Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

New FDNY Cardiac Arrest Protocol is Reasonable

In New York City, the protocol for cardiac arrest during the coronavirus pandemic has been changed. The protocol now states to pronounce the patient dead after 20 minutes, if there is no return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC). If the patient remains pulseless after full paramedic treatment, the chances of any good outcome have dramatically dropped to zero. However, the dangers of transport and infection are only going to increase with transport for the purpose of pronouncement at the hospital, because that is all that is going to happen. A doctor will probably walk out to the ambulance, ask for a brief report, look at the monitor, and then tell the medics to stop compressions and ventilations.

Is there any reason to believe that an emergency physician, who is already overworked, is going to endanger the other patients in the emergency department, just to “make it look good” for a few more minutes?

Many communities already have these protocols in place. The American Heart Association (AHA) and the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) already recommend that resuscitation be terminated with no ROSC after 20 minutes.

FDNY (Fire Department of New York, which run EMS in New York City) has traditionally been, well . . . , very traditional in its approach to cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest treatment doesn’t require much, but the traditionalists like to do a lot more than is good for the patient. For appearances? For unreasonable optimism?

Unfortunately, the president of the local union is misrepresenting this, in order to make a political point, or to demonstrate a lack of understanding, at a time when he should be trying to explain that this is protecting union members and protecting the public.


This is what the military does. They come. They check your pulse. No pulse – next. You know, we’re going to be leaving bodies behind, which is the exact opposite of what’s the oath we took.[1]


Oren Barzilay EMS Local 2507 President. Also identified by the news as a paramedic. If so he should know better.

What does the protocol state?


TEMPORARY Cardiac Arrest Standards for Disaster Response[2]


NYC REMAC (New York City Regional Emergency Medical Advisory Committee) does need to approve whatever N-95 masks have been donated, if the claim that the masks have not been approved is more accurate than the claim about resuscitation.

The NYC protocol has caught up with what many other states have been doing for decades. It is sad that the union leadership is fighting to keep EMS in the dark ages with misinformation and emotions. Misinformation thrives on emotions, so the emotional appeal is not surprising.

There is another protocol change that seems to escaped the notice of Oren Barzilay EMS Local 2507 President, or that part of the interview was cut. Intubation can be skipped – in favor of an extraglottic airway.


Use of Alternative Airways[3]


There is still no good evidence that the average paramedic is competent at intubation, but many agencies insist on intubation as if it is some sort of magical ability of paramedics. Just wave the laryngoscope and the tube goes into the trachea. Paramedics are not good at intubation, but we are good at whining about having intubation taken away, as if it is something we have earned.

We have not earned the right to make patients hypoxic, to tear up the airway, and to claim that we are improving outcomes. Hypoxia is bad for the patient. Tearing up the airway is bad for the patient. We have no good reason to believe we are providing a benefit to the patient, but we do have plenty of evidence that we are causing harm.

Why do so many of us refuse to practice?

Why do so many of us refuse to behave as if we believe any of the lies we tell about intubation being a life saving procedure?

If intubation really is “life saving”, why do paramedics refuse to engage in more than token intubation practice – and then brag about how much they practice?

Because we do not understand what we are doing and because our arguments are emotional, rather than rational.

We paramedics deserve ridicule for our repeated defenses of incompetence.

Why are we still intubating, when there is no evidence of benefit and we refuse to practice this “skill”?


Here is the only evidence I know of demonstrating benefit from intubation:


Prehospital rapid sequence intubation improves functional outcome for patients with severe traumatic brain injury: a randomized controlled trial.
Bernard SA, Nguyen V, Cameron P, Masci K, Fitzgerald M, Cooper DJ, Walker T, Std BP, Myles P, Murray L, David, Taylor, Smith K, Patrick I, Edington J, Bacon A, Rosenfeld JV, Judson R.
Ann Surg. 2010 Dec;252(6):959-65. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e3181efc15f.
PMID: 21107105


Here is some of the evidence showing either a lack of benefit from intubation or evidence showing harm from intubation:


Misplaced endotracheal tubes by paramedics in an urban emergency medical services system.
Katz SH, Falk JL.
Ann Emerg Med. 2001 Jan;37(1):32-7.
PMID: 11145768

Free Full Text PDF


Rapid sequence intubation for pediatric emergency patients: higher frequency of failed attempts and adverse effects found by video review.
Kerrey BT, Rinderknecht AS, Geis GL, Nigrovic LE, Mittiga MR.
Ann Emerg Med. 2012 Sep;60(3):251-9. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2012.02.013. Epub 2012 Mar 15.
PMID: 22424653

Free Full Text from Annals of Emergency Medicine.


A is for airway: a pediatric emergency department challenge.
Green SM.
Ann Emerg Med. 2012 Sep;60(3):261-3. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2012.03.019. Epub 2012 Apr 19. No abstract available.
PMID: 22520991

The article above is a comment on the previous article.


Prehospital intubations and mortality: a level 1 trauma center perspective.
Cobas MA, De la Peña MA, Manning R, Candiotti K, Varon AJ.
Anesth Analg. 2009 Aug;109(2):489-93. doi: 10.1213/ane.0b013e3181aa3063.
PMID: 19608824


Intubation by Emergency Physicians: How Often Is Enough?
Kerrey BT, Wang H.
Ann Emerg Med. 2019 Dec;74(6):795-796. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2019.06.022. Epub 2019 Aug 19. No abstract available.
PMID: 31439364

The article above is commentary on the article below:

Procedural Experience With Intubation: Results From a National Emergency Medicine Group.
Carlson JN, Zocchi M, Marsh K, McCoy C, Pines JM, Christensen A, Kornas R, Venkat A.
Ann Emerg Med. 2019 Dec;74(6):786-794. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2019.04.025. Epub 2019 Jun 24.
PMID: 31248674


Effect of a Strategy of a Supraglottic Airway Device vs Tracheal Intubation During Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest on Functional Outcome: The AIRWAYS-2 Randomized Clinical Trial.
Benger JR, Kirby K, Black S, Brett SJ, Clout M, Lazaroo MJ, Nolan JP, Reeves BC, Robinson M, Scott LJ, Smartt H, South A, Stokes EA, Taylor J, Thomas M, Voss S, Wordsworth S, Rogers CA.
JAMA. 2018 Aug 28;320(8):779-791. doi: 10.1001/jama.2018.11597.
PMID: 30167701

Free Full Text from PubMed Central® (PMC)


Effect of a Strategy of Initial Laryngeal Tube Insertion vs Endotracheal Intubation on 72-Hour Survival in Adults With Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest: A Randomized Clinical Trial.
Wang HE, Schmicker RH, Daya MR, Stephens SW, Idris AH, Carlson JN, Colella MR, Herren H, Hansen M, Richmond NJ, Puyana JCJ, Aufderheide TP, Gray RE, Gray PC, Verkest M, Owens PC, Brienza AM, Sternig KJ, May SJ, Sopko GR, Weisfeldt ML, Nichol G.
JAMA. 2018 Aug 28;320(8):769-778. doi: 10.1001/jama.2018.7044.
PMID: 30167699

Free Full Text from PubMed Central® (PMC)


Pragmatic Airway Management in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest.
Andersen LW, Granfeldt A.
JAMA. 2018 Aug 28;320(8):761-763. doi: 10.1001/jama.2018.10824. No abstract available.
PMID: 30167679


Interruptions in cardiopulmonary resuscitation from paramedic endotracheal intubation.
Wang HE, Simeone SJ, Weaver MD, Callaway CW.
Ann Emerg Med. 2009 Nov;54(5):645-652.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2009.05.024. Epub 2009 Jul 2.
PMID: 19573949


Association of prehospital advanced airway management with neurologic outcome and survival in patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
Hasegawa K, Hiraide A, Chang Y, Brown DF.
JAMA. 2013 Jan 16;309(3):257-66. doi: 10.1001/jama.2012.187612.
PMID: 23321764

Free Full Text from JAMA


No evidence for decreased incidence of aspiration after rapid sequence induction.
Neilipovitz DT, Crosby ET.
Can J Anaesth. 2007 Sep;54(9):748-64. Review.
PMID: 17766743

Link to Abstract and Free Full Text PDF Download from Can J Anaesth


The Great Prehospital Airway Debate
August 31, 2018
Emergency Medicine Literature of Note
by Ryan Radecki
Article


EM Nerd-The Case of the Needless Imperative
August 31, 2018
EMNerd (EMCrit)
by Rory Spiegel
Article


Intubation or supraglottic airway in cardiac arrest; AIRWAYS-2
The Resus Room
Podcast with Simon Laing, Rob Fenwick, and James Yates with guest Professor Jonathan Benger, lead author of AIRWAYS-2.
Podcast, images, and notes


Variation in Survival After Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Between Emergency Medical Services Agencies.
Okubo M, Schmicker RH, Wallace DJ, Idris AH, Nichol G, Austin MA, Grunau B, Wittwer LK, Richmond N, Morrison LJ, Kurz MC, Cheskes S, Kudenchuk PJ, Zive DM, Aufderheide TP, Wang HE, Herren H, Vaillancourt C, Davis DP, Vilke GM, Scheuermeyer FX, Weisfeldt ML, Elmer J, Colella R, Callaway CW; Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium Investigators.
JAMA Cardiol. 2018 Sep 26. doi: 10.1001/jamacardio.2018.3037. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 30267053

Free Full Text from JAMA Cardiology


Cardiocerebral resuscitation improves survival of patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
Kellum MJ, Kennedy KW, Ewy GA.
Am J Med. 2006 Apr;119(4):335-40.
PMID: 16564776


Cardiocerebral resuscitation improves neurologically intact survival of patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
Kellum MJ, Kennedy KW, Barney R, Keilhauer FA, Bellino M, Zuercher M, Ewy GA.
Ann Emerg Med. 2008 Sep;52(3):244-52. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2008.02.006. Epub 2008 Mar 28.
PMID: 18374452


Minimally interrupted cardiac resuscitation by emergency medical services for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
Bobrow BJ, Clark LL, Ewy GA, Chikani V, Sanders AB, Berg RA, Richman PB, Kern KB.
JAMA. 2008 Mar 12;299(10):1158-65. doi: 10.1001/jama.299.10.1158.
PMID: 18334691

Free Full Text at JAMA


Passive oxygen insufflation is superior to bag-valve-mask ventilation for witnessed ventricular fibrillation out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
Bobrow BJ, Ewy GA, Clark L, Chikani V, Berg RA, Sanders AB, Vadeboncoeur TF, Hilwig RW, Kern KB.
Ann Emerg Med. 2009 Nov;54(5):656-662.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2009.06.011. Epub 2009 Aug 6.
PMID: 19660833


Cardiocerebral resuscitation is associated with improved survival and neurologic outcome from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in elders.
Mosier J, Itty A, Sanders A, Mohler J, Wendel C, Poulsen J, Shellenberger J, Clark L, Bobrow B.
Acad Emerg Med. 2010 Mar;17(3):269-75. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.2010.00689.x.
PMID: 20370759

Free Full Text from Acad Emerg Med.

And more.


That is a big difference. There is nowhere near enough evidence to justify allowing paramedics to intubate.


Footnotes:

[1] Grim New Rules for NYC Paramedics: Don’t Bring Cardiac Arrests to ER for Revival
By Tom Winter
Published April 2, 2020 • Updated on April 2, 2020 at 8:32 pm
nbcnewyork.com
Article with autoplay video

[2] TEMPORARY Cardiac Arrest Standards for Disaster Response
NYC REMAC
Advisory No. 2020-08
Issue Date: March 31, 2020
Effective Date: Immediate
Protocol in PDF format

[3] Use of Alternative Airways
NYC REMAC
Advisory No. 2020-05
Issue Date: March 20, 2020
Effective Date: Immediate
Protocol in PDF format

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