Hypothermia Guideline

In 2009, following the recommendations of the American Heart Association and after recognizing the success of other programs being used nationwide, EMTs and Paramedics with Jackson County initiated a hypothermia guideline that would be used to potentially benefit certain patients suffering from cardiac arrest.

What Happens During Hypothermia

Due to metabolic changes that occur in the body during cardiac arrest, it has been recognized that following a patient being resuscitated, there are numerous changes that occur within the body and one of those changes is an increased temperature in the body and more importantly in the brain. This increased temperature in the brain has been linked to cause irreversible brain damage due to ischemia or a lack of oxygen to tissues. In studies of out of hospital cardiac arrest, improved neurological outcomes have been recognized when pre-hospital personnel lower the body temperature and the temperature in the brain.

Cooled IV Fluid

Currently, 5 of the 6 ambulances in Jackson County are equipped with on-board refrigerators where IV fluids are typically stored at temperatures between 36 and 42 degrees Fahrenheit. These cooled fluids are administered to certain cardiac arrest patients en route to the hospital in an effort to lower their core body temperature. Most often, the fluids are administered prior to the patient being resuscitated so that in the event that a resuscitation does occur, lowering the patients core temperature has already begun. Jackson County EMS currently has an agreement with Athens Regional Medical Center and Northeast Georgia Medical Center to continue this hypothermia guideline once it is initiated by field crews. Once the patient arrives at the emergency room, the receiving staff will continue keeping the patient in a hypothermia state for 24 hours while the body returns to a normal metabolic state. While patients are administered the cooled IV fluids, ice packs are also placed in specific locations on the body externally to increase the efforts of lowering the patients core temperature.