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A life-saving addition

New defibrillators for Fire Department are more advanced, less expensive.

July 10, 2010|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com
(Raul Roa )

SOUTH GLENDALE — Glendale firefighters got a lesson Friday morning on using new cost-saving defibrillators that will give hospitals more information on heart-attack patients and monitor carbon monoxide levels.

The new defibrillators will allow firefighters to provide better service to patients and provide care in Los Angeles and Pasadena, Glendale Fire Capt. Cody Smith said. The two cities already have the monitors.

"When we respond to those two cities, it is easier for us to move in if we have similar equipment, and it's seamless when we have to give patient care," he said.

Fire departments in the mutual aid area have been also looking at transitioning their old monitoring equipment to the new Lifepak defibrillator for better communication in the region, Smith said.

On Friday, firefighters at Station 22 were trained on using the device, which will debut Tuesday in the field.

The carbon-monoxide-monitoring feature can be useful to check the level of exposure to carbon monoxide for firefighters who have been battling a blaze, Smith said.

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"We want to be able to take care of our personnel as well as take care of patients in the field," Smith said.

The monitors are simpler to use, potentially making patient care faster.

"We are getting better patient care, faster patient care, and that information is transferred to the hospitals quicker," Smith said.

The machines also more accurately identify heart attacks and provide better information to critical care doctors and nurses, said Cyndi Bowers, a representative with Physio Control, which makes the defibrillators.

The information can be sent to hospitals that specialize in treating heart-attack patients before they arrive, officials said.

The old defibrillators had a capnography cord that cost roughly $3,000 to replace when damaged. Capnography monitors carbon dioxide levels in the lungs.

But with the new defibrillators, Smith said the same cord will cost $7.

Repairing the life-saving machines will no longer be a hassle for the Fire Department, since most work can be completed through Physio Control.

That will also result in a cost savings for the Fire Department because firefighters won't have to pay another company to repair the machines, Smith said.

The new $24,000 defibrillator is far less expensive than the older models, which cost $45,000 each, Smith said.

Firefighters have been working with 10-year-old devices, which usually last about five years, he said.

"We tried extending it as long as we can, and every single time if something goes wrong with it, it's a minimum of $1,200 to keep it going," Smith said. "Right now, for the next six years, these will cost us nothing."

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