Cooler donation could help save lives

2012-10-05T17:45:00Z 2012-10-05T18:18:45Z Cooler donation could help save livesBy Joyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | A donation from a local industry and a change in emergency medical protocol may give residents who've suffered a heart attack a better chance at survival.

NMLK recently donated three special coolers to the Portage Fire Department. The coolers are more like small refrigeration units that, once plugged in to the ambulance, can keep intravenous fluids stored inside it at a constant 34 to 36 degrees.

That's important to patients who have suffered a cardiac arrest, said Assistant Fire Chief Dan Kodicek. A new protocol calls for those over age 16 who have had a heart attack to be placed in therapeutic hypothermia. The American Heart Association-endorsed measure begins with the paramedics.

Giving post cardiac arrest patients cold intravenous fluids keeps the patient's core temperature down and stops the production of toxins within the body, Fire Chief Tom Fieffer said, giving patients a greater chance of survival. While it starts with the local EMS crew, he said, the protocol continues once the patient gets to the hospital.

The units cost $900 each. One has been placed on each of the city's three ambulances.

"Safety is very important to us," said Joe Gazarkiewicz, director of human resources, labor and safety at NMLK. "The Portage Fire Department has partnered with us to help keep our employees safe."

Second, Gazarkiewicz  said about his company's donation, is the importance of supporting the community.

"We want to help the fire department to help those in need," he said.

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