Photo courtesy Merrill Fire Department.

The Merrill Fire Department has added another life-saving measure to its arsenal of rescue skills, effective today.

Rapid sequential intubation, or RSI, is an advanced procedure that entails administration of a potent sedative and paralytic medication. Through the use of those medications, paramedics are able to insert a breathing tube into the patient, allowing them to ventilate the patient. This procedure is necessary in critically injured or ill patients who need assistance breathing. By breathing for the patient, Merrill paramedics predict a better outcome for patients.

Adding this life-saving procedure for Merrill Fire Department firefighter/paramedics would not be possible without the leadership of Dr. Michael Clark, MFD said in a news release. All EMS providers must work under the medical direction and supervision of a licensed physician. 

Clark is the medical director for MFD and other ambulance services in northcentral Wisconsin. He is also heavily involved with EMS issues across the state, including serving on the Wisconsin EMS Advisory Board and Physician Advisory Committee. 

The fire department also has purchased video laryngoscopes. These devices allow paramedics to better visualize the vocal cords when placing the breathing tube into the patient. 

“We are excited to finally add RSI to our EMS protocols,” said Battalion Chief Scott Krause in the release. Krause also serves as the EMS Division Chief and was one of the original paramedics on the department. “We’ve known for years that we had patients who would have benefited from this procedure and now we are finally making it happen.”