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Boning up on saving lives

Paramedic Ryan Sommer, left, and Lt. Edward Wright worked with the community and the Poulsbo Firefighter Association to raise funds for a new device that will help make field IV’s quicker for pediatric or trauma patients. - Brad Camp/Staff photo
Paramedic Ryan Sommer, left, and Lt. Edward Wright worked with the community and the Poulsbo Firefighter Association to raise funds for a new device that will help make field IV’s quicker for pediatric or trauma patients.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff photo

POULSBO — You could say it a little something like this: Drill, paramedic, drill.

A new piece of equipment at the Poulsbo Fire Department is putting paramedics on an even faster track when saving lives in the field, but this machine has less to do with oil and more to do with medicine.

The intraosseous drill, better known as an IO drill, is a new technology that allows medication to be infused straight into the bloodstream through a small bone-drilling tool. And while it sounds cringe-worthy and painful, most patients report it hurts less than a traditional intravenous (IV) administration.

Paramedic/firefighter Ryan Sommer was the first to request the department procure the device; the department now has two and is hoping to get a third, so each of its emergency medical response vehicles is equipped.

According to a department press release, the IO drill allows for quicker medicinal administration, especially for patients with added issues including diabetes, which makes a traditional IV difficult because of poor circulation. It is particularly effective in serious trauma cases, the release states.

Sommer said the drill isn’t limited on the types of medications it can distribute, and is usually given in a person’s tibial region (near the knee).

Though the technology is new to fire departments, it’s been used since the 1920s in hospitals and by the military, Sommers said. The drill allows a 94 percent success rate, and alleviates troubles that spring up when medics can’t administer IV medicines in a patient’s arms or legs.

Sommers said the drill looks similar to a household tool, but sports a magnetic head and magnetic needles.

“The old way, you would just pry, go down until you thought you were in,” Sommers said. Now, using an IO drill is “faster and more accurate.”

The Poulsbo Firefighters Association donated $2,500 to the department to obtain the devices.

“When folks make memorial donations, these are put into the Firefighter Association’s account which is overseen by volunteer firefighters,” said association President Lt. Ed Wright. “It’s important the community knows their donations are being used to help save lives.”

The Firefighter Association also hosts several fundraising activities. One such activity will take place today, Dec. 6, from 2:30-4:30 p.m. at Station 71 near State Route 305 and Central Market. Children are invited to get their picture taken with Santa and Poulsbo’s historic fire truck.

For more information, call (360) 779-3997.

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