Zika Virus: Separating Fact from Fiction

The Zika virus’s northwards travel from South America has been a trending topic and, often, the reports raise as many questions as they answer. With a history of enabling peace of mind through pandemic consulting, Iridia Medical wants to clear up any misconceptions and rumours by sharing concise and accurate information about this virus.

From February 15th to 25th, we released daily infographics through social media to answer frequently-asked questions about the Zika virus. The topics covered ranged from what the virus is and how it spreads, to methods of managing the risk. Below, you’ll find an overview of the infographic information, along with the infographics themselves.

What is the Zika Virus?

The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne virus and transmitted primarily by the Aedes mosquitoes. The virus can be, but rarely is, transmitted through sexual contact and blood transfusions.

Zika Virus Symptoms and Treatment

Zika virus symptoms in adults are usually mild to non-existent: up to 80% of virus-carriers have no symptoms and the other 20% exhibit only minor symptoms. With mild symptoms, health experts do not recommend antiviral medications. Plenty of rest, fluids and supportive care are recommended, similar to other virus infections. So far, no vaccines are available for this virus, though several research groups are working on developing one.

Is the Zika Virus Linked to Microcephaly?

Concerns from health experts have escalated recently due to a potential link between the Zika virus and the birth defect, microcephaly. While there have been reports of microcephaly in babies of mothers living in Brazil who were infected with the virus while pregnant, it is critical to be aware that, at this time, health experts have NOT established a definitive link between the Zika virus and microcephaly. However, as the virus can spread from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby, it is recommended that pregnant women consider postponing travel to any area where the Zika virus is widespread.

For concerned pregnant women, blood tests and amniocentesis are recommended to check for any Zika virus infection. Additionally, regular ultrasounds are recommended for microcephaly detection.

How does the Zika Virus Spread?

The Zika virus is predominantly spread through the bite of the Aedes mosquitoes. To prevent the spread, we recommend preventative measures. For example, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid these mosquito bites. This includes avoiding travel to places where the virus is being transmitted. If you are already in areas known to be contaminated by the Zika virus, we recommend the following:

  • wear long-sleeved shirts and pants,
  • sleep with a mosquito bed net,
  • use insect repellent, and
  • practice safe sex to prevent sexual transmission.

Will the virus spread to Canada? This is very unlikely. The confirmed cases of the Zika virus in Canada involve people who have travelled to areas with outbreaks. The risk of infection within Canada is low, as the Aedes mosquitoes are not established in Canada because they are not well-suited to our climate.

What is Zika Virus Infographic What Happens If I Get Zika Virus Infographic Pregnancy and Zika Virus Infographic
How does Zika Virus Spread Infographic Zika Virus Treatment Infographic How to Stop Spread of Zika Virus Infographic
How Did the Outbreak Happen in Latin and South America Infographic Zika Virus FAQs Infographic Will the Zika Virus Spread to Canada Infographic

Over the next four weeks, we will be providing weekly updates about the Zika virus through our social media. Afterwards, you can expect monthly updates until the virus is contained. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to stay updated. If you have any questions or concerns about the Zika virus, feel free to reach out to us!

Updated as of Feb 15th
SOURCE: CDC & Public Health Agency of Canada

  • CDC added Aruba and Bonaire to the travel advisory watch list for pregnant women. (There are now 32 countries in Latin & South America on the watch list.)
  • WHO issued a $56 million plan to combat the Zika virus through fast-tracking vaccines, virus control, diagnostics and research.
  • Women wishing to get pregnant should wait at least two months after their return from areas where the Zika virus is being transmitted.
  • Men who have travelled where the Zika virus is being transmitted should use condoms with any partner who is or could become pregnant for two months after their return.

Repeat Training Needed for Epi Autoinjectors and Asthma Inhalers

AutoinjectorA recent study from the University of Texas shows that patients frequently do not understand how to self-administer medications with epinephrine autoinjectors and asthma inhalers – considered by most to be easy-to-use medical devices.

Contrary to opinion, this study showed only 7 percent of asthma inhaler users were able to demonstrate correct use of their device. Common errors were not realizing that a horn-type sound from the spacer indicated the inhalation was performed imperfectly and not shaking the inhaler before administering the second medication puff.

In the case of epinephrine autoinjectors only 16 percent of patients with were able to demonstrate correct use. The most common error was not holding the unit in place for at least 10 seconds after triggering. Other errors included the failure to place the needle end of the device on the thigh and failure to depress the device forcefully enough to activate the injection.

Mistakes such as these is one of the reasons Iridia provides support for first responders transitioning from an EMA-FR to an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) license level – Learn more about the EMR Program.

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 life threatening medical emergency. Within these protocols, first responders are trained on how to use these devices correctly to support patients should they need to use an inhaler or autoinjector. 

Additionally, Iridia demonstrates proper use of these devices in our Critical Intervention Workshops, designed to review and test emergency response procedures in Non-Hospital settings such as private surgery centers, outpatient and diagnostic facilities.

It is an overlooked fact that many healthcare providers assume patients know how to use these devices. Instead, healthcare providers should take the time to understand the difficulty patients are having with these devices. Most mistakes made by users in the study would have resulted in diminished doses – impacting potentially life-saving treatment if the need arose.

“Repeated verbal instruction and, perhaps even more effective, repeated visual education, including demonstration using trainer devices, are highly recommended. Novel methods of providing this repetitive training for patients are needed,” says Dr. Bonds, author of the study.

 

First Responders, Meet Your Opponent: “Death”

Death Race

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

First Responder – 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

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

 

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.

 

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/

 

Looking Back on our First Year as Iridia Medical

Brand Launch

This month marks a very special anniversary in our company’s history – being one year since we re-branded from Global Medical Services to Iridia Medical. 

Many of you lived some of that journey with us as we shared with you the triumphs and challenges associated with changing to a new brand identity and bringing that identity to life through new marketing materials, a new website and Social Media presence, new building signage, documents, email addresses, and so on.  The sheer amount of work involved in the re-brand was staggering and could not have been achieved without the collective efforts of the Iridia team and others with whom we engaged throughout the journey. 

So what has our first year as Iridia Medical involved?

We kicked off our year under our new brand with the deployment of our Mobile Medical Unit into a remote oil and gas camp in Northeastern BC.  This has been one of our most innovative projects to date and is an industry first in British Columbia. It allows ill and injured workers in these remote camps to receive, in many cases, definitive medical care which enables them to stay in camp and avoid the hazards of transport to another medical facility; particularly at certain times of the year when extreme weather conditions can make emergency evacuation close to impossible.

We also saw Iridia named as a key partner in two public access to defibrillation (PAD) programs – the BC Heart and Stroke PAD Program and the National AED Program Federal Initiative. The BC initiative will see 450 AEDs and associated training delivered to communities throughout BC.  The national program will see a targeted 3,000 AEDs distributed to recreational facilities, mostly arenas, across the country.  The initiative will also see 30,000 people trained in the use of AEDs.  Iridia is a key distributor for each of these programs and we are proud to be involved with these life-saving initiatives.

In recognition of the growth we have achieved in the past few years, Iridia was again named one of Business in Vancouver’s top 100 fastest growing companies for the third year running.  We were also proud to have been included in PROFIT Magazine’s list of Canada’s Top 500 Growing Companies for 2013. 

Finally, our commitment to health and wellness continued throughout the year with, most notably, our participation in the Global Corporate Challenge (GCC).  This program is designed to “get the world moving” and that is, in fact, what occurred with 37,432 teams (that’s 262,000 people!) from around the world participating in the 2013 GCC program.  21 of Iridia’s staff participated and some incredible accomplishments were achieved during the 4 months of the program.

Our First Year

The above highlights are just a select few of the key accomplishments we’ve achieved during our first year as Iridia Medical which has certainly been an exciting and action-packed one!  Looking forward, we are energized by the goals we have set for ourselves including expanding our remote medical services program both within and beyond BC, and building on our education and AED programs.  Stay tuned for more!

 

 

Enhancing First Responder SkillSets: EpiPens

Fire Fighter FIrst Responder LicenseIn this blog series, we’re going to discuss how we’ve helped many British Columbia fire departments enhance their patient care skills in order to provide better care in the field.

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.   This is why Iridia Medical continues to support first responders improving their patient care skills.

These days, firefighters can be in direct contact with BCAS dispatchers – key information about a patient’s condition can be immediately communicated between both parties.  This removes ambiguity and allows the BCAS to monitor and guide firefighters on how to best assist a patient with their Epi-pen.  With this enhanced communication and improved skillsets, firefighters are able to provide better patient care.   “We have taken an active role in providing this training because it is the right thing to do for patients” says Dr. Allan Holmes, Founder of Iridia Medical.  “What kind of care would you want a loved one to receive during a severe allergic reaction?” is the logic behind offering epi-pen training.

Today’s example will look at how Epinephrine Auto-injectors can positively impact patient outcomes.

Epinephrine Auto-injector

Considerable educational efforts have been undertaken so that teachers, coaches, and babysitters feel confident administering epi auto-injectors.  Unfortunately, firefighters with first responder licenses are not provided the same discretion.

Iridia has been actively supporting and training fire first responders to assist patients with administering their epi auto-injectors in emergency situations.  We support fire first responders enhancing their patient care skillset because:

  • Fire first responders are often first on the scene of a medical emergency – waiting several minutes for an ambulance to administer an epi auto-injector could negatively impact the patient.
  • Currently, fire first responders and BCAS can only administer oxygen to a patient they believe is having an allergic reaction – there is no provision in their current  training program to instruct FR on how  to assist a patient with an epi auto-injector.

epi pen auto injector

In the best case scenario, the patient is lucid enough to administer their epi auto-injector.  However, if a patient is panicking and can’t self-administer the medication (or has fallen unconscious), Iridia has trained first responders to act.  Our epi auto-injector program teaches first responders how to recognize allergic reaction indicators as well as when and how an epi-pen should be used[1]; and just as important, when it should not be used – skills we believe every first responder should know.

During a serious allergic reaction every second counts.  Delaying the administration of epinephrine can have serious consequences.  Providing first responders the discretion to assist and administer epi auto-injectors when they arrive on the scene of an allergic reaction emergency has the potential to significantly improve a patient’s outcome and reduces the potential for a sometimes fatal outcome.  

[1] Upon patient consent and oversight support from BCAS dispatch.

We Can Help Enhance Your First Responder Skills

Enhancing patient care skills requires coordinating many moving parts.  Training, equipment, and a medical oversight framework need to be considered.  In addition, it’s important that fire departments understand current regulations and the limitations of their current first responder license.  Over the past decade, Iridia Medical has successfully assisted fire departments of all sizes in implementing Epi auto-injector, pulse oximeter, and blood pressure measurement programs.

To learn more, contact Jason Bradley (jbradley@iridiamedical.com), Fire Services Program Lead, to get you started.

 

 

Heart Month 2014, Help Spread the Word

Heart Month 2014It is a little known fact that heart disease and stroke take one life every 7 minutes and, astonishingly, 90 percent of Canadians have at least one risk factor.

With obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes on the rise, it is expected that the incidence of heart disease and stroke will swell in upcoming generations. Lifestyle changes have led to sedentary work environments, poor diets, high sodium intake and increased stress which all contribute to heart disease. We are facing what the Heart and Stroke Foundation calls the “perfect storm.”

Heart Disease Facts

  • Everyday, heart disease and stroke lead to nearly 1,000 hospital visits.
  • Heart disease and stroke rob Canadians of nearly 250,000 potential years of life
  • Heart disease and stroke kills more women than men, a fact that many women may not realize.
  • Today, less than 10% of children meet recommended physical activity guidelines and less than half eat the recommended fruit and vegetables for optimum health.

Heart Month 2014

Today, you can make a difference by celebrating Heart Month 2014 and eliminate preventable heart disease. For over 60 years, the Heart and Stroke Foundation has organized Heart Month, one of the largest fundraising campaigns in Canada in the battle against these two killers.

Heart Month brings together tens of thousands of Canadians who volunteer and donate to raise funds for this worthy cause – funds which will help support life-saving research and the raising of awareness of heart disease and stroke within the community. Learn how you can participate and join the Heart Month Community.

As heart disease is an issue that is very personal to us, Iridia will donate a portion of the proceeds from your purchase of AED’s, AED accessories or workshops to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. We value and appreciate the hard work the Heart and Stroke Foundation is doing and we are thankful to have them as a partner against heart disease.

In recognition of Heart Month, Iridia is offering 10% off all AEDs purchased in the month of February and 1 year of free medical direction for first time purchasers. For more information, please contact AED Sales at 1-888-404-6444.

Heart Month 2014 Banner

It is an uphill battle against heart disease and stroke, but it’s a battle we can win – help us and spread the word!

 

Iridia Helps Deliver Innovative Pediatric Simulation

sim baby

If you’ve visited Surrey Memorial Hospital’s new Pediatric Emergency Department, you will be pleased to know that Iridia’s founder Dr. Allan Holmes played a key role in development and delivery of a Pediatric Emergency Medicine Simulation course prior to the department opening.  

Physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and clinical pharmacists used state of the art SIM-man and SIM-baby simulators to practice their clinical skills, inter-professional communications and teamwork. It provided an ideal way to master managing critical medical situations with no risk to real patients.

A First for Fraser Health

Last September, before the new Emergency opened, Surrey Memorial hosted a Pediatric Emergency Medicine (PEM) Simulation Course in our new Pediatric Emergency Department. This course was the first of its kind in for Fraser Health.

Eighty People, Four Simulations

Over 30 physicians and nearly 50 clinical staff attended. This included nurses, respiratory therapists, and clinical pharmacologists.

Using infant and child manikins, they rotated through four hands-on, interactive simulation scenarios: Pediatric Airway, Breathing, Circulation/Shock, and Disability/Seizure. This included basic life support, respiratory distress and failure, cardiac arrest algorithms, vascular access, recognition and management of shock, CNS emergencies, status epilepticus, and trauma.

It was also an excellent opportunity for participants to further orient themselves in the new Emergency Department and with new resuscitation equipment before it opened to patients in October.

A Collaboration

BC Children’s Hospital (BCCH) and SMH co-designed and ran the course. Key players were Drs. Navid Dehghani and Garth Meckler of BCCH, and Drs. Wade Sabados of SMH, Edward Mak of OHM Medical Training Services and Dr. Allan Holmes and Diana Paraan of Iridia Medical.   

PEM is a great example of how Fraser Health and Child Health BC collaborate to support professional development within the Surrey Memorial Hospital Pediatric Emergency Department.

pediatric simulation

Custom Designed Course

The course was custom-designed for the SMH setting to ensure it was practical and relevant for participants. To maximize learning, PEM was led by highly experienced physicians and nurse instructors plus the student-to-instructor ratio was kept low. Laerdal provided 3 manikins and their senior product manager also attended.

‘Great Instructors’ and ‘Great Experience’

The Pediatric Emergency Medicine Course was a resounding success. Participants especially liked the hands-on realistic scenarios, and the multi-disciplinary approach to learning. Many even said they’d like to attend PEM again and would recommend the course to colleagues!

PEM definitely met the goal of increasing the confidence of participants in dealing with pediatric emergencies.