats. The ingestion of Ayahuasca, which is a psychedelic brew made from the bark of Banisteriopsis caapi vine alone or in combination with various plants, contains a high concentration of DMT. The ingestion is often referred to as a “little death”. People to this in order to experience a “spiritual awakening” and many reports that Life hasn’t been the same ever since their experience. 

Real death (RD) vs. Near Death Experience (NDE) vs. Artificial Near Death Experience (ANDE)

real death vs near death

So with all these similarities it is very likely that a type of Near Death Experience can be simulated by an exogenous intake of hallucinogenic substances for example DMT.

Conclusion

So why is this important to the first responder? This is our race. This is why we get up in the morning  – to compete. We are the ones who tries to win the race and make it “not today”. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we don’t. Do we “lose” if we don’t succeed? It is important to know and understand who and what we are up against. Sometimes we don’t know that we may have already crossed the finish line. When we win, we brisk the patient off to the hospital with wailing sirens. What does Death do when he wins? Understanding the finishing line will help us understand our opponent, the race and the prize. The exact definition of death, as with life, has been delusive through the ages. Religions where the only ones who attempted to define what happens during this inevitable ending to all life. Now, as we start to understand the process on a biological basis, there is an overlap of medicine and human spirituality. What we know now will probably not be true in 5 – 10 years. So while we huddle in the trenches on the blurry front line of life – the most important thing is to race well.

Death Joke

“The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?” - Edgar Allan Poe -

By Dr. Adriaan van der Wart
Iridia Medical Physician, Mobile Medical Unit

 

Why Employ Paramedics at Remote Worksites?

Employing paramedics on remote worksites means more efficient medical attention and fewer lost-time incidents.

 

Occupational safety is of paramount importance in our offices, warehouses, camps and worksites; safe working conditions promote job satisfaction while keeping workers on the job.

The people commonly assigned to deliver care are occupational first-aid attendants Level III (OFAIII) who respond to medical emergencies on site. While having an OFAIII on site is the minimum standard, organizations serious about the safety of their workers can go above and beyond – as evidenced by the recent trend of placing experienced primary care paramedics (PCPs) and advanced care paramedics (ACPs) on site.

Current WorkSafeBC regulations require high-risk worksites more than 20 minutes away from a hospital to be supported by an OFAIII with access to a first-aid room and transport vehicle. An OFAIII will perform to his or her scope of practice, but often an ill or injured patient will be referred elsewhere because the OFAIII does not have the training or authority to treat the patient beyond a basic level. When there is a life-threatening emergency, this is clearly necessary. However, when the injury is minor but nevertheless untreatable by the OFAIII, a productivity issue arises for employers, as the worker may not be able to return to work promptly, resulting in a lost-workday incident.

Professionals providing medical care come with a variety of backgrounds and not all “medics” are created equal. The differences in the education and scope of an OFAIII, PCP and ACP are significant and clearly defined (see chart). Beyond the classroom, paramedics gain much of their experience working for an ambulance service and attending a wide spectrum of medical emergencies. These interactions provide them with practical experience to identify and treat cases they might find on the worksite.

Under the supervision of a physician medical director, PCPs and ACPs can perform to the full scope of their license. A PCP can administer medications to ease the symptoms of common illnesses like asthma and diabetes. These interventions could save a time-consuming and costly transport out of camp. Likewise, an ACP has an even greater scope of care that extends to the use of narcotics for pain management and the ability to provide cardiac monitoring and airway management in the event of a life- threatening emergency.

Remote WorksitesParamedics have the necessary skills to provide higher-level interventions before referring a patient to the hospital. In ongoing health and safety management, reducing lost-time injuries and major incidents is important to everyone.

An efficient way to incorporate paramedics into the care model of remote work sites is through a “hub and spoke” response system. The highest-trained responder (i.e., an ACP) is stationed at the main camp/medical clinic, and is supported by a combination of PCPs and OFAIIIs strategically placed throughout the worksite to provide the appropriate level of care. Patients are treated on site and turned over to the ACP as required. With such a system, the employer benefits from a high-value safety program while patients receive timely and appropriate care.

Employers looking to attract and retain top workers should consider expanding their health and safety program to include experienced ACPs and PCPs supported by a physician medical director. By raising the minimum standard of care, employers can take comfort in knowing their employees and contractors will receive the right care at the right time.

By Thomas Puddicombe

Director, Business Operations, Iridia Medical

 

Article originally published in the Summer 2014 issue of Mineral Exploration

West Africa Ebola Outbreak – Update

Ebola Outbreak

August 18, 2014 – Ebola Update

2014 West Africa Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak

Introduction

In the past, Iridia has provided updates on the development of emerging viral infections around the world. In particular, we relayed updates to our client audience about developments surrounding:

  • 2013 outbreak of the A(H7N9) Avian Influenza Virus in China
  • MERS Coronavirus, or ‘Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus’

Iridia tracks these developments as they are relevant to a number of our key stakeholders including the following:

  • Fire Rescue Departments – these individuals can be exposed on the front lines to emerging infectious threats, so we attempt to provide current advice on patient care protocols as well as recommendations with respect to limiting occupational exposure.
  • Remote Medical Programs – our paramedics and physicians work in remote camp environments.  These camps are at high-risk for infectious outbreaks; therefore, we need to prepare should these outbreaks spread to Canada.
  • Critical Infrastructure Preparedness Programs – in the past, we’ve been very involved in developing response plans for the health, banking, transportation, and oil and gas sectors with respect to new influenza strains, including the recent H1N1 outbreak. 

For these reasons, we’d like to keep our stakeholders abreast of the recent West Africa Ebola outbreak (learn more about Ebola) so we are all well informed and prepared to act should the virus propagate further.

Current Ebola Outbreak

The outbreak began in Guinea in December 2013. However, it was not detected until March 2014, after it spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. It is the most severe outbreak of Ebola in terms of the number of human cases and fatalities since the discovery of the virus in 1976.

As of August 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported a total of 2,127 suspected cases and 1,145 deaths. On 8 August, it formally designated the outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern. Various aid organizations and international bodies, including the CDC, and the European Commission have mobilised personnel and funds to help counter the outbreak.

Key Alerts, Aug 8 – 18

  • August 8 – WHO announces a cumulative total of 1779 suspect and confirmed cases – View here.
  • August 8 – WHO declares the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern – View here.
  • August 13 – WHO announces a cumulative total of 1975 suspect and confirmed cases – View here.
  • August 15 –  Between 12 and 13 August 2014, a total of 152 new cases of Ebola virus disease as well as 76 deaths reported – View here.

ebola outbreak history

Risks and Recommendations

The position of the WHO is that the risk of transmission of Ebola virus disease during air travel remains low. “Unlike infections such as influenza or tuberculosis, Ebola is not airborne,” says Dr. Nuttall, Director of WHO Global Capacity Alert and Response. “It can only be transmitted by direct contact with the body fluids of a person who is sick with the disease.”

Additionally, the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends:

“That Canadians avoid all non-essential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone due to the ongoing Ebola virus outbreak. This recommendation is made to protect Canadian travellers and make it easier for health officials in these countries to dedicate their resources towards controlling the outbreak. The risk of infection is low for most travellers, however the risk may increase for those who are work in a health care setting.”

Statistics

  • Total confirmed cases: 2,127
  • Total fatalities: 1,145
  • Countries with infection – Guinea, Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone

Additional Information

Thank you for checking our Ebola outbreak summary, please check back for future updates. For more information, please visit http://www.who.int

 

Canada’s 2014 Stroke Report

Strke CareWe came across the 2014 Stroke Report from the Heart and Stroke Foundation and thought we would share. Have a look (full report below) because this report contains a superb assessment of Canada’s current stroke care strategies and outlines where we’re heading.

In case you’re wondering, the Heart and Stroke Foundation is in an excellent position to keep us informed on stroke care. Year after year Heart and Stroke, with support from 130,000+ Canadians around the country, is able to invest in ground-breaking research, prevention efforts and advocates healthy change across Canada.

2014 Stroke Report

Excerpt from the report: “More is known about its causes and effects, and stroke services have improved and expanded in many regions. Patient outcomes are also much better. Now one-third fewer people admitted to hospital for stroke die, compared with 10 years ago. And on top of this, there are fewer hospitalizations from stroke in some provinces, as a result of both fewer strokes happening but also because people with mild strokes can now get appropriate services in the community.

Canadians are also understanding stroke better, recognizing its signs and how to prevent it. 

However, this is only part of the story and only today’s story. Stroke remains a serious health issue that affects thousands of Canadians and their loved ones. It is the second leading cause of death in the world. There are an estimated 50,000 strokes in Canada every year, or one every 10 minutes. And 315,000 Canadians are living with the effects of stroke, which can include a range of disabilities.”

stroke report

Iridia is proud to have worked with the Heart and Stroke Foundation in developing the BC Stroke Strategy. We will stand alongside the Foundation in the step-by-step fight against heart disease and stroke.

 

 

Celebrate 7/7 With Iridia… It’s Elemental!

To commemorate July 7th (07/07), we’re celebrating Iridia and Iridium, the 77th element in the Periodic Table! You can join us in celebration by participating in the second annual Elemental SmartMan competition.

Throughout the day you will have the opportunity to show us your CPR skills by using our Ambu SmartMan. This innovative manikin is the newest in CPR technology and provides you with real time feedback on your compression depth, rate and effectiveness. Any visitor to Iridia’s office who tries our SmartMan will be entered into draw to win a Kobo e-Reader.

Swing by the Iridia office today for your chance to win! Can’t make it to the office? That’s OK; we will be putting your knowledge of Iridium to the test on Facebook. Head over to our Facebook page for your chance to win.

What Makes Iridium So Special?

iridium-factsheet

The name Iridia is a variant of Iridium, the 77th element in the Periodic Table. In reviewing the properties of Iridium, we noted a surprising number of similarities between the element and our company, as outlined below:

  • Iridium is very rare, much in the same way that our team is a unique collection of people, interests, and expertise.
  • It connects with other metals to form alloys, as we engage stakeholders to build solutions.
  • It is a standard of measure for weight, and we set the standard for practical, effective solutions for our clients.
  • It is durable as are we in having weathered economic slowdowns, competition, and a changing market landscape.

Lastly, and most intriguingly, is the fact that Iridium is found in very high concentrations in meteors and asteroids when compared to the amounts found in the earth’s crust. This finding has led to the idea that an asteroid colliding with the earth triggered an ice age and the eradication of the dinosaurs. This “out with old, in with the new” paradigm aligns perfectly with our company, as going back to our founding days, we are perpetually challenging the status quo in the interest of finding new ways to bring about improvements.

In the end, we have found ourselves with a name that might trigger a double take when first heard, and we’re perfectly happy with that. In our view, it gives us license to tell our story and share how Iridia resonates so well with us.

Happy Iridia Day!

 

Top 10 Benefits of an EMR License

EMR License

Firefighters are often the first emergency response personnel on the scene of an emergency, but are not permitted to use certain medical devices, like an epi auto-injector.  When there are BC Ambulance Service delays or firefighters find themselves in remote rescue scenarios, it is beneficial to the patient if firefighters have the skills to assist patients to use life-saving medications. However, responding fire fighters must work within the scope of their license and within their level of training. For this reason, Iridia supports first responders transitioning from an EMA-FR to an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) license level. 

EMR license protocols outline the roles and responsibilities of firefighters and paramedics who respond to a medical emergency on-scene. The goal of the protocols is to quickly identify and respond to any potential life threatening medical emergency.

Using the EMR protocols provides firefighters with better tools to attend to a patient’s needs. It allows firefighters to use additional pain relief as well as immobilization tools when responding to emergency situations.

 

Top 10 Benefits of an EMR License

  1. 80 additional hours of training which provides a greater ability to diagnose and treat a wide spectrum of illnesses   
  2. Ability to provide an effective way to relieve a patient’s pain through the use of Entonox
  3. Having basic diagnostic tools such as blood pressure cuffs and pulse oximeter use covered within the EMR license level
  4. Training in patient transport and packaging techniques which exactly mirror the BC Ambulance Service
  5. Having a license level which meets national standards instead of the local FR3 license
  6. Ability to provide “symptom relief” medications such as ASA and Nitro to patients
  7. A license that does not require a re-certification course every three years
  8. Additional training on how to provide more in-depth patient charting
  9. Access to a wider range of Continuing Medical Education programs to maintain skills
  10. The ability to provider a higher level of care to patients in need

Our EMR program is just the beginning. We believe in a bright future for BC fire departments and their delivery of pre-hospital care.

 

Iridia Named One of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies

Vancouver-based company listed in PROFIT magazine’s 26th annual compilation of Canada’s Top 500 Growing Companies

Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies

Vancouver, B.C. (June 12, 2014) – PROFIT Magazine ranked Iridia Medical No. 314 on the 26th annual PROFIT 500, ranking Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies by five-year revenue growth, the PROFIT 500 profiles the country’s most successful growth companies. A joint venture between Canada’s premier business brands, the PROFIT 500 is published in the July issue of Canadian Business and online at PROFITguide.com.

“The members of the PROFIT 500 are the elite of the country’s entrepreneurial community,” says James Cowan, Editor-in-Chief of Canadian Business and PROFIT. “Their stories are lessons in business strategy, innovation, management excellence and sheer tenacity.”

Since 1998, Iridia Medical has been specializing in the provision of innovative, practical solutions to enhance the delivery and quality of healthcare for Canadians. Their primary services fall into four areas: medical consulting, paramedic programs, AED programs, and medical education. With a five-year revenue growth of 159%, Iridia Medical ranked no. 314 on the 2014 PROFIT 500.

FROM OUR PRESIDENT

“Iridia Medical is proud to again be included on the PROFIT 500 – we are indeed honoured to be listed alongside so many deserving companies. Guided by our passion to Enable Piece of Mind in those who respond to medical emergencies, we are committed to improving the care provided to Canadians in their time of need.” says Vern Biccum, President of Iridia Medical.  

ABOUT IRIDIA MEDICAL

Despite being a small company, Iridia Medical has become a big player in the realm of healthcare solutions in Canada. Since 1998, Iridia Medical’s notable achievements include:

  • PARAMEDICS: Becoming one of B.C.’s largest private employers of paramedics and owner of B.C.’s first privately-owned Mobile Medical Unit, currently stationed in Northern B.C.  
  • AEDS: Installing over 1,800 AED programs across a broad spectrum of industries and becoming a key supplier for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of B.C. & Yukon’s Public Access to Defibrillation Program
  • EDUCATION: Providing certification and training of 30,000+ healthcare professionals (ACLS, PALS, CIW, etc.) and lay rescuers (BLS, AED) since 1998
  • CONSULTING: Gaining recognition as a provincial leader in physician engagement consulting services as well as providing advocacy & support for a majority of B.C.’s fire rescue departments
  • Being named as one of Business in Vancouver magazine’s Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies in B.C. for three consecutive years – 2011 to 2013.

In working towards these goals, the Iridia Medical team benefitted from the range of knowledge represented in the broad cross-section of backgrounds and life experiences of its employees. They are a dedicated group who work together to create a dynamic and ethical workplace where diversity, challenge, and ongoing learning are a way of life.

ABOUT PROFIT AND PROFITGUIDE.COM

PROFIT: Your Guide to Business Success is Canada’s preeminent media brand dedicated to the management issues and opportunities facing small and mid-sized businesses. For 32 years, Canadian entrepreneurs across a vast array of economic sectors have remained loyal to PROFIT because it’s a timely and reliable source of actionable information that helps them achieve business success and get the recognition they deserve for generating positive economic and social change. Visit PROFIT online at PROFITguide.com.

ABOUT CANADIAN BUSINESS

Founded in 1928, Canadian Business is the longest-serving, best-selling and most-trusted business publication in the country. With a readership of more than 800,000, it is the country’s premier media brand for executives and senior business leaders. It fuels the success of Canada’s business elite with a focus on the things that matter most: leadership, innovation, business strategy and management tactics. We provide concrete examples of business achievement, thought-provoking analysis and compelling storytelling, all in an elegant package with bold graphics and great photography. Canadian Business—what leadership looks like.

For more information, please contact:

Vern Biccum
President
Iridia Medical Inc.
vbiccum@iridiamedical.com
604.685.4747 or 1.604.404.6444
www.iridiamedical.com

 

An Advanced Care Paramedic at the Oil Patch

British Columbia Advanced Care Paramedic

I’ve worked for Iridia Medical for seven years, primarily travelling in and out of the Dilly Creek area for each rotation. In that time I’ve earned the title of “veteran,” giving me some advantages over the paramedics coming into these remote sites for the first time.

My years working in the north have taught me to pack as light as possible, the lighter the better with the airlines. You quickly learn what you can live without for 3 weeks and what absolute necessities are. Travel from the Okanagan where I live is always a new adventure. On those cloudless days I get a panoramic view of this province that only a few get to see on such a regular basis. En route I meet up with the other medics coming into the project at the various airports along the way. Arrival to camp is a two stage journey with air travel being the first and a 3+ hour drive to follow. During the drive, I am always watching for that close up view of the wildlife going about their business along the sides of the road. My favorite to date was seeing the cow moose with the triplets grazing alongside her – a rare sight at any time of the year.

Camp life is really quite nice. The camp staff know how difficult it is to be away from home working in these remote areas so many go the extra mile to have good food and a comfortable bed ready when you arrive. It’s always good to see those familiar faces when I arrive and get back into the groove of work life again. After touching base with the outgoing medic, the day ends with a quick meal and a well-deserved sleep.

The Advanced Care Paramedic (ACP) at the Dilly Creek is the central point of contact for our client’s safety department for all of their North East BC operations. Mornings start with that first coffee (got to lubricate and fuel those neurons!), compiling the previous day’s patient counts and mileage reports for submission. My day is usually filled with treating patients, gathering information about current and upcoming projects, ensuring the medic team has everything they need and working with operations to keep things running as smooth as possible. Some days are busier than others but all in all the time passes fairly quickly.

Advanced Care Paramedic at the Oil Patch

Being a clinic based service in a central location affords a few luxuries that many on the medic team don’t often receive. My clinic is modestly small but well equipped and comfortable. I have excellent internet and cell service along with satellite TV. Cushy by northern standards and I count myself fortunate.

The ACP at Dilly Creek has the freedom to move around the entire lease – their scope of coverage is not limited to one site. It is a nice break to get out of the office and visit the medic team, share a coffee and see how the various projects are getting along. Our client’s medical needs and responses are diverse so the team has to be adaptable to whatever is required. From simple cuts and bruises to critical evacuation by air I am proud to say our team has done it all up here and done it very well.

Home is 21 days away and there isn’t anyone one who doesn’t look forward to that last drive out. Our treat after a successful rotation is lunch and a cold beverage at the Boston Pizza in Fort Nelson. We chew over the events of the past 3 weeks, talk about our plans for the coming time off and get that relaxed feeling you experience knowing you are going home. 

Travis Cleave
Advanced Care Paramedic with Iridia

 

Economics for Success – Richmond Style

The Economics for Success curriculum was designed by, and is delivered through, Junior Achievement British Columbia (JABC).

On May 1st, I was again fortunate enough to have the opportunity to teach Economics for Success to a group of high school students, this time in Richmond, BC.

Without a doubt, the experience will be a highlight of the month, and I’d like to tell you why. 

Economics for Success Background

 

The Economics for Success curriculum was designed by, and is delivered through, Junior Achievement British Columbia (JABC).   The course is geared toward engaging grade 9/10 students on topics such as personal budgeting and career planning in a way that they otherwise wouldn’t be in the standard BC curriculum.  Content is delivered by volunteers such as me, and the program is made available at no charge to the schools.   Junior Achievement itself is a not-for-profit and is the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating young people about business.   Locally, Cheryl Borgmann, Regional Manager, Lower Mainland, and her team do an exceptional job of coordinating us volunteers and supporting us to the deliver the best in-class experience that we can. The Economics for Success curriculum was designed by, and is delivered through, Junior Achievement British Columbia (JABC).

Why I Do It

At Iridia, all employees are fortunate to have 3 paid volunteer days per year that they can use to give back in some way within their community.   In looking at the multitude of options, JABC struck a chord with me for several reasons.  Firstly, it gave me the opportunity to teach which I simply love to do – indeed when teaching, time simply flies by.   Secondly, it aligned perfectly with Iridia’s corporate value of Lifelong Learning.   Lastly, it addresses an unmet need.  I feel the course opens the door to a new way of thinking and provides some excellent tactical tools that will serve the students well as they grow up and start a career.  Many of us, even as adults, could improve our planning and budgeting skills, so the chance to help instill some of these basics at an early age is very powerful in my eyes.

The Reward

The rewards for participating in JABC are numerous, and here are a few that really stand out to me. 

-          There is nothing quite like watching students connect new ideas for the first time, make a realization, and then adjust their train of thought accordingly.   Watching this happen in real time, maybe as they realize just how much of their paycheque will be sacrificed to drive that shiny new car, is quite impactful to see. 

-          Watching Cheryl and her team at JABC as they magically bring all the pieces to bear to continually tweak, schedule, and ultimately deliver this program is quite a sight to behold.  Not even a year ago, I knew little of them, nor of the great work they do — but now I do. 

-          Working alongside my teaching partner Ed Gilbert, a consummate professional, is reward unto itself.   Ed’s passion and commitment to this program is infectious, and his in-class enthusiasm resonates incredibly well with the students we teach.   It’s great to see career professionals giving of their time so genuinely. 

-          On a more selfish level, I love the feeling I get from volunteering. We are all busy and have a myriad of commitments.  They can feel all-encompassing and overwhelming.  “If only I had an extra hour/day” inevitably floats to the forefront of our psyche.  The irony, of course, it that it is precisely during such times that a volunteering experience can be maximally beneficial. 

And that’s why May has started off on such a positive note.   The JABC Economics for Success program, as with all JABC programs I’m sure, is always in demand and as such teaching opportunities will be available next year.  I for one, can’t wait! 

In closing, if you have the opportunity to volunteer through your employer, please do give it some considering.  The rewards are numerous, and the opportunity to learn about yourself, your community, and your fellow citizens in unrivaled.

Vern Biccum
President, Iridia Medical

 

What is the BC Naloxone Program?

Naloxone Program Kit

What is Naloxone?

Before we discuss the British Columbia Naloxone Program, it’s best to understand Naloxone use. Naloxone is drug used to counter the effects of an opioid overdose, such as heroin or morphine. Naloxone is often included as a part of emergency overdose kits distributed drug users.

The BC Naloxone Program

Since 2012, the BC Naloxone Program has aimed to provide Naloxone to those at risk of an overdose. At participating sites, potential participants are trained to prevent, recognize and respond to an overdose situation, if eligible they are prescribed a Naloxone kit. The kit includes some of the following: Naloxone, syringes, gloves, mask and alcohol swabs.

Why do communities need a Naloxone Program?

Since 85% of overdoses happen within the company of others, a Naloxone kit offers witnesses the opportunity to save while waiting for the first responders to arrive. In BC, Naloxone was used 2,367 times in 2011, yet there were still 256 deaths due to drug overdose.

Naloxone Program in British Columbia

Naloxone kits are now available in 35 sites across BC

The dilemma for first responders

What happens when a first responder arrives at the scene of an overdose but they don’t know if it’s Naloxone or more opioid in the syringe? This question was recently presented to Iridia’s Medical Director, Dr. Allan Holmes by BC first responders. Here’s what he had to say:

“If first responders arrive at the scene after the medication has been drawn up, then they should look for:

  • A Naloxone kit
  • An opened vial
  • A used syringe from the kit
  • Clear liquid in the syringe

If confirmed, then there’s strong evidence that proper procedures are being followed. It would be highly unlikely in this scenario that someone would use components of the kit and THEN switch to an illicit drug.”

The bottom line

Placing Naloxone in the hands of patients using opioids is proven to save lives. First responders should not stop individuals from administering the medication. If the Naloxone kit is present and the individual is prepared, then the injection should be allowed to occur. 

Refusal to permit the Naloxone treatment should only occur with significant cause. For example, there is a full syringe that someone is about to inject and the kit is nowhere to be found or is unopened.

Dilemmas presented by the BC Naloxone Program and other similar programs are some of the major reasons Iridia continues to advocate for enhanced education for our first responders. Particularly, in the case of an overdose, they should have appropriate training and access to lifesaving equipment.

Learn how Iridia is helping to enhance first responder training: http://blog.iridiamedical.com/2014/02/26/first-responder-licensing/