Carilion Clinic partners with local first responders for ultrasound research

Published: Mar. 9, 2022 at 7:40 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Carilion Clinic is partnering with first responders to see if ultrasound technology can help better diagnosis respiratory distress.

The goal is to give patients better care and treatment before they even get to a hospital.

Every second counts in an emergency.

That’s why local fire and EMS departments in Botetourt County, Roanoke City and Salem are partnering with Carilion Clinic to research if ultrasound technology can help better answer why someone is having difficulty breathing.

“What we’re doing with this study is looking at lung tissue in people who are complaining of shortness of breath and what the ultrasound can do, is it will be able to look into the chest, not similar to an x-ray, but similar to like looking into a baby and we can see lung tissue moving, we can see fluid, we can see pneumonia, we can see if there has been a collapse in the lung,” said Carol Bernier, Carilion Emergency Medicine physician and primary investigator for the study.

“It’s not invasive. It’s not doing anything that could provide a negative connotation or outcome to the patient. It’s not like starting an IV. But what it is, is it’s giving us a picture we’ve never had before, which just increases our level of assessment to be more specific and accurate in the medications that we provide or the treatments that we do give,” said Jason Ferguson, Botetourt County Fire and EMS Chief.

That gives paramedics another tool when called at a moment’s notice.

“It helps us see something we’ve never seen before and that’s what’s on the inside and certainly listening to the chest with a stethoscope is much different than looking beneath the surface and seeing what’s actually happening underneath,” said Ferguson.

The ultrasound technology could help get you the right treatment before even getting to the hospital.

“We start the care and really being sometimes 20 to 40 minutes out from the hospital, we have a huge impact on the success of the outcome of the patient if we know what’s going on and how we can help,” said Ferguson.

More research is needed to complete the study, but those involved with the study say they are happy to participate, to potentially give better service right here in the Roanoke Valley.

“It really helps put emergency medical services in Southwest Virginia on the map because we’re evaluating our practices, so that we have evidence based medicine,” said Ferguson.

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